Last week was my very first visit to the British Library — and I have to say I was suitably impressed. The first thing that struck me about the building was that it’s not terribly pretty from the outside. It lounges there on Euston Road* like a large, sluggish reddish beast.
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But once you pass through the doors and past the bag-search tables — oh my! The entrance hall is simply breathtaking: it’s a huge space, flooded with light that’s reflected from the white walls. The modern design blends beautifully with the old, old books of the King’s Library which are displayed behind tinted glass in a tower of dark bookshelves. Not surprisingly, the reading rooms are huge, and here again the design combines modernity with the dignity of an old library.
What impressed me most, perhaps, is how friendly and helpful the staff were. They were happy to help and explain and made me feel very welcome indeed. And best of all — the books I had preordered were already waiting for me when I arrived on Monday! 🙂
* For some reason Google Maps thinks the British Museum is the British Library … *scratching my head*
I found the picture of the reading room on the Guardian Blog. (I totally didn’t have any problems finding a seat — but then, I usually arrived at the library as soon as they opened the doors. Still, there were plenty of free seats left in the afternoon, though things were somewhat busier on Wednesday afternoon.)