PHILIP MARSHALL APPOINTED DIRECTOR OF THE LONDON LIBRARY

MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN, 5th July 2017

“We are pleased to announce that Philip Marshall has been appointed as the Library’s new Director and will take up the post in mid-September. His appointment follows Inez Lynn’s announcement last year that she would be retiring in September 2017 following a 30-year career at the Library, during which she has overseen the introduction of extensive online services, the development of the Library’s unique collection, and the award-winning transformation of many of its working spaces.

In embarking on the process of recruiting Inez’s successor, we decided to re-designate the role as the Director of the Library rather than the Librarian, as we focus on some of the issues – outlined in Inez’s recent letter to members – that we need to address to make the Library’s future more sustainable.  Members should rest assured that our commitment to maintaining the integrity of the collection, and the services to members, remains unchanged. The Library is fortunate to have great strength and depth of librarianship experience across its operations already so in recruiting the Director we looked for wide-ranging experience of developing membership, revenue and profile. Philip has experience in all of these areas and is ideally placed to help us strengthen the Library’s position as the world’s largest independent lending library.

Philip MarshallPhilip Marshall began his career as a solicitor, qualifying in 1996, and specialising in commercial law for the IT, media and publishing sectors. After completing an MBA at London Business School, he decided to leave the law for a career in the cultural sector, joining the British Museum in 2003. Over an 11 year period at the Museum, Philip’s roles included Head of Commercial and Director of International Engagement. He led the creation of a highly successful international programme of touring exhibitions and consultancy work, as well as overseeing substantial growth in the Museum’s membership programme and venue hire business. Philip left the Museum to become Director of Business Development at the Royal Albert Hall, where he was responsible for increasing income from both commercial and philanthropic sources. This included responsibility for the Hall’s catering and retail operations, commercial partnerships and development fundraising for the Hall’s £35m basement extension project. He joins us from his current position as Director of Development at Sadler’s Wells.

Philip is able to take over in September, immediately following Inez's departure, and will be spending time in the Library with Inez and her team over the summer to deepen his understanding of the Library and its ways.

We look forward to welcoming him on board.”

 

 

THE SPEECH THAT GAVE BIRTH TO THE LONDON LIBRARY

By 1840, Thomas Carlyle was actively pursuing the idea of establishing a lending library in London. Disliking the disruptions of the British Museum’s Reading Room, and stung by the fact that other cities in Britain, including Manchester and Liverpool, had established lending libraries, Carlyle was determined to make up the deficit in London and establish a subscription lending library in the capital. A Committee had been formed and initial subscriptions had been arranged.

To launch his idea publicly and begin a wider subscription drive, Carlyle organised a public meeting on Wednesday 24th June 1840 at the Freemasons’ Tavern in London’s Great Queen Street. Presided over by Lord Eliot, the meeting included speeches by Lord Monteagle, Rev H.H. Milman, Lord Lyttelton, Charles Buller, RM Milnes, George Cornewall Lewis and William Christie.

But the floor belonged to Thomas Carlyle who delivered the following - the speech that effectively launched The London Library.

“It does not become us, who are as yet only struggling for existence, who are merely nascent, and have nothing but hopes and a good purpose, to commence by casting any censure on the British Museum. Accordingly we mean no censure by this resolution. We will leave the British Museum standing on its own basis, and be very thankful that such a Library exists in this country. But supposing it to be managed with the most perfect skill and success, even according to the ideal of such an Institution, still I will assert that this other Library of ours is requisite also.

In the first place by the very nature of the thing, a great quantity of people are excluded altogether from the British Museum as a reading room. Every man engaged in business is occupied during the hours it is kept open; and innumerable classes of persons find it extremely inconvenient to attend the British Museum Library at all.

But granting that they could all go there, I would ask any literary man, any reader of books, any man intimately acquainted with the reading of books, whether he can read them to any purposes in the British Museum? A book is a kind of thing that requires a man to be self-collected. He must be alone with it. A good book is the purest essence of the human soul. How could a man take it into a crowd, with bustle of all sorts going on around him? The good of a book is not the facts that can be got out of it, but the kind of resonance that it awakens in our own minds. A book may strike out of us a thousand things, may make us know a thousand things which it does not know itself. For this purpose I decidedly say, that no man can read a book well, with the bustle of three or four hundred people around him. Even for getting the mere facts which a book contains, a man can do more with it in his own apartment in the solitude of one night, than in a week in such a place as the British Museum.

Neither with regard to circulating libraries are we bound to utter any kind of censure; circulating libraries are what they can be in the circumstances. I believe that if a man had the heroism to collect a body of great books, to get together the cream of the knowledge that exists in the world, and let it be known that he had such a Library, he would find his advantage in it in the long run; but it would be only in the long run; he must wait ten or twenty years, perhaps a lifetime; he must be a kind of martyr. You could not expect a purveyor of Circulating Literature to be that! The question for such a person to ask is not: “Are you wanting to read a wise book?” but “Have you got sixpence in your pocket to pay for the reading of any book?” Consequently he must have an eye to the prurient appetite of the great million, and furnish them with any kind of garbage they will have. The result is melancholy – making bad worse - for every bad book begets an appetite for reading a worse one.

Thus we come to the age of pinchbeck in Literature, and to falsehoods of all kinds. So leaving all other institutions, the British Museum, and the Circulating Libraries, to stand, I say that a decidedly good Library of good books is a crying want in this great London. How can I be called upon to demonstrate a thing that is as clear as the sun? London has more men and intellect waiting to be developed than any place in the world ever had assembled. Yet there is no place on the civilised earth so ill supplied with materials for reading for those who are not rich. I have read an account of a Public Library in Iceland, which the King of Denmark founded there. There is not a peasant in Iceland that cannot bring home books to his hut, better than men can in London. Positively it is a kind of disgrace to us, which we ought to assemble and put an end to with all convenient despatch.

The founding of a Library is one of the greatest things we can do with regard to results. It is one of the quietest of things; but there is nothing that I know of at bottom more important. Every one able to read a good book becomes a wiser man. He becomes a similar centre of light and order, and just insight into the things around him. A collection of good books contains all the nobleness and wisdom of the world before us. Every heroic and victorious soul has left his stamp upon it. A collection of books is the best of all Universities; for the University only teaches us how to read the book: you must go to the book itself for what it is. I call it a Church also – which every devout soul may enter – a Church but with no quarrelling, no Church-rates, …”

“The remainder of the sentence”, says the reporter of the Examiner who covered the meeting, “was drowned in cheers and laughter, in the midst of which Mr Carlyle sat down”.

The Times newspaper reported on the meeting, declaring that "The realization of this scheme will be a great benefit to literature, and an effectual help to the acquisition of knowledge among all classes in the metropolis"

LONDON LIBRARY MEMBERSHIP OFFER

Writers room12 months' membership for the price of 11

For 176 years, The London Library has provided a haven for those wishing to write, read and research. With four beautiful reading rooms, plus many desks nestled amongst the book stacks around the building, The London Library is the perfect place in which to be inspired and put pen to paper.

We’re delighted to offer a special membership offer of one month's free membership - a saving of £43.75 on an annual London Library membership.

Membership benefits include:

  • Four attractive reading rooms or a choice of individual study spaces
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Extended opening hours until 8pm three days a week, plus Saturday opening
  • More than one million books to browse, borrow and enjoy at leisure
  • Extensive journal and periodical subscriptions from Modern Language Review to The New Yorker
  • A wealth of online resources from academic journals (including access to JSTOR) to Who's Who online
  • Extremely generous loan periods and no fines
  • Postal loans service anywhere within the UK and Europe
  • Advance ordering of books for collection or posting online or by phone, fax or email
  • Quarterly members' magazine
  • Member offers & discounts at a range of organisations

To take advantage of this offer, please click here to join online.

(This offer applies to full price annual membership at the special promotional rate of 11 monthly payments of £43.75 or £481.25 one off payment. The offer is not available to current or previous members of the Library).

 

Welcome to The London Library

Welcome to The London Library and thank you for joining our community of readers, writers and thinkers. We hope that you will be inspired by everything you find here. The following information is for new members but may also be of use to anyone using the Library.  

The Library is currently closed but we are expecting to be able to reopen on 12 April. Please ensure you check our website and newsletters to keep up-to-date with any changes.

Membership number and sign-in information 

In order to access the full range of electronic resources and catalogue features for example eJournals and eBooks, you will first need to sign-up to the single sign-on service. To complete the process, you will need your 5-digit membership number and the email address you registered with the Library. Please follow the instructions here to sign-up for the first time.

Once you have completed the process, you will use your email address and an 8-character (minimum) password of your choice to sign-in on subsequent occasions.  Your membership number should have been sent to you in an email when you joined but should you need a reminder, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you have any problems with the sign-up process, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Your membership card

Full and Associate members will receive a membership card and information on how to use the Library on their first visit to the Library. Please bring your card with you whenever you visit as you will need it to gain access to the building, borrow books and make use of other facilities. Please bring two forms of identification with you on your first visit – one including a photo (e.g. passport, driving licence, travel card, student card, ID card) and one including confirmation of your current address (e.g. driving licence, recent bank statement or utility bill).

Your card remains valid for the duration of your membership. If your card is lost or stolen, please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

We are currently unable to offer face-to-face inductions for new members but our Member Services team are more than happy to answer any questions that you have via phone or email. Contact them on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Inside the Library

If you'd like to view some of our collection and our reading and writing spaces before you visit, take a look at our 3D tour below. Alternatively use the button below to view it full screen.

VIEW INSIDE

Borrowing Books

Search the online catalogue (Catalyst) and select items for collection at the Library or by post. Or book a day pass to browse the stacks and take out items at the issue desk.

You can also borrow by email by requesting items at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can find detailed information on searching the catalogue, browsing and borrowing on our dedicated website page.

Returning books

You can post books back to us either to our Mason's Yard address (20 Mason's Yard, London SW1Y 6BU) or when we are closed through the letterbox at our St James's Square entrance.

Postal loans

To borrow a book by post follow the instructions above on borrowing and in the ‘notification method’ select ‘send the book’.

Materials can be posted to members worldwide, usually the cost of postage is payable but we have currently waived these charges if you have a UK address. If you need to update the address that we post to, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Borrowing entitlements

Members have an allowance of 10 or 15 volumes on loan at any time (the higher allowance for Full members who live more than 20 miles from the Library). This can be increased, to a maximum of 40, for a fee. Due to the coronavirus measures, all Library members have had their book allowance increased by 5. To increase your allowance further please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone us on 020 7766 4720.

Loan periods

Most books can be kept for at least one month initially and then renewed as needed unless requested by another member. New books are available to borrow for 14 days; they may be renewed if not requested by another member.

There are no overdue fines but we do ask that loans are kept up-to-date and that books are returned to the Library for renewal every year. All members are liable for the full cost of replacing any books not returned or renewed on request, that are outstanding at the end of membership or if they are significantly damaged.

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Visiting The Library

Members currently need to book to visit the library, please read all of the information on our reopening pages before your visit. 

Opening times

The Library is currently closed.

When we re-open our opening hours are:

  • Monday-Tuesday: 10am-9pm
  • Wednesday-Friday: 10am-5.30pm
  • Saturday: 9.30am-5.30pm

Full members may book to use the spaces at any time, Associate members can book day passes after 5pm weekdays and all day Saturday, Remote Access members can reserve book collection/drop off slots.

We have bike storage at the back of the Library in Mason’s Yard, if you would like to use this please let us know in advance on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as we will need to create your membership card with special access to the bike shed in advance of your visit.

Reading rooms and desks

The Library has 3 reading rooms on the 1st floor above the Issue Hall, a lightwell reading room on the lower ground floor and non-quiet reading rooms in the 6th Floor Suite. There are also a number of individual desks located around the stacks.

The Sackler Study is a quiet, laptop-free space and laptops are currently allowed in the main Reading Room due to reduced seating capacity across the main reading rooms.

In total, 84 desks are currently available - desks and chairs are spaced in accordance with the social distancing policy being applied throughout the Library. Additional cleaning services are in operation.

View a floorplan of the building.

Browsing the stacks and the classification system

Members with a day pass are free to browse our 17 miles of bookstacks. The Library uses its own classification system which maximises the potential for browsing specific subject areas. Books are arranged alphabetically by subject and then by author. Library staff at the Issue Desk are always on hand to help members find materials and you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for assistance.

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Library Services

Enquires and references

Staff are on hand to help with member enquiries, bibliographic checking and subject searching. Where enquiries fall outside the scope of the collections, staff will identify appropriate alternative libraries and collections. For assistance please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The collection and closed access areas

Members have access to all of our collections but those in closed access areas (4% of the collection) need to be requested in advance. Some of this material can be borrowed but some will need to be accessed on site. Currently these sessions will need to be arranged at least 24 hours in advance by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and can be offered Monday-Friday between 10am-5pm.

Using our online catalogue -  Catalyst

Access Catalyst from anywhere via the ‘Search the Catalogue’ link on the Library’s website. The online catalogue provides access to almost all of the physical collection and all of our digital resources. You will find a short video explaining how to use Catalyst on the catalogue’s homepage.

In order to access the full range of electronic resources and catalogue features for example eJournals and eBooks, you will first need to sign-up to the single sign-on service. To complete the process, you will need your 5-digit membership number and the email address you registered with the Library. Please follow the instructions here to sign-up for the first time.

Once you have completed the process, you will use your email address and an 8-character (minimum) password of your choice to sign-in on subsequent occasions.  Your membership number should have been sent to you in an email when you joined but should you need a reminder, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  

If you have any problems with the sign-up process, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You will find a short video explaining how to use Catalyst on the catalogue’s homepage.

Collection guides

Printed guides to some individual areas of the collection can be downloaded from our website.

Book Suggestions

Members can suggest books to be acquired for the Library collection by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Inter-Library loans

The Library participates in the Inter-Library loan scheme - requesting materials from other national and international libraries. If we do not hold something you need we may be able to borrow it on your behalf. Please note there is currently disruption to this service due to Coronavirus.

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Online Resources

Members can access the Library’s extensive range of online resources in the Library and at home. Find information about our online resources here.

eJournals and databases

All of the eJournals and databases the Library subscribes to can be found by title on Catalyst, in addition to other open-access holdings.

Periodicals

The Library subscribes to over 300 online newspapers, magazines and journals as well as providing access to thousands more through services such as JSTOR. Many of these can be accessed via Catalyst and the full range can be found on the Library’s eJournals page.

Books and journals

Some of the Library’s books and journals are not currently listed in the online catalogue. Titles are constantly being updated and staff are always able to assist if you are unable to find what you are looking for, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for assistance. 

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Using the Library

Entering and leaving the building and the Issue Hall

We are operating a one way in/out system - please enter via St James’s Square and leave via Mason’s Yard. Mason’s Yard will no longer be an entrance route. Members requiring level access to the buildings should use the T. S. Eliot House entrance on Mason’s Yard (opposite the White Cube gallery).

To support social distancing three separate lanes have been installed in the Issue Hall.

-The Issue Desk lane is for members to collect pre-ordered books and use other Issue desk services such as book enquiries.

-A Fast Lane provides direct access into the rest of Library for members wanting to access the book stacks or desks. Members will need to give their name to Reception before entering this lane.

-The Exit Lane is for anyone leaving the building and leads to the exit via the Mason’s Yard door.

Food, drink and phones

The 6th floor members kitchen is currently closed. Water in a screw-top bottle can be consumed around the Library and you may eat in the study areas on the 6th floor but members should try to plan to leave the building to consume food. Phone, Skype and similar calls are only permitted in the 6th Floor Suite, one booth is available to book. 

Bags

We are not currently using the lockers in Reception, coat cupboards are available for members to leave bags at their own risk, alternatively members can currently take their bags into the Library spaces.

WiFi and computer use

Free WiFi is located around the Library and can be accessed using your sign-in details. (See Membership number and sign-in information) if you are signing-in for the first time. Laptops can currently be used anywhere other than the Sackler Study - plug sockets are found at most desks. Desktop computers are not currently available.  Members can print to the printers in the Writers' Room and the Times Room but we are currently unable to offer other reprographic services (photocopying, scanning) or IT support.

Fire

In the event of a fire alarm please follow the signs to the nearest exit and evacuate immediately or wait at the nearest refuge point and use the call button to alert staff.

Access requirements

Members with access requirements may contact Reception at any time on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out how we can meet their needs. This includes level access to the building, lifts to many of the Library’s spaces, accessible toilets, and screen readers.