Thursday, July 28, 2011


Today our group visited Platform 9 3/4 quarters and the British Library!

King's Cross Station is currently undergoing a renovation, so Platform 9 3/4 has (temporarily?) been moved up and out of the station. This assists with construction and the daily commute of many not having to deal with Harry Potter fans flocking to the placard. Hopefully, once King's Cross has been renovated, the platform will be returned to its rightful place.

The British Library, like many other sites of London, has more to offer than one can see in a time-limited capacity. Today our focus was on the Treasures Gallery and the Reading Rooms.  The Treasures Gallery gets its name because it holds many unique books and documents. I had a look at Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, A Gutenberg Bible, Shakespeare quartos, and a copy of the Magna Carta.

Although the library has these priceless pieces as part of its collection, it also has many modern titles in a broad range of categories. For example, when Cassie and I visited the Reading Rooms, one of her selections was The Art of Finding Nemo, and I pulled a book titled Cats in Books. My selection was actually a lot more interesting than I what I thought it would be; it covered the history of cats and where they are found in familiar titles through the ages.

The most interesting aspect of this library is that everything is library-use-only. You request your materials and read them in one of the many reading rooms available. You also have the option of asking them to hold the materials again for your next visit. The procedures for the Reading Rooms was a lot like using The Smather's Library at UF. You can only have the materials you need, like a notebook, laptop, and only a pencil. The difference at the British Library: you show your ID to enter, keep all your materials in a clear plastic bag (which is checked when you exit), and give your seat number to the desk so they know where to find you if the materials don't make it back.

I recognize that the British Library's purpose as a place of research rather than a place for recreation. As much as I enjoyed using my new British Library Card to access the reading rooms and taking a look at some materials from their collection, open libraries are definitely more my speed. I like the idea of individuals entering and browsing to find what happens to suit them at that particular moment in time.

I'll be incommunicado for a few days while I explore PARIS! See you on Monday.

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