Frequently Asked Questions

Membership
Can anyone join The London Library?

Yes. All prospective annual and life members need to provide details of a referee who could be contacted by the Library if required, but this is the only pre-requisite for membership.

Does the referee have to be a member of the Library?

No, it is not necessary to know someone who is already a member; the referee should simply be someone to whom the applicant is known personally (other than a family member living at the same address) whose position can be verified (e.g. a current member of the Library, an academic, a member of a professional association).

Is there a waiting list?

No; the Library welcomes all applications for membership.

Is it possible to visit the Library before joining?

Yes; prospective members are always welcome to come to look round the Library and see the facilities. Please ask at reception at any time that is convenient for you.

Why is there a membership fee?

The Library is an independent charity and is financed entirely from membership subscriptions, donations and the prudent management of its capital resources. It receives no government or statutory funding.

How can I apply for annual membership?

You can join via this website or request an application form from the Library. Applications will be submitted to the Librarian for authorisation and should be processed within one week.

Is there a shorter type of membership?

No. A limited numbers of Temporary Reference Tickets are available to individuals needing short-term access to Library materials not elsewhere readily accessible.

Can annual membership be taken out on the spot?

No; all applications for annual membership are submitted for authorisation by the Librarian. Once the application has been authorised and payment arranged, the applicant may start using the Library. Please allow up to a week for the application to be processed.

Is it possible to give someone membership of the Library?

Yes; the application must still include details of a referee, but the recipient can if necessary confirm their acceptance of the terms of membership on their first visit to the Library so that the gift can be a surprise.

Is there a student membership?

There is no membership related specifically to student status, but any applicant aged 16 to 24 may take out full membership of the Library at a special reduced rate. In addition, the London Library Trust offers Carlyle Membership to any members and prospective members aged over 24 who need to make use of the Library but for whom the full subscription would be a real barrier to membership. Assistance normally covers 30%, or in exceptional cases 60% of the annual subscription.

Is there a discount for people aged over 60?

No, but see the previous answer concerning Carlyle Membership.

How can I pay my subscription?

The subscription may be paid in annual, quarterly or monthly instalments and by a variety of payment methods. Please see the application forms for further details.

I am a member of the Library. Can I bring a visitor with me?

Members are welcome to introduce prospective members to the Library, or to bring a visitor for a short tour of the Library. For fire and security purposes all visitors must sign in at Reception and must remain with the member at all times.

Library Services and Facilities
How many books does the Library have?

There are approximately 1 million volumes in total in the Library's collection; all books and periodicals are housed on-site at 14 St James's Square.

What subjects does the Library cover?

The subject range is mainly within the humanities, and the collection is particularly strong in history, literature (including fiction), biography, art, philosophy, religion and related fields. Textbooks on technology, business, law and medicine are not within the Library's scope, although material on the history of all of these subjects is held.

Does the Library still acquire new books?

Yes; approximately 8,000 volumes are added to the Library each year across all of the subject areas of the collections (see above). Members are invited to make suggestions for books to be acquired by the Library.

Does the Library hold periodicals?

The Library maintains current subscriptions to approximately 850 periodicals and also holds extensive collections of nineteenth- and twentieth-century journals and magazines. Most back numbers of periodicals - excluding the most recent issues - are available for loan.

Is the Library's stock on open access?

The vast majority of the stock is on open shelves to which members have free access; a small number of rarer or more fragile items are available only on request.

Can books be borrowed?

Almost all Library materials may be borrowed.

How many books can be borrowed?

Personal members living in London are entitled to an initial basic allowance of 10 volumes on loan at any time; country members (ie those living more than 20 miles from the Library) are allowed 15 volumes. For small supplementary fees these allowances may be increased, in blocks of 5 volumes, to a total maximum of 40 volumes.

How long can books be borrowed for?

Books may be kept on loan for one month, or longer if not recalled by another member. After two months loans should be renewed (online or by email, telephone, letter or fax): it is not necessary to bring books to the Library in order to renew them.

Is there Internet access at the Library?

Yes; there are terminals in the Reading Rooms giving access to the Internet at no extra charge; wireless access is also available for those who have a laptop with wireless capability.

Are electronic publications available?

A growing range of subscription electronic reference works, databases and e-journal titles (including Jstor) are available both at the Library and to members using their computers at home.

Is it possible to consult the Library's catalogues online?

The catalogue of all materials acquired since 1950 is available for consultation via this website. Details of the older parts of the collection are constantly being added to the online catalogue. For full coverage of pre-1950 acquisitions it is necessary to consult also the printed catalogues in the Library. Copies of these are also available in the reference collections of many major public and academic libraries.

Can laptop computers be used at the Library?

Yes; there are three Reading Rooms where laptops can be used at all the desks, and there are tables in the bookstacks where laptops can also be used.

How accessible is the Library?

There is a level entrance into the Library from Mason's Yard and a platform lift may be used from that entrance to the Reception area. A wheelchair-accessible passenger lift transports members to most parts of the building, but some of the older historic parts are only reachable by stairs. Staff are happy to retrieve books for members on request and can do this ahead of your visit so that materials are ready for consultation as soon as you arrive. Accessible toilets are provided in the Basement of the building, and an induction loop is installed in the Issue Hall. If you have particular access-related queries please contact Reception who will be happy to help.

Are refreshments available at the Library?

There is a members' room on the 6th floor of the Library where members may eat their sandwiches; a coffee machine is provided.

Is there anywhere I can park my bike if I cycle to the Library?

A cycle shed is currently provided next to the Mason's Yard entrance. Please enquire at Reception for further details.

Further information

For further details or to arrange a tour, contact:

 

Membership Department

+44 (0)20 7766 4720

membership@londonlibrary.co.uk