Saturday 11 December 2010

British Libraries

Those who dwell beyond the seas will find nothing of worth in this post. I fear the same for those who wander in these windswept isles, but I shall persevere.

Did you know that if you have a library card you get remote access to the Oxford English Dictionary Online? I didn't. I'd been paying my subscription fees (or cajoling Mrs Malaprop into paying them for me). But all I needed to do was pop around to the gaily coloured ruin that the council so whimsically refers to as a library and get myself a card with a number on the back. Off to the OED website and Bob's your uncle and Stan's your gran.

(Incidentally, Bob (your uncle) was probably Lord Frederick Roberts, a Victorian general, known to his men as Uncle Bob.)

Anyway, you then get free access to the full OED, the biggy, the behemoth, the 30 volume monstrosity that takes up several shelves in the British Library with every date, every etymology... indeed it renders Inky Fool quite redundant.

So don't do it.

More particularly for Londoners: did you know that there's a poetry library above the Royal Festival Hall? I didn't, and I used to work in the damned building. I knew about the bar downstairs. I knew about the other bar round the corner that's so terribly hip until you notice the mice. But I had no idea that there was a free library of 20th Century poetry at the top, all stocked up and without any late fees (the chap apologetically told me that if I was several months late they might telephone).

So, my British bookworms, turn up, sign in, and take out.

Top floor, on the left.


  1. Beware of the moving bookcases in the poetry library or you might suffer the fate nearly meted out to the poor chap in 'The Pit and the Pendulum'. Don't say I didn't warn you.

  2. They are indeed a killer, and they won't stay still. I had a bit of a Starwars flashback whilst trying to borrow some Belloc. If it weren't for my immense strength and the determination that Belloc's cheery epigrams gave me to survive, I might be nothing more than a stain on a dust-jacket.

  3. It's surprising where you find unheralded poetry libraries - also unheralded poets. We are massing for an attack.

  4. Broken Biro, I believe you are a Librarian?

    Then welcome to our country!