Latest Issue

Library of sighs

The belated opening of the new British Library is the culmination of a 50 year argument over the whole library system. Nicolas Barker recalls the twists and turns in the story and his role in persuading Margaret Thatcher to agree to the new building on Euston Road

By Nicolas Barker   December 1997

The british library-the very name conjures up an image of intellectual vandalism; “them” again at their dread antics; failing to act when action was needed; getting it wrong when “they” finally came to do something. But as John Bright said of the Union side in the American civil war, we have somehow managed to “muddle through.” On 24th November, the new library will open its doors to the first readers. It will be a “soft opening,” as they say in the hotel trade-no great fanfare at the beginning, although a royal ceremony is planned for next June. For a project…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect