The London Library was founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle. His founding vision was for an institution which would allow subscribers to enjoy the riches of a national library in their own homes. Over the past 170 years, The London Library’s collection has grown to more than one million volumes, stored on 15 miles of open access shelves which may be freely browsed. 97% of the collections are available for loan.
With books dating from the 16th to the 21st century, including the very latest print and digital resources, the Library has always sought to acquire all of the standard and authoritative works of each generation. Approximately 8,000 new titles are added to the collections every year, requiring the Library to find a further half-a-mile of shelving every three years.
Highlights of the Collection:
- Remarkably extensive collections in History and Biography, and a fascinating range of works on Topography, travel and exploration.
- The Literature and Fiction sections include a huge range of novels, poetry, plays, essays, literary criticism and causeries.
- The Art Room houses a substantial collection on the visual arts and architecture – a collection which is growing at a rate of 68 feet of extra book-shelf a year.
- A wealth of scientific material for the specialist and the general reader, as well as fine coverage of the history of science, the social sciences and philosophy.
- The Religion collection houses an exceptional range of theological texts and studies in comparative religion.
- Books in over 50 languages, with particular riches in the French, German, Italian, Spanish and Russian collections.
With over 7000 current members, the Library has enjoyed the patronage of many eminent writers, academics, politicians and readers throughout its history and has long played a central role in the intellectual life of the nation. Past and present members include Charles Darwin, George Eliot, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot, Bruce Chatwin, Sebastian Faulks, Jeremy Paxman, Antonia Fraser and current president Sir Tom Stoppard. Membership of The London Library is open to all.
To browse, or limit your search to, the holdings of The London Library, go to the main search tab on copac.ac.uk/search and choose ‘London Library’ from the drop-down list of libraries.