Tuesday, July 5, 2011

St. Paul's Cathedral Library

Our very first visit was to St. Paul's Cathedral Library to tour with Joseph Wisdom (the most appropriately named librarian in history!) The Cathedral  famously designed by Christopher Wren, rebuilt between 1675-1710 after the Great Fire of London. The Cathedral is perhaps one of the most famous London landmarks and is visited by tourists year round, both religious and non-religious alike. Joseph Wisdom pointed out to us the west door of the Cathedral, specifically the book and heart of stone above the door. Two possible meanings can be either that the Word is preached in this place or this place loves books and learning. I'd like to think that both apply. We headed upstairs to the actual library, specifically the Triforium level, climbing 140 steps to the library area.  Seeing the Triforium level, we saw a variety of artifacts, including stones, engravings of the Cathedral, and busts. However, there was no coherence to these items, yet they were so interesting to view.

The next thing to view was what was called the Geometric Stairs which gives access to the library. I found the staircase beautiful and exciting because it was used in the filming of the third Harry Potter movie! Although those with vertigo, beware! Over the door to the librarians office is the Latin phrase, "Facidendi plures libros nullus est finis." Translated, this means "Of making many books, there is no end." I found this to be an interesting addition above the office door.

Finally, we saw the library itself which was full of books; complete with the musty smell, and dust which is like  perfume to me and one of the reasons I love history and old books. Mr. Wisdom was so knowledgeable about the history of the books, the acquisition of many books donated and bought about theology, and more recently books written about the Cathedral itself.
We discussed the care and keeping of the books and learned how to retrieve and pull a book from the shelf without damaging it in any way.

Picture taken from Google Search

Perhaps the most interesting aspect was who uses the library. Mr. Wisdom stated that novel writers that need historical information use  the library's materials, music and hymn books, Donne's sermons, and even genealogy.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the library and the history of the Cathedral as well. It's fascinating to learn more about the lesser known library within the well-known Wren Cathedral.

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