This World Book Day, we’re celebrating coffee and books by highlighting our relationship with the British Library
OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH THE LIBRARY
When it comes to relationships, each one we build and nurture is done with respect to the future as much as the past. It’s not just about relationships with people, but with places, moments, coffee, and education. For us, books and coffee are synonymous, key players in global culture. Since 2016, we’ve been proud to call The British Library home with not one, but two locations in the iconic Grade I listed space. We caught up with our General Manager, Claire Mosser, at the library, to discuss our symbiotic relationship with the space, as well as looking back on the history of its inception.
BRITISH LIBRARY HISTORY
2023 marks 50 years of the British Library as the national library of the UK. Built on the site of the old rail goods yard in St Pancras, London, today the library is the world’s most comprehensive research collection, home to 170 million items, including artefacts from every age of written civilisation. An incredible 1.6 million visitors walk through the library’s iconic bronze-cast gates every year. The British Library came into existence in 1973 with the British Library Act.
The Act was founded on parliament’s vision for a single institution at the heart of the UK’s information network, which would aid scientific and technological research, business, the arts, and humanities. To do this, numerous organisations, including The British Museum Library, The National Central Library, and the Sound Archive (previous known as the British Institute of Recorded Sound), were brought together. Over ten million bricks were used to construct the library, making it the largest public building in the UK constructed in the 20th century. The British Library opened to the public in November 1997, with an official inauguration by the HM Queen Elizabeth II the following June.
A COFFEE WITH CLAIRE
Claire Mosser joined Origin in 2019. Her enthusiasm for books and coffee marrying her to the Library and Origin perfectly.
“I come from a family of readers,” Claire said. “I grew up with books in every room, and today my reading taste covers everything from graphic novels to educational papers—nothing is off limits. The only thing that shapes my reading – not only the topic, but the language I read in – is my mood. When I need a mental break, I read in French; there’s something about returning to my native language that provides peace and clears my mind.”
Claire finds her relationship with coffee to be the same, noting the importance of self-care and ritual—something long associated with brews and books. “I can only have a coffee if I’m in the right place mentally and emotionally. Coffee to me is an enjoyable experience: it’s comfort, like a blanket for your soul. It’s social and intimate at once. For me, one of the most content places I can find myself and cherish, is in a comfy chair, with the sound of a turning page, the weight of a book, combined with the warmth and smell of coffee.”
Books and coffee provide sanctuary, but working at both our sites within the library, Claire sees just how much both can open doors, too, offering insight and education. “The Entrance Hall might just be the loudest library I’ve ever been in,” Claire joked. “It’s fast-paced and vibrant, always buzzing with the energy of people from all around the world, gathered in one place—it’s incredible how reading and coffee bring people together. It’s here that it sometimes feels like we’re fuelling minds, providing that moment of escapism for people—head up and breathe—before diving back into a world of learning.”
Over at the Euston Road spot within the library, Claire notes a different pace, where the customer’s learning experience shifts from pages to pours. “There’s a real cosy charm about this area of the library and our place in it. And we have a great community of customers. The space is a place for work; for lunch breaks; a commute-stop. People come here, seeking out an experience; they’re curious about coffee, and want to learn.
Whether you come to the library for reading, brew recipes, or respite, the experience is nothing short of extraordinary. “This is an environment of challenges and opportunities in a great way,” Claire said. “The history and knowledge compacted within this institution is mind-blowing. I get to work with a wide variety of people who inspire and help me grow as a person and professional. The complexity and intricacy of the place means that every day is truly unique.”
As The British Library continues with its aim to become the most open, creative, and innovative institution of its kind in the world, it’s an inclusive, fully immersive future we’re delighted to play a part in.
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