All three libraries are wonderful spaces to work in, staffed with very helpful and knowledgable people and I feel privileged and grateful to be able to spend time there.
Last week I went to the British Library to have a closer look at the King's Library. This is George III's collection of around 60,000 books, which was given to the nation by his son George IV in 1823. They were housed in the British Museum in a long gallery and from 1857 in the round Reading Room of the British Museum. Now, of course, the library forms the glass heart of the new British Library building at King's Cross.
|King George III's personal copy of Newton's Opticks, 1704, with that famous prismatic colour wheel (Fig.11).|
Excerpt from Louis MacNeice, “The British Museum Reading Room”
Under the hive-like dome the stooping haunted readers
Go up and down the alleys, tap the cells of knowledge --
Honey and wax, the accumulation of years --
Some on commission, some for the love of learning,
Some because they have nothing better to do
Or because they hope these walls of books will deaden
The drumming of the demon in their ears.
Cranks, hacks, poverty-stricken scholars,
In pince-nez, period hats or romantic beards
And cherishing their hobby or their doom
Some are too much alive and some are asleep
Hanging like bats in a world of inverted values,
Folded up in themselves in a world which is safe and silent.
These links neatly to four lines from a Wordsworth's poem the same teacher wrote in a card for me on finishing my A-Levels (Abitur) more than 25 years ago:
Enough of Science and of Art;Close up those barren leaves;
Come forth, and bring with you a heart
That watches and receives.
Very appropriate in the throes of finishing a doctoral thesis.