Saturday, 26 July 2014

The British Library

So I acquired three different cards during my stay in the United Kingdom.  The tube pass, while useful, falls at the bottom of the rankings in terms of how excited I was to receive these passes and my perception of their intrinsic awesomeness.  The other two are neck and neck for number one, with the one I acquired today just barely edging out the Liberty of London loyalty card.  And what could surpass that greatness?  My very own British Library reader's pass.  I'm sure you can see why it is a close competition.

     Visiting the British Library to view the exhibits and space is a trip in and of itself.  The Treasures Room and the towering presence of King George's Library are incredible.  However, visiting the Library to research?  Well that is a whole other level of awesome.
     There are several things that one should keep in mind when embarking on acquiring a Reader's Pass.  First, pre-register.  Not only will this save time, but it allows you to pre-order books, which is an invaluable time saver.  Also, make sure you have the proper identification necessary.  You need two forms, I used my passport and driver's license.  Finally, arrive early.  Not only will this help you beat any crowds, but it will give you more time to research.
      I knew going to the British Library for research would be an experience.  There were a few times during my stay in London and UK were I was actually wide eyed and star struck by my surroundings, and this was definitely one of them.  The reading rooms are massive, and quiet.  It is truly astounding and refreshing to be in such a large space and hear so little noise.  The perfect space for research.  I had, at the suggestion of fellow classmates and the British Library website pre-registered and pre-ordered my materials, so the process of acquiring my pass and getting my materials was relatively short. 
      And here is perhaps the most important thing to remember before entering the reading rooms to begin research, and a hard lesson I had to learn.  Make sure your pencil had lead in it.  Yes, that's right, wide-eyed and ready to dive into research I find out that I am on the very last bit of lead in the pencil.  I made the most of it.  You find ways to improvise when you really need it.  Despite my failing writing utensil I was able to get some valuable research completed on the William Morris Gallery and Archive.  The British Library had a few volumes of interest regarding the early compilation of the collection and on its formation. 

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