Long-Awaited British Library to Begin Gradual Opening
Kniffel, Leonard, American Libraries
The Humanities Reading Room of the new British Library at St. Pancras is scheduled to open November 24, beginning what is expected to be a gradual process that will culminate in a "Royal Opening" sometime next year, probably in June. The total move will involve 12 million monographs and serials, 39.5 million patents, 2 million maps, and 1,000 staff.
Three exhibition galleries and the book shop are scheduled to open April 2 and tours of the [pounds]51-million facility will begin. Portions will continue to open through 1999, when all 11 reading areas will be complete.
The new national library will house collections from 17 disparate reading rooms and study areas around London. The majority of what the new Humanities Reading Room will contain is being moved from the British Museum site at Bloomsbury. The British Library at Boston Spa in Yorkshire, which employs another 1,200 people, is not part of the consolidation.
"This is the first time we'll be running our own building totally," library spokesperson Marie Jackson told American Libraries. Library statistics have been unreliable in the past, Jackson said, but "half a million reader visits annually are expected" and "because of automation we will know all these [usage] numbers finally. …