Ten things you didn't know about the British Library;Twenty things

29th May 1998 at 01:00
* It has the deepest basement in London

* The mechanical book-handling system can shunt books from the basement to the reading rooms within 15 minutes

* The library holds 12 million books, 2 million maps, and 1.5 million music scores

* The 1 million sound recordings include Kenny Everett's studio tapes and 5,000 samples of bird song

* There are 86 miles of shelving

* In 1996 a ghost (a weeping man in 18th-century dress) was reported to be disturbing the builders

* Each chair and desk in the reading rooms has its own light and power supply for a personal computer

* There are 4,000 smoke detectors

* Bricks were used for the facade because they look better with time; they came from the same site as those in the neighbouring, gothic-style St Pancras Chambers

* The building is expected to have a working life of 200 to 250 years, with most new developments being electronic rather than structural

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