Monday, November 24, 1997 Published at 03:46 GMT
British Library opens its doors
Project dogged by controversy and delays (British Library Board)
The new British Library is opening its doors to the public for the first time on Monday, almost 20 years after the project was first given the go-ahead.
It has 300 kilometres of underground shelving. The Humanities Reading Room, which opens today, is the first of 11 reading areas with 1,200 seats.
But the project has been dogged by controversy. It has cost more than £500m, three times the original estimate.
Its design, by the architect Colin St John Wilson, has been criticised by others, with Prince Charles once likening it to an academy for secret policemen.
Regular users have regretted the library's departure from the historic Round Reading Reading Room at the British Museum which closed last month.
Some are already warning about the high running costs of the new building.
The library says its Government grant is too small and it may have to introduce charges for readers, or buy fewer books.