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Little-Known Libraries in London

Knowledge is usually encrypted in books that provide a great medium of passing on vital information from generation to generation. In every city of the world, books are maintained in libraries so that residents and even visitors can consult them to do research and to gain knowledge contained in them. Libraries also offer novels, magazines, periodicals and newspapers as well as DVDs so that people can derive information and entertainment besides getting knowledge. In a large and important city like London there are many large libraries such as The British Library, The London Library and RHS Lindley Library that contain hundreds of thousands of books and research material. However, there are many other little-known libraries tucked away in its nooks and crannies that are slightly out of the ordinary places. Eight such libraries are being described below.

Library in london

St Bride Library:

Located on Bride Lane, Fleet Street, this library is situated within an 1894 brick Victorian building and it specialises in the realm of graphics. Offering more than 50,000 books in the fields of visual styles, printing techniques, graphic design, typography, and calligraphy, this library also has a large store of artefacts covering the period from the 17th to the 20th centuries, including copper plates, wood blocks, and lithographic stones. Its interiors exude a strong smell of ink indicating the library’s association with printing for hundreds of years.

Guildhall Library:

Located at Aldermanbury, this library is dedicated to the history of London through its collection that has over 200,000 titles from the past 700 years. Every aspect of life in London is covered by books, pamphlets, periodicals and other material that deal with diverse subjects ranging from clockmakers, records and British parliamentary papers to books on wine and maritime history.

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The Women’s Library:

Located within the London School of Economics on Portugal Street, this library focuses on the changes in the lives of women due to political, economic and social factors, during the past 100 years. The library contains more than 60,000 books and pamphlets, 3,000 periodical titles, 500 archives, and over 5,000 artefacts. The important items in the collection include the personal archives of British female activists and the campaign material of women’s suffrage societies.

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The Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust & Genocide:

Located on Russell Square, this library is the world’s oldest Holocaust library, having more than one million items that relate to the persecution of Jews by the Nazis. Founded in Berlin in the 1920s, it moved to Amsterdam in 1958 and relocated again to London in a scrappy Marylebone townhouse, before moving to Russell Square. It was of great help to the prosecutors in the Nuremberg Trial and it also helped to record the testimonies of survivors. Its collection includes a historic board game to identify the player who rounds up the most Jews, telephone directories giving information regarding Jewish residents marked for displacement, and writings of former SS officers. Jewish families keep on feeding the library with material to ensure that an experience like the Holocaust does not get repeated.

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The Saison Poetry Library:

Situated at the Royal Festival Hall, it offers the most comprehensive collection of British poetry from 1912 onward and it has a collection of more than 200,000 items. It has in its stock all titles published in the UK and it offers a rotating exhibition space in which works of artists concerned with text and poetry are featured. It also offers the Lost Quotations Query that helps in tracking down a full poem based on just one or two lines.

Westminster Music Library:

Located on Buckingham Palace Road and situated within the Victoria Library, it is the largest clearing house for public music in the UK. It has over 80,000 items including orchestral sets that professional and amateur groups can hire, and original manuscripts and printed music dating to the 18th century.

Marx Memorial Library:

It holds tens of thousands of books, newspapers, and pamphlets at its premises on Clerkenwell Green. The collection covers Marxist and Scientific Socialist thought and the history of the working class. The wall of the first floor reading room is decorated by a large fresco-style mural by Viscount Hastings, which is titled “The Worker of the Future Clearing Away the Chaos of Capitalism,” and it depicts events and the main players in the history of the British Labour movement. Lenin is believed to have worked here from April 1902 to May 1903. This little office is well-preserved and open to the public.

The Vinyl Library:

It was just about a year or so back that two garage DJs, Elly Rendall and Sophie Austin, set up this library that until July 2014 was situated in a small storefront adjacent to a luxury kitchen shop in Stoke Newington. It is run by volunteers and works on a not-for-profit basis. This vinyl-only lending library operates solely with the help of donations from the general public. It costs just ten pounds a month to join the library and members can get access to the library and to events such as pop up workshops, listening evenings and mixing lessons.

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