May 26, 2022

Library Architecture: British Library Building Receives Highest Listed Status

From the from Department for Culture, Media and Sport (UK):

The British Library has been listed Grade I by Heritage Minister, Tracey Crouch on the advice of Historic England and joins the top 2.5% of listed buildings in England.

Originally designed by architect Sir Colin St John Wilson and his partner MJ Long between 1982 and 1999, it was the largest UK public building to be built in the 20th century. Intended to move and inspire its visitors, today the British Library is much-loved and well-used by scholars and members of the public alike for its soaring and stimulating spaces.

With its 5 public floors sweeping upwards like a wave, the architecture is both immense and extraordinary. Surrounded on both sides by 11 Reading Rooms, the Library’s centrepiece is the magnificent King’s Library tower, home to the library of George III as well as the Treasures Gallery that hold national Treasures such as Magna Carta, Lindisfarne Gospels and original Beatles lyrics.

The building holds a prominent location on London’s Euston Road and shaped the emerging character of the surrounding area of north-central London as a place of collaborative research and study – referred to now as the Knowledge Quarter*.


Chief Executive of the British Library, Roly Keating, said:

“We are delighted that Colin St John Wilson’s courageous and visionary design for the British Library’s London building has been recognised by a listing at the highest level. Even in the relatively short period since its opening it has worked its way into the affections of millions of visitors and researchers, who have discovered its beautiful spaces, subtle use of natural light and exquisite detailing.

“It is also a privilege to be listed alongside a group of distinguished public library buildings from across the country. As well as celebrating architectural excellence, this listing is a reminder, in the midst of the digital age, of the vital importance of libraries as physical spaces of the highest quality at the heart of their communities.”

Read the Complete Announcement, Learn About the Seven Other Libraries Receiving Grade II Status

See Also: Learn More About Listed Buildings in the UK (via Wikipedia)

See Also: Database of Listed Buildings in England (via Historic England)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.