Posted by: bluesyemre | May 15, 2018

Behind the scenes London: The #BritishLibrary Treasures and Manuscripts collection


What’s home to more than 60 million patents, 14 million books, 8 million stamps, 6 million sound recordings, 4,447,505 maps and 351,116 manuscripts? Well, The British Library of course.

If you didn’t already know, The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and is home to the second largest collection of books, periodicals, journals and sound recordings in the world (it’s beaten by The Library of Congress in the USA). To put things into perspective, if you attempted to look at five items in the library every day it would take you precisely 80,000 years to see its entire treasury of books. Pretty impressive, huh?

Before it moved to its current location on Euston Road, the bibliocopia was housed inside the rotunda of the British Museum (the giant white monolith you see on every tourist’s Instagram) but things got a little cramped come 1973 so the library’s trustee’s decided it was time to build something capable of withholding its 170 million-strong collection.

Speaking of the collection, the coolest stuff is kept in special containers and rooms out back, in the King’s Library (the George III collection) and six floors beneath the library itself in what we dubbed the ‘scary literary dungeons’. The most precious items are housed here and are sealed shut in special chambers filled with nitrogen, carbon dioxide and argon – it’s a lovely little mix that protects all the scripts from pesky fires and sprinkler systems, which as you can probably imagine, medieval manuscripts aren’t at all partial to.

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