About Us

With more than one million books and periodicals in over 50 languages, the collection includes works from the 16th century to the latest publications in print and electronic form.


2016 is a momentous year for The London Library, marking 175 years since it first opened its doors in 1841.

In recognition of this milestone we have launched a special appeal, to enable Library supporters to mark the anniversary and raise funds to help develop our most fundamental activities.

For 175 years the Library has supported reading, writing and research and has built up a unique collection of over 1 million books which can almost all be borrowed. It has done this as an entirely independent institution, funded by membership fees and donations. Membership fees enable us to the meet the Library’s operating costs but we rely on additional donations to fund vital work in developing our collection, our building and the services we are able to offer.

The 175 Appeal is designed to help the Library ensure that our resources can be used to their fullest. Donations will help the Library:

  • Develop its collection through acquisition of new books, ensuring we can offer the best of the new titles that appear each year
  • Conserve the collection and ensure that our books – many of which are centuries old – can be kept in usable and borrowable condition
  • Ensure that our collection is effectively catalogued and accessible through Catalyst, our on-line catalogue and discovery tool
  • Facilitate wider access to our collection – for example through lending books via the Inter Library Loan scheme or enabling access to those who otherwise could not afford it.

Philip Spedding, Development Director at The London Library commented, “Our 175th anniversary is a great time to celebrate what the Library has achieved over the last 175 years. But it is also an important time to focus on the future development of our collection and the services we provide. We hope that through The 175 Appeal and the fantastic support we receive from countless individuals and organisations that we can raise vital funds to enable the Library to continue enhancing its collection and the unique role it plays. All of which, we think, would meet with the wholehearted approval of our founder, the great Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle”.


Bill Bryson


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