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As well as holding some of the world's most prized cultural treasures, the British Library is the repository of the nation's collective memory. Owing its origin to the generosity and far-sightedness of a handful of 18th-century scholars and booklovers, and built up over 250 years, the Library's very extensive collections--of books, manuscripts, maps, music, newspapers, photographs, sound recordings, stamps, and digital media--offer keys to the understanding of human achievement in literature, art, music, politics, journalism, exploration, and much else, from ancient times to the present day. In this highly illustrated book, Michael Leapman tells the Library's story, highlighting the most significant and beautiful items in its care, as well as exploring some of the lesser known, more surprising artifacts housed in its iconic building in the heart of London.