New library at BFI Southbank
The first curious visitors poked their heads around the just-opened doors of the state-of-the-art new BFI library this morning.
Nestled within the old gallery space at BFI Southbank, the library provides a haven of calm amid the hubbub of riverside cultural life – perfect for leafing through a book on your favourite director, or catching up with the latest editions of the best international film magazines.
Though the relocated library doesn’t have its ‘official’ launch until September, from today film lovers can take advantage of free access to one of the world’s biggest collections of film books and journals – 30% more of which is now available on open shelves.
The new space is perfectly suited to both casual browsers and dedicated researchers. For those who wish to while away some time with a book that takes their fancy, there are comfy ergonomic red chairs and tables. Hitchcock fans are especially well catered for at the moment. Ahead of the BFI’s Genius of Hitchcock Cultural Olympiad programme of events and screenings this summer, the library’s sizeable collection of tomes on the Master of Suspense are all on display for easy browsing.
Elsewhere a quiet desk area – where Pixar-style white angle lamps cut a suitably filmic figure – caters for students and researchers who need to get their heads down. Look up and they’ll see intriguing ‘iron curtains’ hanging from the ceiling – these act as acoustic mufflers, minimising noise for the section of the reading room where concentration is key.
The Hitchcock collection is also first up in an ambitious project to digitise the BFI’s vast resource of historical press cuttings on films and personalities. By official launch it is hoped the balance will be available to view as fully searchable scanned images.
Including brand new Saturday opening, the library is open five days a week to the later time of 7pm – after which the immediate proximity of BFI Southbank’s nightly screenings may prove a temptation to researchers.
Photography: Helena Smith