Thursday- July 4
I was sad to be out of America for the first time on a Fourth of July, but it turned out to be a really great day! We took the tube to King’s Cross and got to take our pictures with Platform 9 ¾. They also had a Harry Potter store that was new since the last time I was there. I bought a pair of HP glasses. Our morning tour was at the British Library, which is the National Library of the UK. Again, we had a very lovely guide here! Like the Bodlien, they get a free copy of everything that is published in the UK and Ireland. Unlike the Bodlien, they do not get to choose if they want it. They actually have to take everything. For this reason, they are more selective about the other items in their collection. Right now they have over 200 million items, and the oldest items are 3000 years old. The copyright law was just extending to include websites, so they are starting to acquire that material as well. The library has been around 40 years, but it is only have the size of what was planned because of budget problems. There is actually more library space underground than above ground because the building was designed to not obscure the views of the buildings around them. There is space equal to 8 floors underground to store books. Books are actually stored by size here, in order to maximize space. Most people use the British Library for academic purposes. Anyone over 18 can get a reader card, but they have to know what they want from the collection, and have a reason to see the material. Readers can request items online because much of the collection is stored or kept offsite. We were able to see the mechanical book handling system, which brings books from the storage to the correct area for a reader to use. The system handles 5,000-6,000 books a day. Most of the money for the British Library comes from the government. They supplement with money from tours, donations, and shops. A really amazing part of the library is the private library of George III, which is on permanent, public display in the middle of the library. There was also a really great exhibit of original manuscripts when we visited.
After our tour, a couple of girls and I went shopping in Camden. It is a huge market area, and you can find some really cool stuff. I am sure I will be going back at some point on this trip. We took the tube home to Waterloo and decided to cross the street under the IMAX, where we just happened to run into a movie premiere!! It was so exciting and we got a lot of pictures and autographs! I was just on cloud nine. Afterwards, we went to Gourmet Burger Kitchen for a Fourth of July dinner and it was delicious.