Formerly located in the British Museum, the British Library is now located next to St Pancras station after the post-modern red brick building was commissioned by Margaret Thatcher in 1992.
After the transfer of the library it was first opened in 1999. The front of the Library is marked with a statue of Sir Isaac Newton by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi. Within the British Library is the John Ritlat Gallery which houses some of the world's rarest and most precious manuscripts and books including the 'Magna Carta'. In fact the British Library houses over 12 million books and manuscripts as well as a collection of the rarest classical stamps in the world. Central to the British Library is the Kings Library: a glass-walled, six storey tower with internal lifts.
The library was presented to the nation in 1823 by King George IV and the collection was started by King George III. The British Library regularly holds exhibitions and lectures for the public. Also included in the British Library are the National Sound Archive and Humanities Reading Room. There is a café and restaurant within the library which offers an excellent view of the Kings Library.
Though a modern building, the British Library is architecturally impressive and the Kings Library is worth the visit alone. Admission to the library is free and although guided tours hold a charge they are very informative and interesting.
Places to spend a rainy day
The British Library has a copy of every single publication ever printed in the UK, including the Magna Carta! Given the sheer number of items they have there are no books on shelves, so instead you need to register for a reader pass and stay in the library’s reading rooms, but it’s a lovely way to spend a few studious hours.