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British Museum Reading Room

The British Museum Reading Room, situated in the centre of the Great Court of the British Museum, used to be the main reading room of the British Library. This function has now been moved to the new British Library building, but the Reading Room remains in its original form.

The Reading Room was in continual use from 1857 until its closure in 1997. Access was restricted to registered researchers only. However, reader's credentials were generally available to anyone who could show that they were a serious researcher. The facilities of the Reading Room for serious scholars are now available at the new British Library building near Kings Cross station.

The Reading Room was used by a large number of famous figures, including notably Karl Marx, Oscar Wilde, Gandhi, Rudyard Kipling and Lenin.

Following the move to the new site, the old Reading Room was opened to the public in 2000.

Much of the action of David Lodge's 1965 novel The British Museum Is Falling Down takes place in the old Reading Room.

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