British Library feted for architecture

LONDON • The British Library, home to more than 150 million items, was last week granted the highest accolade that can be given for a building in Britain.

Despite being only 17 years old, the British Library, the country's national library, is one of the youngest buildings ever to be designated as a Grade One Listed building.

The library in Central London's Euston Road was the largest public building constructed anywhere in Britain during the 20th century. It cost nearly US$800 million and took almost 16 years to build, opening in 1998.

The Magna Carta, Leonardo da Vinci's notebook, the first edition of the Times of London newspaper from 1788 and manuscripts of songs written by the pop group The Beatles are among the many items in its treasures gallery.

Original folios of works by William Shakespeare are also kept at the library.

Government Heritage Minister Tracey Crouch announced the listing on the advice of Historic England, saying the award was for the building's outstanding architecture.

It becomes one of fewer than 10,000 of Britain's important buildings to be granted the top layer Grade One listing.

Ms Crouch said: "The British Library divided opinion from the moment its design was revealed, but I am glad expert advice now allows me to list it, ensuring that its iconic design is protected for future generations to enjoy."

The library receives a copy of every publication produced in Britain and Ireland, with three million new items added every year.

As well as millions of books, the collection includes manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints and drawings, music scores and patents as well as an extensive sound archive.

The items are stored on more than 625km of shelves, growing by 12km every year.

Looking at one item a day would take almost half a billion years before one can finish viewing the entire collection.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2015, with the headline 'British Library feted for architecture'. Subscribe