Celebrating National Libraries Day
We at HTTP spend (varying) amounts of times in the library. Find out about some of our favourite spots in our post to celebrate National Libraries Day…
I associate different libraries with different memories, or moments of writing, so I often try to find new places for new thoughts (a current favourite is the Cambridge to London King’s Cross train, half past the hour). So I don’t really have an all-time favourite one. Here are some of my favourite UK based ones. I have an adoration for the LSE library, which is so busy and lively, yet has beautiful modern architecture that simultaneously induces and negates calmness. Then, there is the strange love affair I had with the Modern and Medieval Languages Library (MML) in Cambridge: it has no sockets for plugging in laptops and always smells stale…On that note, I miss working at Clare College’s Forbes Mellon Library for the cozy, yet studious, atmosphere on Friday evenings.
If it weren’t for its awkward opening hours, my favourite library would have to be that of the German Historical Institute in London. Situated on Bloomsbury Square in a gorgeous early 19th century house, nearly opposite the British museum, a library couldn’t get any more ‘British’. And yet, as you walk through the door, you are greeted by a German receptionist and, as you walk into the reading rooms, sink your feet into the thick blue carpet and look up at the mostly German books stacked to the ceiling, you realise that this is, in fact, a little piece of Germany. The reason I love it today is that I can reach for nearly any book and find it captivating. But also, and perhaps more importantly, it was there that, for the first time in my life, as German and History BA student, I realised what research meant and what stores of knowledge preceded me.
Well, as far as outside appearances are concerned, I love the British Library in London – and I’m also immensely grateful to it, and other legal deposit libraries, for all the resources they’ve placed at my fingertips. If we’re talking interior environment, though, I’d have to choose the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. I never did much work in it, but I did enjoy many happy hours of procrastination there – and the sonorous ticking of the terrifying ‘Chronophage’ clock outside adds a touch of drama to the place… Aesthetics aside, I also have very warm memories of the Churchill College library, Cambridge. It’s rare that I find a library with a soothing enough atmosphere that I’m happy to work in it (I normally favour a ‘raid the shelves and race for home’ approach), but the Churchill library was one of the few.
We are certainly spoilt for libraries in Cambridge. I love the architecture of the Seeley Library; the fact that a library can be built like an open book is pretty creative (despite what some might say) and it looks beautiful lit up at night. I also very much like the University Library in Cambridge for the obvious reason – it has every single book, which makes it invaluable for research. The tea room is also a great place to take a break, with its delicious food and, of course, a cup of tea…