Tuesday, July 13, 2010

In praise of the British Library

A guest post by Gail Renard

At a time when all we hear about is cutbacks, it’s timely to remind everyone of one of our most glorious assets and it’s free: the British Library. Everything you’ve ever wanted from books, newspapers, journals, sound archives and more is available to you at various locations throughout the country and on-line.

Everyone is welcome to visit the British Library and its exhibition galleries, or to tour the building. But to use the Reading Rooms you need to register for a Reader Pass. Pre- registration is easily done on-line; as is pre-ordering your material for your first visit. You can then present yourself at the Reading Room for registration proper and a brief interview before, hopefully, being granted membership.
It seems a normal reader’s temporary pass is for three months; a student perhaps up to a year; all at the discretion of the interviewer. But when I showed her my WGGB membership card, her demeanour changed and she beamed, 'Ah! A professional writer! In that case, we will happily give you a three year pass.'

It couldn’t have been quicker. It’s not often writers are lavished with respect and special treatment, but no one could ask for more at the BL. It’s one of the many advantages you get for being a Guild member. Savour it.

1 comment:

  1. Ming Ho10:41 am

    I love the BL, which is beautifully designed inside, as well as functional (and with a lovely terrace outside the upstairs cafe!).

    Humanities II Reading Room is my favourite, where archive Radio Times and other media journals are available on open access shelves. Check out the sound recordings available on computer terminals (need to order some online in advance, so read up on the website first).

    And for anyone in spitting distance of Colindale, catch the wonderful Newspaper Archive (national and local press from 19th century to present) before it transfers up to Yorkshire within the next year - a great resource for social history. (Some national newspaper archives are also available online in the the St. Pancras and Colindale Reading Rooms.)


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.