Tuesday, July 13

The London Library

Seeing the London Library's front door from St. James Square, one would not think that this library is the largest independent library in the world. The library was founded in 1841 by Thomas Carlyle and originally housed in first floor of the Travellers Club in Pall Mall. In 1979, the library began renting a townhouse on St. James Square after buying the property the library has continued to grow over the years and had to expand. The first expansion was in 1890's when the original building was torn down and replaced with a steel structured building and then again in the 1913, 1931 and 2004. The library we see today owes its architecture to Sir Charles Hagberg Wright.

As you can see from the picture above, the different expansions have significantly added more room during each of the expansion projects. You can also see from this map The TS Eliot House, named after one of their famous patrons. Others also included through history: Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens, Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie and Winston Churchill, to name a few.
The library has over 7500 members consisting of individuals and groups.

The library has over 15 miles of shelving and the collection grows by over 8000 books a year and is never weeded. The collection focuses on Arts and Humanities, 16th century to the present and is 97% loanable. They are catalogued in a manner devised by Sir Wright by subject and then alphabetically by subject and then again by author or subject heading. The London Library does have an online catalog, but only item post-1950 are included so far. The other 42% of the collection is being processed for the online catalog.

Visit the London Library's website at http://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/.

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