An excellent piece about the London Library by Tom Stoppard (link via The Literary Saloon). Very enviable. I agree about the usefulness of taking books home, though I love the British Library as well. And all other libraries: most particularly, the Columbia Library and the whole BorrowDirect phenomenon, which lets me request books to arrive within the next few days from a consortium that includes Yale, Penn, Dartmouth, Princeton and a number of others.
My grandfather bought a lifetime membership in the London Library (I'm sort of making up the details here, I didn't write it down at the time) in the early 50s for fifty pounds (a lot of money then, but a remarkable bargain in the long haul). And my grandparents were rather economical folks; when he sort of stopped using it in the mid-1990s as he hit his 80s my grandmother was vexed thinking about whether it could be converted into a lifetime membership for me. Which was very sweet but impractical.