Our Collection - Making Space for the Future

As previously reported, The London Library’s shelf capacity is effectively full, with occupancy in many areas running at 92%- 95%. Space is so tight in places that it is becoming difficult to house and manage the existing bookstock, and we are rapidly running out of room to develop the collection with the new acquisitions that are so fundamental to keeping the Library up-to date. Each year we are adding around 6,000 new books and require 180m of shelf space each year to house these.

A detailed Collections Review was carried out in 2017 helping identify how we might prioritise management of stock and relieve shelf space. With the building at capacity we are now considering removing some material that no longer meets members’ needs, is available online, and is not core to our collection strengths. This includes some bibliographic materials which are now freely available online and for which print subscriptions ceased some time ago; Hansard which is available online, and some foreign, incomplete government publications; and duplicate monographs where we hold two or more copies which we can reduce without content being lost. It is anticipated that we will remove some material during December.

The Collections team in the Library are investigating the route through which some of these materials can best be removed. In some cases, there may be opportunities for sale or donation to other libraries/collections/book dealers; in others, where none of these options are viable or the condition of the books is too poor to warrant sale, disposal by recycling may be required.

Staff in the Issue Hall will be able to assist anyone in using electronic alternatives.

None of the decisions about reorganising our collection are being taken lightly but by freeing up shelf space we can continue to develop the Library’s outstanding collection and ensure it is housed and managed appropriately.