Over 97% of the collections, which now number a million volumes, is available for loan, and is stored on 17 miles of open-access shelves, which may be freely browsed.




The London Library's collections reflect more than most the changing reading tastes and research requirements of generation after generation of its readers. The first desiderata lists for the Library were drawn up by its founder members: Carlyle, Gladstone, Grote, Hammond, Mill, Mazzini and other leading scholars of the day, each responsible for ensuring coverage in their particular areas of specialization.

Members continue to play a central role in the selection and development of the collections, by bequeathing parts of their personal libraries, by donating copies of their own books, and by making regular suggestions for acquisition.

Current acquisition policy is overseen by the Deputy Director and Head of Acquisitions assisted by specialist staff. Material is acquired through purchase as well as donation and bequest from members. Books are selected from publisher catalogues, review material and member requests and suggestions.

Titles are listed on the online catalogue from the moment the order is placed, with most available shortly after publication (or within a few weeks of the request in the case of earlier titles). Our preference is to acquire cloth editions of titles in order to minimise binding costs; paperback material will be considered if there is no alternative. Audio, video, CD/DVD formats and e-books are not collected but major online resources are acquired. 

Members wishing to donate titles or considering bequeathing books to the Library should contact the Head of Acquisitions either by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by letter so the offers can be discussed. The Library regrets it is unable to accept offers from non-members.


Recent Acquisitions

Recent acquisitions are displayed in the Catalogue Hall with a selection of book jackets available for additional information. New books may be borrowed for a fortnight. Members may place a request for a new book while it is still on order from the publisher, or on loan to another member, and will be notified when it is available.

New acquisitions lists are also displayed each month on the online catalogue.


Suggestions for purchase

The Library welcomes suggestions from members for both new and older titles that would be appropriate additions to the collection. The Head of Acquisitions reviews every title suggested and decisions are usually made within a fortnight. Foreign title suggestions are forwarded to the relevant staff for consideration.

To reach us quickly, suggestions are best made through This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

But it is also possible to contact us at
The London Library
14 St James's Square
London SW1Y 4LG
(020) 7930 7705

Please quote your membership number in all correspondence. 


John O'Farrell


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