The National Library of United Kingdom.

Based in London adjacent to the St Pancras railway station the British Library has significant collections of manuscripts, incunabula (early printed books), British books, European books, books from the former Empire as well as modern scientific collections, newspaper archives and a collection of porn to rival the Library of Congress.

Originally founded as the library of the British Museum, the library is now completely separate from the British Museum. Interestingly enough when the materials were divided between the library and the museum, anything written on pliable, planar media (paper, vellum, papyrus …) was given to the library, everything else (stone and earthenware tablets, engraved ivory and metals …) was given to the museum.

Significant early acquistions included:

A gift by C. M. Cracherode of 4,500 books in 1799
The Lansdowne Manuscripts in 1807
Sir Joseph Banks's library in 1827
George III's library given by George IV in 1823
Egerton Manuscripts given by the Earl of Bridgewater in 1830

http://www.bl.uk/

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