Library Fund LED

Launched last week, the 2021/22 Library Fund appeal is raising funds to replace lighting in the Library’s bookstacks. A new system, based on LED fittings and passive infrared sensors, will cut the Library’s total electricity use by 20% – a big step towards a financially and environmentally sustainable future – while making the stacks more welcoming and usable and protecting the book collection from environmental damage.

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The success of the 2019/20 Library Fund appeal has enabled the much-needed refurbishment of the mens’ and ladies’ toilets on the Red Stairs to become reality and we are pleased to announce that work is about to start on this important project. Once complete it will significantly improve the facilities for members.

Initial work will need to take place next week before the main refurbishment can begin in earnest, and shortly we expect to erect scaffolding and other layers of protection across the Lightwell roof and will also disconnect the toilets themselves. At some stage over the next fortnight, therefore, the Lightwell reading room will be closed for a few days and the Red Stairs toilets will then remain closed for approximately two months until the refurbishment is complete – alternative toilets in TS Eliot House and in the basement adjacent to the Lightwell will remain open throughout and will be clearly signposted.

Inevitably, some of the refurbishment will be noisy, especially in its main stages in November where drilling and stripping out of worn out fittings is required. To mitigate this we will be looking to carry out as much of the most disruptive work before 10am where we can, but around the Red Stairs there may be periods of higher levels of daytime noise than usual. During the works, protective coverings will be in place in parts of the Red Stairs and at times it may be necessary to restrict access to the Reading Room to the entrance next to the Writers Room only.

We expect refurbishment and decoration to be completed by mid-December and will be updating members over coming weeks on the project’s progress and the stages of work involved. In the meantime we’d like to thank our members for their generosity in supporting the Appeal that has enabled this project to take place and that will transform an important part of the building. The work will involve short term disruption over the next couple of months but we are confident that the end result will be well worth it!

Updated On-site Arrangements

Thank you to everyone who responded to the recent survey about our Covid measures. We received nearly 800 responses, and gained a very helpful insight into members’ preferences regarding their experience in the Library. It was particularly striking that 81% of you have felt safe in studying here during the pandemic. Overall, amongst the membership there is a 60:40 split respectively between those who prefer to work without a mask, and those with. As we look to increasing capacity to accommodate the usual rise in occupancy during the Autumn, the survey feedback told us clearly that those who prefer to study in areas where masks are optional are also generally comfortable to see capacity in these areas increased.

Therefore, and also through consultation with staff, from Monday 4th October we will restore the Reading Room, the Sackler Study and the 6th Floor Members’ area to normal, pre-pandemic seating levels, including the return of all of the armchairs to the Reading Room – something much requested in the survey feedback. These steps will increase capacity in the Library by over 37 seats. The Reading Room will remain as an area for laptop use while we continue to operate with lower capacity. We understand that a silent, laptop-free space is important to members and hope to restore it as soon as capacity allows.

Please continue to wear a mask on arrival at the Library and when moving around the building and in the stack areas, for the comfort and safety of other members and staff. Thank you for working with us on these matters, and for engaging so helpfully with us through the survey.


Events at The London Library are back! And we can’t wait to fill the Reading Room again with discussion, music, poetry and chat.  

We’ll be welcoming a brilliant array of writers, artists – and audiences – through our doors for a programme as eclectic as our collection – art, fiction, biography, history, politics and more: from revolutionary women artists to ground-breaking fiction; the dramatic history of libraries to the spectacular life of spectacles; the beginnings of the Cold War to the current crisis; and poets in abundance, with Lemn Sissay kicking off the programme and Inua Ellams bringing the hip-hop joy with his legendary R.A.P. (Rhythm and Poetry) Party.  

And fear not, if you got used to getting your live literature fix from the comfort of home, most events will be livestreamed and some are still online only. All in-person events will follow up-to-date government COVID recommendations and capacity will be limited.

You can buy tickets and find more information here. If you have any queries feel free to get in touch with us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  

We look forward to seeing you at the Library! 

Book Tickets