Pounds 500m library to improve services

3rd January 1997 at 00:00
Last month the new British Library, next to St Pancras station, received the first delivery of at least 10 million volumes from its home of 150 years in the heart of the British Museum in Bloomsbury. This will be the biggest book move yet.

The Pounds 500 million library began life as a hole in the ground on a desolate north London site 15 years ago, and has since been a constant source of controversy. Critics, including Prince Charles, said it was ugly, that it was a victim to design faults, and that it suffered from Government cuts which led to delays in completion.

The huge red-brick building will not be fully open to the public until the end of 1998, but the library's education department hopes to offer services to schools from the spring of 1998.

The department, which has operated on a modest level for the past five years in Bloomsbury, offers workshops for key stage 2 children in history, art, English and religious education; gallery talks and lectures for school groups; workshops on specific themes or exhibitions; study days for teachers; and resources, including books, videos and CD-Roms.

Karen Brookfield and Kate Barnes, the two full-time education officers, have just completed their fifth series of workshops. They involve one class a day for four weeks when 11-year-olds can practise the art of calligraphy and bookbinding as well as visit the galleries and learn about the collections.

"I never knew that all those books were King George III's." "I had a lovely time at the British Library. I learnt so much that I can't remember," are two entries from a scrapbook compiled by Year 4 pupils from All Souls' School, Marylebone, London, which will go into the education department's archives.

A free, termly teachers' newsletter, Sources, is available from the British Library Education Service, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG; tel: 0171 412 7797; fax: 0171 412 7508; e-mail: education@bl.uk

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