The British Library

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest national library in the world by number of items catalogued.It is estimated to contain 150–200 million+items from many countries.

The Library:

The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and the largest national library in the world by number of items catalogued. It is estimated to contain 150–200 million+ items from many countries. As a legal deposit library, the British Library receives copies of all books produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland, including a significant proportion of overseas titles distributed in the UK. The Library is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

For the British Library Website Click HERE

Facts and Figures:

  • The library receive a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland
  • The collection includes well over 150 million items, in most known languages
  • 3 million new items are added every year
  • The Library have manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints and drawings, music scores, and patents
  • The Sound Archive keeps sound recordings from 19th-century cylinders to CD, DVD and MD recordings
  • The library houses 8 million stamps and other philatelic items
  • All this requires over 625 km of shelves, and grows by 12 km every year
  • If you see 5 items each day, it would take you over 80,000 years to see the whole of the collection
  • The world's earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, is sometimes on display in our exhibition galleries alongside many other treasures
  • The library have on-site space for over 1,200 Readers
  • Over 16,000 people use the collections each day (on site and online)
  • Online catalogues, information and exhibitions can be found on this website
  • The library operate the world's largest document delivery service providing millions of items a year to customers all over the world
  • The British Library serves business and industry, researchers, academics and students, in the UK and world-wide

Each year:

  • Six million searches are generated by the British Library online catalogue
  • Nearly 400,000 visit our Reading Rooms
  • Over 100 million items have been supplied to users all over the world


Treasures include:

  • Magna Carta
  • Lindisfarne Gospels
  • Leonardo da Vinci's Notebook
  • The Times first edition from 18 March 1788
  • Beatles manuscripts
  • The recording of Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech

Holdings include:

  • Material over 3,000 years old (Chinese oracle bones) - and today's newspapers
  • 310,000 manuscript volumes: from Jane Austen to James Joyce; Handel to the Beatles
  • 60 million patents
  • Over 4 million maps
  • Over 260,000 journal titles
  • The building at St Pancras
  • The largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century
  • The basements extend to a depth of 24.5 metres
  • A total floor area of over 112,000 sq metres spread over 14 floors - 9 above ground, 5 below
  • 10 million bricks and 180,000 tonnes of concrete were needed to complete the building
  • Awarded grade I listed building status in August 2015
  • The buildings at Boston Spa
  • Originally an ordnance factory
  • Specifically designed for document delivery service processes
  • Over 100km of shelving housing a collection devoted to interlibrary loan.

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