British Library Map P

@ switchboard 74441500, visitor services 7412 7332;; 96 Euston Rd NW1; admission free; S 10am-6pm Mon & Wed-Fri, 9.30am-8pm Tue, 9.30am-5pm Sat, 11am-5pmSun; ■©■ King's Cross; ® The British Library moved to these spanking-new premises between King's Cross and Euston Stations in 1998, and at a cost of £500 million it was Britain's most expensive building, and not one that is universally loved; Colin St John Wilson's exterior of straight lines of red brick, which Prince Charles reckoned was akin to a 'secret-police building', is certainly not to all tastes. But even people who don't like the building from the outside can't fault the spectacularly cool and spacious interior.

It is the nation's principal copyright library and stocks one copy of every British publication as well as historical manuscripts, books and maps from the British Museum. The library counts some 186 miles of shelving on four basement levels and will have some 12 million volumes when it reaches the limit of its storage capacity.

At the centre of the building is the wonderful King's Library, the 65,000-volume collection of the insane George III, which was given to the nation by his son, George IV, in 1823 and is now housed in a six-storey, 17m-high glass-walled tower. To the left as you enter are the library's excellent bookshop and exhibition galleries.

Most of the complex is devoted to storage and scholarly research, but there are also several public displays including the John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library, which spans almost three millennia and every continent. Among the most important documents here are the Magna Carta (1215); the Codex Sinaiticus, the first complete text of the New Testament, written in Greek in the 4th century; a Gutenberg Bible (1455), the first Western book printed using movable type; Shakespeare's First Folio (1623); manuscripts by some of Britain's best-known authors (eg Lewis Carroll, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy); and even some of the Beatles' earliest hand-written lyrics.

You can hear historic recordings, such as the first one ever, made by Thomas Edison in 1877, James Joyce reading from Ulysses and Nelson Mandela's famous speech at the Rivonia trial in 1964, at the National Sound

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Castle's 22 A2

Chapel Market 23 D3

Diwana Bhel Poori House 24 A4

Duke of Cambridge 25 E3

El Parador 26 A3

Fishworks (see 28)

Gallipoli 27 D3

Callipoli Again 28 D2

Giraffe 29 D3

Glas 30 D3

Islington Farmers' Market 31 D2

Le Mercury 32 D2

Mango Room 33 A3

Masala Zone 34 D3

Mestizo 35 A4

Metrogusto 36 D3

Ottolenghi 37 D2

Ravi Shankar 38 A4

Snazz.Sichuan 39 B4

SIGHTS (pp165-70,172)

British Library 1 B4

Camden Market 2 A2

Estorick Collection of Modern

Italian Art 3 D2

Euston Fire Station 4 B4

Jewish Museum 5 A3

London Canal Museum 6 C3

St Paneras International 7 B4

SHOPPING Q (pp215-34)

Annie's Vintage Costumes &.

Textiles (see 10)

Aria 8 D2

Camden Lock Market 9 A2

Camden Market (see 2)

Camden Passage Market 10 D3

Haggle Vinyl 11 E2

Housmans 12 C4

Past Caring 13 E3

EATING Q] (pp235-75)

Acorn House 14 C4

Addis 15 C4

Afghan Kitchen 16 D3

Asakusa 17 A3

BarGansa 18 A2

Breakfast Club (see 10)

Café Corfu 19 A3

Cantina Italia 20 D2

Casale Franco 21 D3

DRINKING BQ (pp277-96)

Bar Vinyl 40 A3

Big Chill House 41 C4

Crown &. Goose 42 A3

Edinboro Castle 43 A3

Elbow Room 44 D3

Elk in the Woods 45 D3

Embassy 46 E2

Medicine Bar 47 D2

Ruby Lounge 48 C4

Salmon & Compass 49 D3

Carling Academy Islington 50 D3

Cross 51 B3

Dublin Castle 52 A3

Egg 53 B2

Garage 54 D1

Jongleurs Camden Lock 56 A2

Koko 57 A3

Uncle Sam's Bar 58 F2

Underworld 59 A3

Union Chapel 60 D2

Vortex Jazz Club 61 F1

ARTS 0 (pp311-21)

Almeida Theatre 62 D2

Rio Cinema 63 F1

Screen on the Green 64 D3

GAY & LESBIAN (pp331-39)

Black Cap 65 A3

66 Camden Square 66 B2

Ashlee House 67 C4

Clink 68 C4

Premier Travel Inn 69 B4

St Christopher's

Inn Camden 70 A3

YHA St Paneras

International 71 B4

Archive Jukeboxes, where the selections are changed regularly. The Turning the Pages exhibit allows you a 'virtual browse' through several important texts including the Sforza Book of Hours, the Diamond Sutra and a Leonardo da Vinci notebook.

The Philatelic Exhibition, next to the John Ritblat Gallery, is based on collections established in 1891 with the bequest of the Tapling Collection, and now consists of more than 80,000 items, including postage and revenue stamps, postal stationery and first-day covers from almost every country and from all periods.

The Workshop of Words, Sounds & Images documents the development of writing and communicating through the written word by carefully examining the work of early scribes, printers and bookbinders. The sound section compares recordings on different media, from early-20th-century wax cylinders to modern CDs. The Pearson Gallery hosts some sensational special exhibitions, ranging from 'Oscar Wilde: A Life in Six Acts' to 'Chinese Printing Today'.

Access to the reading rooms is by reader's pass only. See the website for details of how to apply for one and the conditions that need to be met.

There are guided tours (adult/child £8/6.50) at 3pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday and at 10.30am and 3pm Saturday of the library's public areas, and another that includes a visit to one of the reading rooms at 11,30am and 3pm Sunday. Call the main number to make a booking.

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