MY FAVOURITE LIBRARY
There are many libraries which I use regularly in London, some to borrow books from, some as quiet places to work in, but the Westminster Central Reference Library is unique, in a small street just off Leicester Square, it is run by the London borough of Westminster. You don't need a ticket to get in, and it is available to foreign visitors just the same as to local residents. You simply walk in, and there, on three floors, you can consult about 138,000 reference books and they include some very remarkable and useful items. As you come in, the first alcove on the right contains telephone directories of almost every country in the world — Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, and so on, besides directories of important addresses in each country. There is also a street directory of every British town of any size, with the streets in alphabetical order, and the residents' names, as a rule, against their number in the street, while in another section the residents themselves are listed in alphabetical order. Next there are technical dictionaries in all the principal languages. I counted 60 specialised technical dictionaries for Russian alone. Then there is a section which, besides the best world atlases, contains individual atlases of a great many countries, some of them almost too heavy to lift. Seven hundred periodicals, mostly technical, are taken by the library, and the latest issues are put out on racks nearby. By asking at the enquiry desk you can see maps of the whole of Britain on the scale of 1/60,000 and 1/24,000, and smaller-scale maps of nearly every other country in Europe. Around the walls, on this floor and the floor above, are reference books on every possible subject, including, for instance, standard works of English literature and criticism. Foreign literature, however, is represented mainly by anthologies. Finally, on the top floor of all, is a wonderful art library, where you can take down from...
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