Thursday, July 28, 2011

National Treasures

Like the Library of Congress (where I interned waaaay back in 1990), the British Library is both a research library and the official national depository. Everything printed (or published to the internet) in Britain is archived here. The library receives as many as 8,000 new items every day--every newpaper, book, comic, stamp, postcard, and dirty magazine.

We had a tour of the Treasures room, which exhibited such famous works as a Gutenberg Bible, the Magna Carta, and some of the earliest published Shakespeare. No photos were allowed in the Library, but they have a great website where many of the treasures can be viewed online. (More here: Austen, Blake, Lewis Carrol's original Alice manuscript, Handel's Messiah, and about 30,000 other things.)

We also registered for reader cards and many of us requested materials in the reading rooms. The British Library is not a lending library; everything has to be used on site and with fairly strict rules. For example, no pens, highlighters or cameras could be taken in the reading rooms. My next big project will be about Beatrix Potter, so I reserved a biography and a guide to an exhibit of her work. My British Library card is good for a year, but it seems unlikely that I'll ever use it again.


I stopped by King's Cross Station this morning.
Do you know where I was going?

That's right. I tried to catch the Hogwarts Express.

"Behind the magic."

 Like much of London, King's Cross is undergoing major renovations. The Olympics opens exactly one year from yesterday and everyone here is hyper-aware of the "eyes of the world" being focused on their city. At one point, not long ago, the Platform 9 3/4 photo opportunity was actually in a quiet corner of the station. Now it is in a tiny alcove off the street. It was still busy.

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