Help us Refresh and Restore the Collection

April 2024 Update

Thanks to those who have donated to the 2023/24 Refresh & Restore Library Fund appeal, we have raised just under £140,000 towards restoring and refreshing our magnificent collection.

The funds raised from this campaign will be used over the next three years to develop our existing collection, and to care for items in need of repair. One exceptionally precious item which has already been repaired is our copy of Henry VIII’s Defence of the Seven Sacraments. The book is a scathing response to the critique of the church published by Martin Luther in 1520. In it, Henry defends the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church and refers to Luther as ‘a wolf of hell’ and ‘a poisonous viper.’ Published in 1521, this text earned Henry the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ from Pope Leo X.


(Above) Henry VIII’s Defence of the Seven Sacraments

Our copy bears not only the Royal coat of arms and the Tudor Rose, but also the pomegranate insignia that belonged to Catherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife. This marks it as significant for two reasons. Firstly, it must have been published before Henry VIII's attempts to divorce Catherine; secondly, it is rare for having survived the large-scale removal of Catherine’s symbol once Anne Boleyn came to power.

Previously, the book was bound too tightly, which not only made it difficult to open but was also damaging the pages. The picture below shows the inner left joint splitting. Restoration work has consolidated and protected the leather binding. The pages have been repaired and resewn together, and the papier mache spine has been repaired as well.


Further updates will follow over the ensuing three years, as the totals raised from the Library Fund is spent to Refresh & Restore our collection.

and Restore

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.


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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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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:


• 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


• 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

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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