Wednesday, July 7

British Museum Reference Library

The Paul Hamlyn Library is a public library located in The British Museum and was the 1st public library in the United Kingdom. The library is funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and aims to help anyone who visits the Museum. The main library is contained within one room and uses the Dewey decimal system to catalog its materials. The collection is mainly dedicated to housing archeology, anthropology and museum studies materials. The library has been moved 14 times in the last year and its original location was in the center of the museum courtyard and was one of the first places with electric lights. Although this is the public library, each department also has its own library, which has its own homemade classification system. As a whole, the museum libraries have over 500,000 volumes.

The museum Paul Hamlyn Library itself holds 50,000 of these volumes and journals to help the public with information on the museum and the items within. Although these items may not be checked out, the library does have photocopying facilities. The library also has children's books and teacher resources available, and also has regular story time gathering for schoolchildren.

Also on the tour we were privileged to view the “room behind the hidden door”. What used to be Sand Script Library is located off of the Enlightenment Gallery through the hidden door disguised as a bookcase. The Enlightenment gallery originally housed the Royal Library donated by George IV. The Sand Script room contains the archives, also the staff and rare book reading rooms. One of the collections that are in this room, one of many, is the collection of Museum posters, which are being collected back to the first printing.
The Paul Hamlyn Library shares the website with the British Museum at

1 comment:

  1. I went to a contemporary art fair in Shanghai recently, which was a real eye-opener. Chinese contemporary art has come leaps and bounds from the watery Zen landscapes to huge canvases of strange-looking beings. The prices being asked and paid were huge too.
    Oriental, if not Chinese, my print of Jean-Léon Gérôme's painting,, bought some time ago from, is as lovely as ever.