Over 97% of the collections, which now number a million volumes, is available for loan, and is stored on 17 miles of open-access shelves, which may be freely browsed.



The London Library’s Retrospective Cataloguing Project was set up in 1999 with the aim to transfer details of the Library’s entire holdings to the online catalogue.

Progress so far: About 76% of the ca. 735,000 titles and 70% of the ca. 1,060,000 volumes in our collections can now be found on the online catalogue.

During the first phase of the project, from 1999 to 2006, the card catalogue containing details of all the publications acquired by the Library between 1950 and 1984 was transferred to the online catalogue.

Now in its second phase, the project is tackling the conversion of the printed catalogue, which lists twelve decades' worth of Library acquisitions from its foundation in 1841 to 1950. So far - as at 2017 - around 47% of the titles (and 42% of the volumes) listed in the printed catalogue are fully catalogued.

Progress by subject: click here to download a list of shelfmarks already converted and those currently being worked on.

Estimated completion date: The scale of the project is enormous and as every book has to be retrieved and inspected during the retrospective cataloguing process the work is very labour intensive.

Help us accelerate the project: You can support the project either by making a general donation or by contributing to the cataloguing of a specific collection of books.

If you have an interest in a particular author or subject, we can estimate the time and expense required to catalogue all the relevant books. For example:

  • all titles by and about Goethe would cost £1,700 and take 18 days
  • all titles on the nature of genius would cost £112 and take 1 day
  • all titles on architecture would cost £2,250 and take 25 days

For more information about making a donation please contact the Development team on 020 7766 4719 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


John O'Farrell


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