iUniverse review today takes you on a tour of the British Library, 1 of the 2 biggest libraries in the world, alongside The US Library of Congress.
The title above refers to the most common first words of Buddhist texts and the context here is that amongst the treasures housed in the British Library is the Diamond Sutra, which is the earliest example of block printing that bears an actual date. The colophon, at the inner end, reads: made for universal distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his parents on the 15th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong, 11th May 868, approximately 587 years before the Gutenberg Bible was first printed.
The extant copy is a scroll, approximately 16 feet long. It was discovered in 1907 by the archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein and then purchased from the walled-up “Caves of the 1000 Buddhas”, which can be found at Dunhuang, northwest China.
Other treasures in the Library include
- The Magna Carta
- The Lindisfarne Gospels
- Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook
- The first edition of The Times, 18th March 1788
- The Beatles manuscripts
- Nelson Mandela’s Rivonia trial speech recording
iUniverse review hails a remarkable edifice
The British library is truly remarkable- the new building at St Pancras opened in 1998 and is the biggest public building constructed in the UK during the 20th century. The building has a total floor area of over 112,000 square metres over 14 floors – 9 that are above ground and 5 below, which extend 24.5 metres deep.
Over 625 km of shelves, and growing by 12 km every year, are required to house the collection of well over 150 million items, in most languages, and about 3 million are added annually.
Included in this vast collection are Chinese oracle bones, over 3,000 years old – and today’s daily newspapers, 310,000 manuscript volumes: from Jane Austen to James Joyce; Handel to the Beatles. This compares to say the 35,000 published authors in our iUniverse Bookstore. In addition there are 60 million patents, over 4 million maps, over 260,000 journal titles and 8 million stamps.
iUniverse review urges you to visit online or in person
Over 16,000 people use the collections each day (on site and online) and the Library operates the world’s largest document delivery service providing millions of items a year to customers all over the world. Receiving a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland, it would take you over 400,000 years to see the whole of the collection if you only looked at 1 item a day.
iUniverse review says this magnificent warehouse of literature is a must for your writing inspiration.