Getting Lost at the British Library

Well, not so much “getting lost” as “buying tickets for the wrong day because in a hurry”. And rushing there (and spending £5 on a taxi) and really just feeling kind of stupid, but it was okay. Partially because they let you do self-guided tours and because that was the only real “bad” thing to happen on my trip. Not to mention I now have a story to tell that I think is hilarious.

I have to admit that I’ve never actually visited The Library of Congress here, but it’s totally on my bucket list but I think that’s the closest we here in America have as far as a national library. It was really interesting to see and compare two different National Libraries (The National Library of Scotland and the British Library). Both are non-lending libraries so you’d think that they’d have similar issues with patronage, but when I was at the British Library it was PACKED. The café and common rooms were full, people were using laptops, looking at materials in the reading room. Granted I was at the British Library on a Thursday in the late afternoon as opposed to early on a Monday morning so I think that likely had a lot to do with the difference. Plus it’s literally right down the street from the King’s Cross Station so I think the proximity to everything helped.

The British Library has a strict no-photos allowed rule so I wasn’t able to take photographs but the collection is breathtaking. Unfortunately I wasn’t as lucky as I was with the National Library of Scotland because I showed myself around but I did read their 2013 – 2014 Annual Report which lists their major goals for 2014 – 2015 and the one I found most interesting is Number 3: Support research communities in key areas for social and economic benefit.

They focused on inspiring and enabling entrepreneurs by focusing on an Entrepreneurship week and holding an Inspiring Entrepreneurs series of events. I think this is extremely important and a great way for libraries that don’t offer lending services to still be involved in the community as a whole.


British Library. (2015). British Library Annual Report and Accounts 2013/14. London: British Library.

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