London is a city that contains several interesting libraries and bookstores; it has also been home to a number of great writers and their works, and many creatives still come to London today to get inspired by its literary scene. If you are a book lover, it goes without saying that you should explore the libraries of this city, as each one has a range of intriguing collections which will no doubt draw your attention. Here is a list of five London libraries that you could spend this summer exploring:
National Art Library
If you are interested in fine art, decorative arts and art history, the National Art Library is one of the best libraries that you could find in London. It is interesting both because of its collection and location; being part of the Victoria and Albert Museum, it gives visitors the opportunity to both study in the library and visit the museum's exhibitions in the same space. Before you take a trip, it's worth noting that this library is open on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — but luckily, it's also known for its online blog, which contains an interesting selection of articles you can read on the go when they're closed.
National Poetry Library
Imagine that you are in a library full of poetry books, and you can read as many of them as you like... Well, to make this fantasy a reality, you can just visit the National Poetry Library, which is located in the Southbank Centre. The library's collection includes nearly 200,000 items, spanning from children's books, to poetry and fiction, to magazines, and everything in between. Best of all, you don't even need a membership to borrow them.
The British Library
Have you ever been to The British Library? If not, it's never too late to make your first foray there. The library contains a brilliant collection on even the most niche of subjects, but it also has educational activities for adults, children, schools and families, and a comprehensive blog you can follow online. This library also has an exceptional digital collection, which includes digitized manuscripts, maps and many other interesting things to explore.
The Barbican Library's collection is very interesting for those passionate about arts and culture — so, perfect for readers of the STRAND! There are also frequent events happening in the venue, from talks to tours, while their website has you covered if you enjoy articles (both short and long reads), and podcasts.
Bibliothèque Quentin Blake, Institut Français
If your interest lies in children’s fiction, then Bibliothéque Quentin Blake in London's Institut Français should be on your day-trip list. It is an educational library for children which also includes a lot of e-books and e-comics designed for younger readers. Alongside fiction, their collection also includes non-fiction books, cartoons, magazines and many more. The Institut Français also includes one of the largest collections of French language items, French newspapers and magazines, classic and contemporary novels, and visual art books for art lovers.
These five libraries are great places to spend time reading, writing, or exploring this summer. If you've never delved into London's library scene, it's not too late to start — and we hope this list has given you the inspiration to do so!
Edited by Holly Cornall, Literature Editor, and Talia Andrea, Editor-in-Chief