The Victoria and Albert Art Library was founded in 1837, before the museum was even opened. In 1850 the museum officially opened and the art library moved in. The art library is unique in that it not only collects books, but all mediums associated with art. Objects that can be found here include glass, textiles, ceramics, paintings and drawings. The library does not function as a lending library and it is not open to the public, but it is fairly easy to get a membership. There is an extensive periodicals section with over 8,000 titles, of the 8,000, 2,000 are current.
The art library has an interesting way of cataloguing their books. They are mostly organized by size because the library has a fairly large budget and is constantly taking in new materials. The library is home to over 3,000 artist books. We were able to view one of these books. It was made entirely from rabbit fur. The artist was making a statement on how we as humans kill animals for things other than food. We were also able to see some of the Vogue magazine collection, which is one of the libraries larger periodicals collections.
On out tour of the library, we were able to see some impressive pieces in their collection. The library is home to some of da Vinci’s originally manuscripts. We were able to see a copy of original, as the actual original is too fragile for viewings. But, we were able to see an original Dickens’s manuscript. The library houses 11 of Dickens’s original 14 manuscripts. They were left to the library by a friend of Dickens named John Forster. Forster, left the library over 18,000 items. It may seem odd that an art library collects things like this, but they are interested in the history of books and it’s not like they could really turn down something like and original Dickens manuscript.