We are pleased to announce that just under 5,200 serials of records of the British Museum have just been loaded into SUNCAT. The British Museum is SUNCAT’s seventh new Contributing Library of this year. This brings the total number of libraries in SUNCAT to 99, plus the CONSER database, ISSN register and Directory of Open Access Journals. Who will be the hundredth?
The British Museum, which is located on Great Russell Street in Central London, was founded in 1753 and was the first national public museum in the world. The founding collections largely consisted of books, manuscripts and natural specimens with some antiquities (including coins and medals, prints and drawings) and ethnographic material. In 1757 King George II donated the ‘Old Royal Library’ of the sovereigns of England and with it the privilege of copyright receipt.
In the early part of the nineteenth century there were a number of high profile acquisitions. These included the Rosetta Stone (1802), the Townley collection of classical sculpture (1805), and the Parthenon sculptures (1816).
In 1823 the gift to the nation by George IV of his father’s library (the King’s Library) prompted the construction of today’s quadrangular building designed by Sir Robert Smirke (1780–1867). In 1997 the books of the King’s Library were transferred to their new home in the King’s Library Tower in the new British Library building at St Pancras, London. The books currently occupying the cases in the King’s Library are on long term loan from the House of Commons library. The King’s Library, now known as the Enlightenment Gallery, was restored between 2000 -2003.
Sir Augustus Wollaston Franks (1826–97) expanded the collection in new directions, collecting not only British and medieval antiquities but also prehistoric, ethnographic and archaeological material from Europe and beyond as well as oriental art and objects.
During the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Museum has continued to expand its public facilities with the opening of four new permanent galleries in 2008/9.
The British Museum has a number of departmental libraries, including those of:
- Ancient Egypt and Sudan;
- Anthropology Library and Research Centre;
- Coins and Medals;
- Conservation and Scientific Research;
- Greece and Rome;
- Middle East;
- Prehistory and Europe;
- Prints and Drawings.
The Anthropology Library is renowned for its extensive journal collection: over 1,500 periodical titles are currently subscribed to with approximately 4,000 titles held in total.
The Library of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan has a particularly strong collection of older material (including journals going back to the nineteenth century), museum and exhibition catalogues (around 1,800 items), auction catalogues, and the Nubia and Sudan section. Special collections include the Rare Book Collection, Pamphlet Collection and the Roxie Walker Collection (books on Physical Anthropology). The library also houses over 200 runs of journals, of which 110 are current.
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