Introduction to the CollectionsIntroduction to the Collections

Amassed over many generations, the collections now include approximately one million volumes, all housed on one site. It is a central tenet of the Library that, as books are never entirely superseded, and therefore never redundant, the collections should not be weeded of material merely because it is old, idiosyncratic or unfashionable: except in the case of occasional duplicate volumes, almost nothing has ever been discarded from our shelves.

With books dating from the 16th to the 21st century, we have throughout our history 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.

You can download a complete list of shelfmarks here

You can download a map of The London Library here

For further information about our Retrospective Cataloguing Project click here