Talk:British Library

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Image request[edit]

Could any of you who have access there, perhaps look for letter by Mara Bar-Serapion preserved in a 6th or 7th century manuscript (BL Add. 14658) at the British Library and upload an image? That would look good on his page. Thanks. History2007 (talk) 20:15, 6 April 2012 (UTC)

Clarification required about the size comparison.[edit]

The article states that "The Library's collections include around 14 million books[4] (second only to the United States' Library of Congress)". However, Russian State Library has 17.8 mln "books and booklets", according to this page, which RSL's article uses for reference - http://leninka.ru/index.php?doc=2661 (in Russian). I was not able to find the difinition of what the British Library considers to be "books", but can the difinitive statement that it is "second only to the United States' Library of Congress" be altered or removed due to this conflict of information? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 98.195.122.56 (talk) 19:22, 21 September 2012 (UTC)

This is (and has always been) a problem with library size figures! There is no one standard for what a "book" is, how to count (eg) multi-volume works or multiple works in a single volume, whether to count manuscripts, how to count bound journals, what constitutes a pamphlet versus a book...
The BL's figure (annual report, p.33) is explictly for "monographs" - it doesn't cover serial parts. The RSL is somewhat more vague; what exactly are "брошюры"? Pamphlets? The Russian State Library article glosses it as "over 17 million books and serial volumes", which may give a clue - most individual issues of journals are slim paperbacks before rebinding, and I can easily understand "pamphlet" being used for them.
One other metric is shelf size, which is independent of what's actually in the shelves. The BL report gives a total figure of 677.5km of occupied shelving; the RSL article quotes 275km, which suggests the total collection is noticeably smaller. However, I can't seem to find one for LoC!
Ideally, what we'd want here would be some kind of third party list ranking libraries by size, but (oddly enough) there doesn't seem to be many out there. Andrew Gray (talk) 10:05, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
I agree with all the above: comparative figures are quite meaningless unless based on some agreed common international standard, which as far as I'm aware doesn't exist. (Even shelving lengths aren't reliable, as shelves can be packed in different ways.) Pending the unearthing of any such objective comparative listing, shouldn't we change the description in the lead to "one of the world's largest libraries", and remove the direct comparison with LoC entirely? GrindtXX (talk) 16:58, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
That seems a sensible solution. Fire away! Andrew Gray (talk) 17:39, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
This problem still hasn't been addressed. It is also on the LOC page. I'm going to make an edit. I do agree that these sort of comparisons are pretty meaningless, but at the same time I do think it is the kind of information that users will find useful. If there was a page on the complexities of sizing a library I would link it but I don't think there is one. I will simply note that it is a rather meaningless claim. Curzmg (talk) 19:27, 17 April 2014 (UTC)
I'm very happy with your wording, but we'll have to see whether it lasts. This statement has been edited a number of times, but people like absolute claims, and somebody always seems to change it back. GrindtXX (talk) 21:35, 17 April 2014 (UTC)

Construction issues[edit]

I am amazed to discover that this article makes no reference at all to the decades of design changes, construction delays and funding wrangles involved in the building of the Euston Road site, as extensively covered in the media in the 1990s before it opened. That needs to be rectified.

Here are some references: a mention in a book about North London architecture, a journal article about the technical challenges of moving the collections, an article about the subterranean engineering of the site in 1982, a piece about the "planning disaster", with references to government reports. — Scott talk 14:48, 20 August 2013 (UTC)

Largest Library[edit]

I understand the difficulty in trying to guage the largest library but the Library's own Wikipedia page states 150 million items. Also, the "Facts and Figures" page states that it has only 150 million items. I understand there is one piece of data that states 170 but that cannot be corroborated, even by it's own website. The British Library website is contradictory on this point. The Library of Congress is consistent in that it is at 158 million items.Petercannon usf (talk) 02:28, 14 July 2014 (UTC)