The London Library has long been a haven to writers, from Bram Stoker and Daphne Du Maurier to Sir Kazuo Ishiguro and Sarah Waters, and now as it prepares to celebrate its 180th anniversary from May this year, a new report looks at the creative and economic impact of the world’s largest independent lending library.

The London Library Impact Report produced by economic consultancy Nordicity and Chartered Accountants Saffrey Champness, shows that on an annual basis The London Library’s over 7200 individual members produce:

  • Approximately 700 published fiction or non-fiction books
  • over 15,000 articles
  • over 430 film scripts, TV screenplays, theatre scripts

In a recently conducted survey, the members who create these works attributed 33% of the creative process to their membership of the Library, benefitting from using the Library’s collection for research and inspiration or using desk space at the Library to write. Evaluating the economic impact this generates, report authors Nordicity have estimated that 460 full time jobs within the UK’s creative industries are being supported by the intellectual property creation enabled by the Library.

Philip Marshall, Director of The London Library comments: 

“The London Library has always been at the heart of the UK’s literary landscape, inspiring and supporting the creativity of its members. This research shows that the Library is the birthplace of a huge number of written works each year, not only benefitting our writers and their readers and audiences, but also the UK’s creative economy. As a charity, we are particularly delighted to be able to demonstrate such a significant cultural and economic impact.”

Some of the best-selling and admired contemporary books produced with the support of The London Library include:

The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus

Appeasing Hitler by Tim Bouverie

The Body by Bill Bryson

The Five by Hallie Rubenhold

The Muse by Jessie Burton

Old Baggage by Lissa Evans

Those Who Are Loved by Victoria Hislop

Escape Routes by Naomi Ishiguro

Clothes and Other Things that Matter by Alexandra Shulman

The Secret Lives of Colour by Kassia St Clair

These authors are among hundreds who find the Library indispensable in the production of their work. In writing The Body, for example, Bill Bryson commented: “All the library research I did was in this building. To be able to go off in lots of different directions – that for me is why this Library is so perfect. It’s got something of everything.”

Members have reported that The London Library’s lockdown response and the Library’s expanded postal loans service in particular has enabled them to keep working through the pandemic when all libraries have been forced to physically close.

And it’s not just books – The London Library plays a role, in the work of some of the UK’s leading writers for theatre, TV and film. Daisy Goodwin, writer of ITV’s Victoria commented: “To be honest I don’t think I could have written Victoria without The London Library.”  Deborah Davis, co-writer of the Bafta winning film The Favourite researched the film at the Library and Sir Tom Stoppard CBE, playwright and screenwriter says: “I have borrowed books from the Library every time I have written a play based on historical events and/or characters.”  

The number of short form articles produced also reflects the very active writing community at the core of the Library’s membership. Academics, journalists, commentators, reviewers are among the hundreds of members producing an estimated 15,000 articles of various types each year.

‘The Economic and Social Impact of The London Library’ reveals that through the support it provides its members for their IP creation, the Library generates an estimated annual value of £21.3m for the UK economy.  The Library is a charity and receives no public funding: its revenue is derived almost entirely from membership subscriptions and philanthropic donations and its £21.3m economic impact is equivalent to five times the Library’s annual operating expenditure.