|Photo from the National Art Library website.|
The library works closely with the museum to support the work of staff members, especially of curators. Though readers normally consist of academics and students, library services are open to anyone with a name and address. Numerous reference books are available in the reading rooms as well as computer access and wifi.
Sally Williams, librarian, was our tour guide. She explained that with over 1,000,000 books, the library is one of the top three reference libraries in the world, on par with the Getty Museum. The libraries massive periodical collection contains 11,000 titles, 2,000 of which are current.
Many of the library's holdings are old and vaulable, even on the open shelf. The staff make an effort to educate readers of the proper handling of books. Many books in poor condition are transfered to book boxes.
|Exhibit from the National Art Library - |
Ballgowns: British Glamour Since 1950
The library also serves as the curatorial department for the design of the book, so some portion of the books in the collection are collected for their value as an object of book design. Some of these books are specifically designed as art, while others are appreciated as such. Two hundred and fifty of the libraries book arts collection are available to view on their website.
|Title page of original Bleak House manuscript.|
Overall, the National Art Library is a magical place and open to the public, as any national library in Britian. The library holds exhibitions every six months which helps to raise its profile. I think a visit to this library is necessary for anyone interested in the visual arts. It is a special collection. Additionally, there are resources and reading guides for scholars posted on the library's website.