Sunday, August 14, 2011
Middle Temple Library
Middle Temple Library is one of the “Inns of Court,” that is, a place for lawyers to join and work, eat, and congregate. Lawyers in London must join one of the four Inns, with each Inn specializing in specific types of law. Middle Temple has a large American material collection and with 6 of the Middle Temple members signing the Declaration of Independence, Middle Temple has strong ties to America. The library has American text books, law books, a collection on capital punishment, ecclesiastical law, etc. The library deals with American and EU law, primarily. The collections are used by British researchers and lawyers. There are advocacy rooms and suites available for teaching and seminars and journals, legislations and trials are all available for use on the second floor. There is no classification system for the collections, other than alphabetical subject. There are also no classification markings on the books, as the patrons do not like their book covers neat and free of classification marks. Some of the most interesting artifacts in the library is the pair of the earliest celestial and terrestrial globes made by Molyneux, an English globemaker. Only six of his globes are still in existence today. Shakespeare was inspired by those globes and famous maps of the time; he even wrote about them in some of his plays.
Also, Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night was performed in the Great Hall at Middle Temple in 1602, with Shakespeare rumored to have been performing as part of the cast.
The library also is home to the Robert Ashley’s personal collection of books. The founder of Middle Temple Library, Ashley gave his books on science, medicine, geology, exploration, and religion to the growing library at his death. The library also acquired 80 books from John Donne’s personal collection.
The Hall was built in 1570 and was a place for qualifying sessions, dinners, performances and a general gathering place. Some of the famous members that have become a part of Middle Temple include, Charles Dickens, Sir Walter Raleigh, David Cameron( current Prime Minister), and Prince William.
Middle Temple is steeped in history and the library is no exception; the library contains much more than law books, the special collections and donations and acquired books make the library appeal to more than those interested in law; anyone interested in gaining knowledge would benefit from Middle Temple Library.