A History of the British Museum Library, 1753-1973

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British Library, 1998 - History - 833 pages
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This is the first comprehensive history of an institution that for generations enjoyed world renown as a repository of knowledge and a cornerstone of scholarship. Arundell Esdailes's short (though valuable) history of the British Museum library, published in 1946, contains little about events after the end of the 1914-18 War. So with the creation of the British Library in 1973, which absorbed the British Museum library, and the move to a new building at St Pancras, it seemed appropriate in the 1980s to consider producing a large-scale and detailed history of what had been in effect the national library until 1973.

Work on this history began in 1987, and the book is to be published in 1998, coinciding with the move to St. Pancras. As the tasks of a major library such as the British Museum library are to acquire material, house it and preserve it for posterity, catalogue it, and make it available to the public, each chapter has sections dealing with the growth of the collections, their accommodation and cataloguing and the reading rooms in which they have been made available. All these tasks require a skilled and dedicated staff, and there is therefore a section in each chapter on staff matters.

Full references to original sources are given and there are numerous illustrations, as well as plans of the various buildings in which the collections have been preserved. Among the appendices is a list of some of the better known persons who have used the reading rooms.

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Planta as Principal Librarian the Beginning of Change
chapter in Parliamentary Enquiries 18281837
Panizzi and Madden 18371847

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