During my research in London, I paid a visit to the British Library.
Here I found more than just shelves of books. They have various exhibitions, one of which included Treasures of the British Library in the Sir John Ritblat Gallery. Inside were various books, notebooks and manuscipts of famous works including the Magna Carta, Shakespeare’s works, Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebook and the Codex Sinaiticus, to name a few. The gallery was a lot colder than the other areas of the library, presumably to protect and preserve the books. Similarly, pictures were not allowed to be taken inside the gallery. The art of book preservation is another area in which I need to explore for my research.
The Kings Library, a tower at the centre of the library, is home to the George III collection- numerous ancient books collected by King George III to represent the knowledge of the world. This area is off limits to the general public and readers of the library, but the glass encasing of the tower allows you to see all the books.
Once I had got a readers’ card, I was able to access the reading rooms where books were available for viewing. With little time, I browsed the open shelved books, rather than ordering specific books. I found the architecture section and was intrigued by the covers of some of the books.
I found many of the books to have been re-covered- which in some ways wasn’t surprising if you take into account how much they have been handled over the years, but when they were sat side by side with the same book (that hadn’t been re-covered) I felt as though they had lost some of their charm and historical stories. In one way re-covering allows them to be enjoyed by future generations, but in other ways, the books seem less enticing as the book no longer shouts about the discoveries and stories within it…