Portal:British Library

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The British Library Portal

The British Library's courtyard.

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest national library in the world by number of items catalogued. It is estimated to contain 150–200 million+ items from many countries. As a legal deposit library, the British Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including a significant proportion of overseas titles distributed in the UK. The Library is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The British Library is a major research library, with items in many languages and in many formats, both print and digital: books, manuscripts, journals, newspapers, magazines, sound and music recordings, videos, play-scripts, patents, databases, maps, stamps, prints, drawings. The Library's collections include around 14 million books, along with substantial holdings of manuscripts and historical items dating back as far as 2000 BC. In addition to receiving a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland (approximately 8,000 per day), the Library has a programme for content acquisitions. The Library adds some three million items every year occupying 9.6 kilometres (6.0 mi) of new shelf space. There is space in the library for over 1,200 readers.

Prior to 1973, the Library was part of the British Museum. The British Library Act 1972 detached the library department from the museum, but it continued to host the now separated British Library in the same Reading Room and building as the museum until 1997. The Library is now located in a purpose-built building on the north side of Euston Road in St Pancras, London (between Euston railway station and St Pancras railway station), and has a document storage centre and reading room near Boston Spa, near Wetherby in West Yorkshire. The Euston Road building is classified as a Grade I listed building "of exceptional interest" for its architecture and history. Read more...

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The Gutenberg Bible (also known as the 42-line Bible, the Mazarin Bible or the B42) was the first major book printed with a movable type printing press, marking the start of the "Gutenberg Revolution" and the age of the printed book. Widely praised for its high aesthetic and artistic qualities, the book has iconic status in the West. It is an edition of the Vulgate, printed by Johannes Gutenberg, in Mainz, Germany in the 1450s. Only twenty-one complete copies survive, and they are considered by many sources to be the most valuable books in the world, even though a completed copy has not been sold since 1978.

The 36-line Bible is also sometimes referred to as a Gutenberg Bible, but is possibly the work of another printer.

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Codex arundel.jpg
A page from the Codex Arundel, by Leonardo da Vinci. It forms part of the Arundel Manuscripts in the British Library collection.

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First floor

The King's LibraryBusiness and IP CentreThe first floor of the British LibraryThe first floor of the British Library.
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The great British Library — an immense collection of volumes of all ages and languages, many of which are now forgotten, and most of which are seldom read: one of these sequestered pools of obsolete literature to which modern authors repair, and draw buckets full of classic lore, or “pure English, undefiled” wherewith to swell their own scanty rills of thought.
— Washington Irving (1783 –1859)
The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.


British Library WikiProject

  • The British Library WikiProject is a project that helps to assemble writers and editors interested in improving topics related to the British Library.
  • The aim of this project is to standardize and improve articles related to the British Library, as well as to create any missing articles.
  • To become a member of this WikiProject (anyone may join), simply click here and add your name.
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