To fund the replacement of damaged windows in the St James’s Building the Library launched an urgent fundraising appeal at the beginning of June 2018. The response has been fantastic, raising sufficient funds for the project to begin moving ahead. Thank you to everyone who donated to the Appeal – your support helped make this vital project possible.

You can still donate to the Windows Appeal. All funds raised will go towards the replacement of the windows or subsequent improvements to the St James’s Building book stacks, and all donors giving £130 or more (£10 for each window) will be listed on a special donor board next to the finished windows. 

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1. St Jamess WindowsThirteen windows on the west side of the book stacks in the St James’s Building are in urgent need of replacement – we need your help to make this happen.

The current windows are severely affected with dry rot, the putty is dried out, the glazing is unstable and there is little protection from water ingress. The casements, frames and fascias all need to be replaced. If this work doesn’t happen now there is significant risk that some of these windows may fail, putting the book collection and St James’s Building in danger of permanent damage and bringing further costs and disruption to the Library.

These ageing windows, with elements dating back to the 1890s, have deteriorated to such a critical state that the Library has committed to replacing them immediately before any permanent damage to the building occurs. Work will begin in early July 2018 and should be completed by the end of August, with the total cost of the project just under £75,000. 


The St James’s Building we know today was created in the late 1890s as a refurbishment of the house the Library moved into in 1845. The 1896 Specification of Works details the design for these windows – elements have been replaced over the years, but there are still some parts remaining of the original windows, and the design still matches the 1896 specification.

The windows even survived the blitz and WWII, despite the Library being hit by a bomb only a few metres away in 1944.


The St James’s Building had been due to be refurbished and extended as part of the Development Project. The windows would have been replaced during the refurbishment, but their worsening condition means it is vital this happens immediately.

3. Damage 2

2. Damage 1







This is a long-term solution rather than a short-term fix – the new windows are guaranteed to last at least 50 years, and will remain in place after any subsequent refurbishment work.
The new windows have been specially designed by architects Haworth Tompkins, who have worked with the Library since 2004. The designs implement 100 years of development in window design, but have been matched to the existing space and style, and satisfy listed building requirements.

In addition to replacing the existing windows, the new designs provide a number of direct benefits for the building, the collection and users:

  • Vastly increased UV protection – reducing harmful rays and preventing damage to the book collection
  •  Reduced thermal loss and solar gain – heat can’t escape in the winter and the sun can’t get through in the summer
  • Double glazing – providing much better noise protection
  • Simple maintenance – the windows are designed to fold inwards, saving money on ongoing maintenance and prolonging their life


The St James’s stacks are an integral part of the Library. They hold much of its considerable collection of international literature, alongside English literature, allowing members unparalleled access to materials from across Europe in the original language as well as in translation.

Perhaps less well known is that these spaces, formed from the upper floors of the Georgian building in which the Library sits, also house a few desks with some beautiful views over St James’s Square. The Library wishes to take advantage of the improved climate created by these new windows to almost double the number of desks in this space. To help achieve this we are also rearranging some books, both to give those in the St James’s stacks more room to breathe and to remove some temporary shelving that was added in the early 1980s.

The result will be an extra six desks looking out over the square that are sure to become firm favourites for members seeking a quiet space to work with lots of light.

The Library needs your help to complete the emergency replacement of these windows. You can make a donation online here, or do so at reception the next time you are in the Library. There are also opportunities to name individual windows – to find out more contact the Library’s Development Office on 020 7766 4734.



Lynne Truss


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