Friday, March 9, 2012

The British Library

Robin and I spent Friday in London. She had research to do at the British Library so, as usual, I tagged along to take photos. 

Also, Mark Rylance invited Robin, an honorary associate of the Shakespeare Authorship Trust, to a SAT board meeting, held at the Duke of York's Theatre. Being in the neighborhood, we also put the new David Hockney exhibit at the Royal Academy of Art on the day's agenda (more about all that in the next post).

The British Library's book stacks serve as an architectural focal point. If you want a book from the stacks, you put in a request, then a BL librarian (never a mere mortal) goes into the stacks to retrieve the book. Expect a 70-minute wait when you request something. The stacks are so crowded and close to the glass, you won't see any overweight librarians in there.

A model of the library shows how the book stacks continue underground.

A restaurant and coffee shop surround the book stacks. And, of course, there are lots of other exhibit rooms and reading rooms. Including a conference center, locker rooms to store your stuff while you're there, permanent collections of fabulous manuscripts. 

And not just old manuscripts. I enjoyed the collection of Beatles hand-written lyrics to some of their hit songs. During the filming of a Beatles movie, Ringo made a comment about everyone being tired and mentioned it was a hard day's night. The director told John Lennon that he was going to use that for the title of the movie. Lennon went home that night and wrote the lyrics for A Hard Day's Night on the back of a birthday card that his son had just gotten for his 1st Birthday. The birthday card was in the exhibit. I wanted to take a photo, but there are security cameras everywhere and I didn't want to risk getting kicked out.

Also, in the same room, is an original hand-written version of Arcadia, by Philip Sidney, Mary Sidney's brother. It's behind glass, open to a certain page spread. The quill writing and the layout of the pages is incredibly beautiful, and the writing is incredibly small. Amazing stuff. 

A nice book-chair. The ball and chain is a nice touch, I think. 

The courtyard. The part of the building on the right is the conference center. The area to the left is the main library area. The statue is Newton, based on a drawing or painting by William Blake.

Newton, after William Blake.

The entrance to the courtyard from the sidewalk.

The current exhibit.

Great art.

The newly renovated St. Pancras Hotel, on the other side of the BL conference center (foreground).