Can anyone join The London Library?

Yes and we no longer require details of a referee.

Is there a waiting list?

No; the Library welcomes all applications for membership.

Is it possible to visit the Library before joining?

We apologise but we are currently unable to offer Prospective Member Tours.

Please preview our online cataloguing system Catalyst and e-library to search the Library’s collection and see what’s on offer on our extensive range of electronic resources.

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 online or request an application form from the Library. Applications will be submitted for authorisation and should be processed within one week.

Is there a shorter type of membership?

A limited numbers of Temporary Reference Tickets are available to individuals needing short-term access to Library materials not elsewhere readily accessible. Please see Daily and Weekly tickets on the join page for further information.

Can annual membership be taken out on the spot?

No; all applications for annual membership are submitted for authorisation by the Library. 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; Gift membership is available throughout the year.

Is there a student membership?

There is no membership related specifically to student status, but any applicant aged 16 to 29 may take out full membership of the Library at a special reduced rate. In addition, the London Library Trust offers Supported membership to any members and prospective members aged over 29 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 Supported 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.


About 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 650 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, or letter): it is not necessary to bring books to the Library in order to renew them. New books (acquired in the last four months) may be kept for two weeks.

Is there Wi-Fi at the Library?

Yes; there is free Wi-Fi across the Library.

Are electronic publications available?

A growing range of subscription electronic reference works, databases and e-journal titles, 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 (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) who will be happy to help.

Are refreshments available at the Library?

The 6th Floor Members' suite is available for members to eat food they bring in and a coffee machine is provided.

Can I make phone calls?

While most of the Library is a silent zone where phone calls are not permitted, the 6th Floor Members' suite is an area where members can make calls and hold conversations. For heavy phone/Skype use, a special booth is provided where members can make calls without disturbing others.

Are there any meeting rooms?

The Annex on the 6th floor can be booked for meetings.

Does the Library hold evening events?

Yes. we have an active programme of talks and events with paid-for talks for members and non-members in the Reading Room and regular free events in the 6th floors members' suite. See our event page.

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.