Help us Refresh and Restore the Collection

The London Library’s collection is truly unique. Developed through 180 years of careful thought from generations of Library staff, trustees and members, today the collection holds around 1 million volumes. The depth and range of the collection along with the liberal access members enjoy are what make the Library such a special and treasured resource.   

We take pride in the strength of the collection and its accessibility and know that everyone involved with the Library cherishes the books on our shelves. With that in mind, we are eager to do more and have identified some key projects to Refresh and Restore the collection. We hope to raise £80,000 to kick-start these projects over a period of years – any donation you can make to The Library Fund will help us reach this goal.

Donate Now 

January 2024 Update

Thanks to the generous support for this year’s Library Fund appeal, we have raised nearly £55,000 towards our £80,000 goal.

These funds have already enabled us to begin work on Refreshing and Restoring our magnificent collection, starting with one of the oldest – and most exciting – items on our shelves. Defence of the Seven Sacraments, written by Henry VIII in 1521, is a scathing response to the critique of the church published by Martin Luther in 1520. In it, the monarch defends the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and refers to Luther as ‘a wolf of hell’ and ‘a poisonous viper.’

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Henry VIII’s reply prompted Pope Leo X to confer the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ on the monarch. Although the title was later retracted by Rome, an Act of Parliament confirmed and made it hereditary. Bound in the original calf and stamped with the royal arms, this volume is particularly notable for bearing one of the few existing marks of Katherine of Aragon’s cleft pomegranate emblem.

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Due to its extremely tight binding and old age, this pamphlet’s joints are split and need to be carefully pulled apart and re-sewn back together. At present it is extremely difficult to open. Additional repairs include restoring damaged varnished surfaces, shoring up structural weaknesses, and replacing the poor-quality leather which was used in historic restorations.

Thanks to funding from The Library Fund, we have been able to start the four-month long process of specialist conservation work to make this volume accessible for members and to preserve it for future generations.

 
Refresh

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We want to develop new areas of the collection and strengthen others in line with feedback from members. Our primary focus is on 
maintaining the core strengths of the collection, so we need help to develop our reach beyond this:


  • Broadening cultural representation in art, history and literature and increasing the contemporary and diverse voices in fiction, literature, drama and poetry 

  • Replacing key books identified as missing during a book tagging project to get them back on the shelves for member use 

  • Spending funds raised over a period of years, gauging interest in different subjects and approaches 

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Restore

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A major challenge for the Library is caring for the collection while maintaining open access and borrowing for members. We need help with two distinct projects to support this:


Rebinding

• The Library’s book tagging project revealed many books in urgent need of rebinding

• These books are on open access shelves and need new bindings to make sure they remain useable and accessible

• A donation of £100 could help give three volumes new bindings Conservation


Conservation

• Our collection care team have identified a small number of books in need of specialist conservation work which can’t be carried out in-house

• Most volumes are special collections items published before 1750 and are available for use by Library members

• A donation of £500 could help us restore one of these volumes

Donate Now 

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What is the Library Fund?

The Library Fund is an annual fundraising appeal focused on improving the Library in ways that directly impact its users. How people use the Library is at the heart of what makes it a special institution. Supporters of The Library Fund help improve the Library’s collections, services and spaces to enhance enjoyment of the Library.

Find out more about past Library Fund projects