Our founder, William Ewart Gladstone, devoted so much of his life, time and money to books. He owned around 32,000 of them and read in five different languages, on nearly every subject you could think of.
In all Gladstone left the equivalent of about £8,000,000 in today's money for the building and maintenance of his library - a building he would never see and never get to use.
But to read Gladstone's thoughts on books, it's easy to see why. This quote is from Gladstone's 'On Books and the Housing of Them', an early blueprint and almost manifesto for the library we know today.
'Books are the voices of the dead. They are a main instrument of communion with the vast human procession of the other world. They are the allies of the thought of man. They are in a certain sense in enmity with the world. Their work is, at least, in the two higher compartments of our threefold life. In a room well filled with them, no one has felt or can feel solitary.'
This quote was dug out by our Director of Collections and Research Louisa Yates for her talk on the History of the Reading Rooms. Anybody who missed it can find the recorded version on our SoundCloud here http://ow.ly/DzS030j34Gt