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?

Yes! We offer 15-minute Prospective Member Tours if you book in advance.

 Book here

Alternatively, people considering joining the Library are also normally welcome to purchase a daily or weekly ticket in order to experience some of the benefits of membership in advance. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more details and please note that we usually need at least 72 hours notice. People with daily or weekly tickets may only view items inside the Library. Daily tickets £30. Weekly tickets £120. 

If you have any questions about membership, please contact Membership on 020 7766 4720 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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; the majority of books and periodicals are housed on-site at 14 St James's Square, although we do hold a small number of publications in an off-site store. These are usually duplicates of titles which are available electronically through the online catalogue (Catalyst), although we can bring volumes back to site for consultation on request.​

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. Our Science & Miscellaneous collections are frequently cited by our members as their favourite for serendipitous research. Textbooks are not within the Library's scope nor titles that may be regarded as 'how to' or 'self-help' in any of our collected subjects. Works on current technology, business, law, medicine and the hard sciences 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 6,000 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 that they wish to consult to be acquired by the Library.

Does the Library hold periodicals?

The Library maintains current subscriptions to over 400 print and online journals 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. There is also online access to thousands of titles through our subscription to JSTOR, an online archive of journals.

We also subscribe a selection of online resources and databases that complement our print holdings; these include key newspaper archives, collections of 18th century materials, art history research materials, British History Online and many more.

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, which can then be consulted under invigilation. Some items are housed in an off-site store but can be brough back for consultation on request.

Can books be borrowed?

Almost all Library materials may be borrowed.

How many books can be borrowed?

We allow a maximum loan allowance of 15 for all members. Those who wish to borrow more than 15 books at any one time are able to increase their allowance for an additional fee in sets of five up to 40.

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?

Approximately 95% of the Library's holdings can be found by searching our online catalogue (known as Catalyst). Work is continuing to make the remaining 5% of our holdings available online as soon as possible. 

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, special booths are provided where members can make calls without disturbing others and these can be booked in advance.

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.