The London Library’s shelves are operationally full. Space needs to be made for future acquisitions, as well as to house the existing collection in better conditions which alleviates the danger of damage to the stock, and improves the browsing experience for members.

The Library is embarking on a programme to reduce holdings of some material, and exploring the options for out-storing some items too. This work is being carried out over 2020 and 2021 in order to create space on our shelves, and with an on-going strategy thereafter to keep shelves at an optimal capacity.

This work is being carried out by the Collections Team, led by Matthew Brooke, Director of Collections and Library Services, with the Heads of the Acquisitions, Collection Care and Member Services teams. The work is overseen by the Collections Committee, chaired by Giles Milton.

Collection management update 

May 2022

As the London Library shelfmark scheme is unique, we keep it under regular review to ensure that books can easily be found.

We have recently reviewed our shelfmark ‘S. Women’ to ensure that we place books that talk about women’s place in history, science etc. alongside those written about men. As a result, we removed the shelfmark ‘S. Women’ and redistributed these books to over 40 shelfmarks across the library where they will be better discovered by those interested in these topics.

As a further result of this review, we identified a gap around books on feminism and feminist theory, so created a ‘S. Feminism’ shelfmark to ensure these books were shelved together. We also identified books on gender identify, sexuality, etc. Within general books on sex (e.g. history of prostitution) so moved these to a new shelfmark of S. Gender & Sexuality.

March 2022

In the next stage of our project to create space on the shelves for new acquisitions, we will be moving 60 titles from Periodicals 4to. to our offsite store in Oxfordshire.

All of these titles are available online through JSTOR or another reliable provider and, as with the 8vo. (the Periodicals we moved offsite last year), members can request any volume to consult in print and we will have it retrieved. Browse the list of titles here.

December 2020

As the next phase of this strategy, in the New Year we will move a selection of the periodicals held in the basement to off-site store. All titles to be moved are duplicated online and are available to members, either through the Library's subscriptions, such as JSTOR, or on open access websites, including Gallica and Biodiversity Heritage Library. Members will also be able to request print volumes of these periodicals through Catalyst, and they will be retrieved from the offsite store with two working days' notice.  

 A number of journals that are available online but which we know are well used in print at the Library will be retained on-site. The list of journals proposed for removal to off-site store is here. If there are any specific titles that members wish to retain on-site, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Once the periodicals have been removed, a minor rearrangement of stock will be carried out and some additional temporary desk space will be made available whilst social distancing restrictions continue to reduce our available desks by a third.

Further information about the strategy can be found through the following links:

Collection drop-in sessions: member feedback

Collection strategy implementation

Foreign government publications

Collection management – FAQs

Feedback about the strategy is welcome. Please send comments to Matthew Brooke, Director of Collections and Library Services: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.