Last week’s attempt at checking out the British Library had been thwarted by the fact that you need to join as a reader before you could enter any of the reading rooms. This week I was more prepared with:
- A proof of signature (my passport); and
- A proof of residency (my bank statement)
After you fill out an online application form detailing things such as what research project you are working on, what resources you have tried, what other libraries you have visited and what your book reading list is, you are given a brief introduction to the library by a New Reader Admissions Officer. Soon after you are issued with a card and are on your way to accessing pretty much, as its website states, “The World’s Knowledge” made available from over 200 miles of books, journals and other archived media and information.
With the ability to get access to the reading rooms, I headed to the software section (it is what I said my research project was on) and it just so happened to be the top floor. It is extremely surreal entering the reading rooms, almost like another world. You must adhere to strict rules when entering the rooms such as you cannot bring coats, bags, food or drink and anything taken in must be carried around in zip-lock carry bags they provide. Internet access is provided for free from many terminals and Wi-Fi is available upon request and with payment. The top floor looks out on all of the other floors, and it is simply breath taking to see all the other researchers sitting in the well spaced and almost luxurious cubicles with a wealth of information at their finger tips.
Pretty much any book in the archive can be requested, although some may be better to ask for in advance with the retrieval process taking up to 70 minutes. A quick scan of their catalogue has pretty much every book I would ever want and the books on the shelves seemed quite up to date as well.
The library is an amazing place and is definitely well worth signing up.
The Kua Rating: 9 out of 10