The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest libraries. Its collection includes 150 million items, in most known languages, housed on over 625 km of shelves. Each year nearly half a million readers visit the reading rooms. The John Ritblat Gallery features treasures of the British Library and is open to all.
The origins of the British Library lie in the British Museum's Department of Printed Books, founded in 1753. The Museum's famous domed reading room opened in 1857, constructed in the courtyard of the British Museum. By the 1970s the Library had grown into one of the largest in the world, sustained by its privilege of legal deposit whereby it was entitled to a copy of most items printed in the United Kingdom - not only books and periodicals, but newspapers, maps and printed music. The need for increased storage space led to the move of the library, by now renamed the British Library, to new premises in St. Pancreas in 1998.
The department of Asia, Pacific & Africa Collections of the British Library has vast library collections covering books published in the region. The department also houses the archives of the India Office Library and Records, which reflect the interests and activities of the East India Company and the India Office. The Plant Cultures website features 65 paintings, prints and photographs from the British Library's Asian collections.
The British Library
Department of Asia, Pacific & Africa Collections
Asians in Britain
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