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  • ATBL

    The American Trust for the British Library is a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to promote and support the work of one of the world’s greatest research libraries. The Trust was founded in 1979 and is supported through the generosity of its wide membership in the United States and the United Kingdom.
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Queen Elizabeth I Letters donation

The British Library is pleased to announce the donation to its American Trust of 43 historically important letters, written by Queen Elizabeth I and senior courtiers, relating to the imprisonment of Mary, Queen of Scots.

Many of the letters were written to Sir Ralph Sadler, who was entrusted with the custody of Mary, Queen of Scots, at Tutbury Castle in Staffordshire, between 1584-85, just a few years before her execution for treason in 1587. They include four letters signed by Elizabeth I, and many others in the hands of her Chief Minister, Lord Burghley, and her Secretary of State, Sir Francis Walsingham.

The collection, which is of significant historical importance, has been on loan to the Library for a number of years. The letters have been gifted by industrialist and philanthropist Mark Pigott KBE to the American Trust for the British Library and will enhance the Library’s extensive collections of original correspondence of the Tudor monarchs.

For more details and photographs, read the British Library press release.

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2018 at the British Library

The British Library revealed cultural highlights for 2018, including:

  • James Cook: The Voyages, a major exhibition marking 250 years since Captain James Cook set sail on three voyages that changed the world
  • Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms, a spectacular exhibition exploring the riches of Anglo-Saxon art and ideas over six centuries
  • The acquisition of Booker Prize-winning author Penelope Fitzgerald’s personal archive
  • A landmark exhibition commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Empire Windrush bringing hundreds of Caribbean migrants to their new home in the UK

More details in the press release.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic opens at the British Library from October 20, 2017 to February 28, 2018

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the exhibition combines centuries-old British Library treasures, including the oldest items in its collection, the Chinese Oracle bones, with original material from Harry Potter publisher Bloomsbury and J.K. Rowling’s own archives, on display for the first time.

The exhibition includes stunning loans from national and international institutions – including broomsticks, wands and crystal balls. A 400-year-old celestial globe, enhanced with augmented reality technology, in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, will enable visitors to explore the constellations in the night sky.

The British Library will also be simultaneously launching a regional roll-out of Harry Potter: A History of Magic with specially designed panels inspired by the London exhibition going on display in 20 public libraries across the UK, highlighting each library’s local connections to magic and folklore.

Exhibition highlights include:

  • Annotated sketch of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry by J.K. Rowling, complete with the giant squid that lives in the lake
  • J.K. Rowling’s handwritten list of the teachers and subjects at Hogwarts
  • Original artwork by Jim Kay for the illustrated Harry Potter editions, including paintings and sketches of Harry Potter, the Hogwarts Express, Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall and Hagrid
  • The Ripley Scroll – a 6 meter-long alchemical manuscript that describes how to make the Philosopher’s Stone, from the 1500s
  • Chinese Oracle bones – the oldest datable items in the British Library’s collection, one of which records a lunar eclipse that is precisely datable to December 27, 1192 BC
  • Celestial globe dating from 1693, made by Vincent Coronelli and brought to life using augmented reality technology, in collaboration with Google Arts & Culture, which enables visitors to spin the globe virtually and explore in detail the ancient constellations, some of which share their names with familiar characters from the Harry Potter stories, such as Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Bellatrix LeStrange and Draco Malfoy
  • An early written record of “abracadabra”, used as a charm to cure malaria
  • An Arabic illuminated manuscript showing male and female mandrakes
  • The tombstone of Nicolas Flamel, a real historical figure who also features in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
  • Black moon crystal ball, used by ‘Smelly Nelly’, a Paignton witch from the 20th century who had a taste for strong perfume
  • A mermaid, allegedly caught in Japan in the 18th century

Ahead of opening, Harry Potter: A History of Magic has already sold over 30,000 tickets – the highest amount of advance tickets ever sold for a British Library exhibition. Tickets and more information are available to buy from the British Library website.

EXHIBITION TRAVELING TO NEW YORK IN AUTUMN 2018

US fans will also be able to enjoy Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the New-York Historical Society in October 2018, following its run at the British Library in London.  This is the first time the British Library has taken an exhibition to the US.

The exhibition’s New York opening marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the US by Scholastic, following the 20th anniversary celebrations of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the UK. A companion book will be published by Scholastic in the US in autumn 2018.

ATBL Meets the Prince of Wales

David Redden, President,  Seana Anderson, Executive Director, and Trustees of the ATBL were invited to the opening of the Magna Carta Exhibition at the British Library on March 12, 2015.  David and Seana, as representatives of the ATBL, were presented to HRH Charles, the Prince of Wales, to receive acknowledgement of ATBL’s $56,000 in support of the Exhibition.  A video from Bill Clinton was played and thanks extended to The New York Public Library for its loan of Thomas Jefferson’s handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence; and to The US National Archives for its loan of the Delaware copy of the US Bill of Rights, both displayed in the UK for the first time ever.

British Library Current Exhibits

Comics Unmasked: Art and Anarchy in the UK

cartoonFeaturing such iconic names as Neil Gaiman (Sandman), Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta), Grant Morrison (Batman: Arkham Asylum) and Posy Simmonds (Tamara Drewe), this exhibition traces the British comics tradition back through classic 1970s titles including 2000AD, Action and Misty to 19th-century illustrated reports of Jack the Ripper and beyond.

Comics Unmasked is the UK’s largest ever exhibition of mainstream and underground comics, showcasing works that uncompromisingly address politics, gender, violence, sexuality and altered states. It explores the full anarchic range of the medium with works that challenge categorisation, preconceptions and the status quo, alongside original scripts, preparatory sketches and final artwork that demystify the creative process.

Enter the subversive and revelatory world of comics, from the earliest pioneers to today’s digital innovators; show runs to August 19, 2014.

Family Drop-In Event at the BL

alice posterYou are personally invited to a curious celebration of the nonsense world of Alice. Hunt the White Rabbit, create a curious upside-down, inside-out wonderland, play strange, silly or sensible games and so much more. But! Remember Rule forty-two:- “All persons more than a mile high to leave.”

That’s not all – we request that you come dressed up as your favourite character, watch not one but two tumbling hedgehogs, take tea (well maybe…) with a dormouse, and meet a flamingo – yes really, meet a flamingo!

Most important of all, see for yourself where it all started: ‘Alice’s Adventures Under Ground’ by Lewis Carroll is perhaps the most famous of all the British Library’s 19th-century literary manuscripts. It is Lewis Carroll’s first version of the work later published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), and it’s on display for you to see!!

Welcome from Roly Keating, New BL CEO

Since joining the British Library last September I have greatly appreciated the warm welcome I have received from everyone connected to this great institution, including members of the American Trust for the  British Library.

I have always been a huge admirer of the Library, and it is an enormous privilege now to lead it. Over the past few months I have been able to meet with many of our dedicated members of staff to learn about what they do, and have toured our sites extensively; at our St. Pancras building this has included visits to the basements and a tour of the roof top, as well as the six floors in between. This has enabled me to develop a thorough under-standing of the challenges we face, but more importantly of the great opportunities that are available as we seek to find new ways to share our treasured collections with both our national and international audience.

I am very grateful for the ATBL’s continuing and generous support of the British Library, in financial terms most recently for the King’s Topographical collection digitization project. I am looking forward to the visit by your members to London in March, when I hope you will have the opportunity to enjoy a visit to our exhibition on Mughal India, which has received outstanding reviews since it opened in November.

I am also planning a trip to the US at the end of April and, whilst this will be something of a whistle-stop tour across several states, I hope that I will have the opportunity of meeting some ATBL members. Over the months and years to come I look forward to working with you to continue to build on the great achievements of the British Library.

British Library Appoints New Chief Executive

Outgoing CEO Lynne Brindley, Photo:  BL ; Incoming CEO Roly Keating, Photo: BBC

Outgoing CEO Lynne Brindley, Photo: BL; Roly Keating, Photo: BBC

The Board of the British Library has appointed Roly Keating as the Library’s new Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Keating, currently Director of Archive Content at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and a former Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, will take up his new role on September 12, 2012.

Baroness Tessa Blackstone, Chairman of the British Library, said, “Roly Keating has a strong record of creative leadership and strategic innovation at the BBC. He has  a deep commitment to the digital information environment. He is the ideal person to build on the successes of the British Library to ensure that the Library continues to be a leading-edge provider of knowledge as we take forward our Vision for 2020. I look forward to working with him.”

Mr. Keating said, “It’s a huge honor to have the opportunity to lead one of the UK’s greatest cultural institutions. Under Lynne Brindley’s leadership the British Library set standards for the world in the quality of its curatorship and the boldness of its thinking around the new technology. I am looking forward to working with the Library’s talented staff to take it on the next stage of its journey into the digital age.”

Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC, said, “During Roly’s 29 years at the BBC he has proved to be one of the corporation’s greatest cultural heavyweights. Roly has always had a keen understanding of the BBC ethos of making the good popular and the popular good. His most recent role as Director of Archive enabled him to start the vital work of opening up the BBC’s archive, making it accessible to audiences across the world. We are hugely grateful for everything he has done for the BBC and delighted that he will now be going on to run another of the UK’s most valuable cultural institutions.”

Roly Keating was born in 1961. He graduated from Balliol College, Oxford in 1983 with a first class degree in Classics, and joined the BBC as a general trainee that year.

As a producer and director in Music and Arts, Mr. Keating made films for Omnibus, Bookmark and Arena. He was a founding producer and subsequent editor of the long-running arts and media magazine, The Late Show, and was also editor of the literary series Bookmark.

In 1997, Roly became Head of Programming for UKTV, overseeing the launch of the BBC’s joint venture channels. Two years later he was made BBC Controller of Digital Channels, with overall editorial responsibility for BBC Choice and BBC Knowledge. The following year he became Controller of Arts Commissioning, with responsibility for music and arts programming across BBC Television, before moving to BBC Four in December 2001.

As Controller of BBC Four, Roly led the launch of the channel in March 2002. From 2004 to 2008, Roly was Controller of BBC Two. Under his tenure he oversaw the launch of a raft of influential series, as well as memorable programs like Andrew Marr’s History of Modern Britain. BBC Two was named Broadcast Channel of the Year in 2007.

As Director of Archive Content, Roly acted as editorial leader for the BBC’s online services.

Roly Keating will take over from Dame Lynne Brindley, who will be leaving the Library on July 31, 2012 after 12 years as Chief Executive.