Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
It was founded in 1841, under the guidance of Thomas Carlyle, who was disatisfied with some of the policies of the British Library. It maintains a club-like atmosphere, and boasts roughly 8000 members and over one million books, which can be borrowed or browsed on open stacks. A worldwide postal service is also available for members. The library has over one million books in all areas, with special emphasis upon the Arts and Humanities. It gains around 8,000 new titles a year and holds 850 current periodcials. Membership is open to all, upon payment of a reasonable annual fee.
The London Library is an independent institution, entirely self-supporting, its 8,000 members still largely private individuals although some 250 corporate bodies also belong. It is a registered charity whose sole aim is the advancement of education, learning and knowledge and is incorporated by Royal Charter, with its own Byelaws and the power to make or amend its own Rules. It has a royal patron, an elected President and Vice-Presidents and is administered by an elected Board of Trustees numbering no more than 15 including the Chair and Honorary Treasurer.
The librarys' building stands at the north-west corner of St James's Square, as it has since 1845, after briefly occupying the first floor of the Travellers Club at 49 Pall Mall. The Library owes its foundation to Thomas Carlyle, who remains its tutelary genius. If his original impulse came from dissatisfaction (voiced by others as well as him) with the library of the British Museum, he had the further and unique object of enabling subscribers to enjoy something of the wealth, especially in English books, of the national library in their own homes. The Earl of Clarendon, that enlightened early Victorian politician, was the library's first president, Thackeray its first auditor; Gladstone and Sir Edward Bunbury were on the first committee. A vigorous and long-serving presence in later Victorian times was Richard Monckton-Milnes, later Lord Houghton, the friend of Florence Nightingale. Dickens was among the founder members. In more recent times, Lord Clark and T S Eliot have been among the library's presidents and Sir Harold Nicolson, Sir Rupert Hart-Davis and the Hon Michael Astor its chairman.
The library contains about a million books in all European languages. The subject range is mainly within the humanities, with particular emphasis on literature, history and related subjects. There is a good representation of fine and applied art, architecture, philosophy, religion and topography and travel, including guide-books and atlases. The social sciences are more lightly covered. Pure and natural sciences, technology, medicine and law are not within the library's scope, although it has some books in all these fields; books on the history of all these subjects are normally acquired. Periodicals and annuals on a wide range of subjects are maintained. Although there have been some losses - war damage carried off a number of books in 1944, and in 1970 the library's few 15th century books were sold - the London Library has retained most of the books it has acquired since it was founded in 1841, many of them long pre-dating it, others as recent as the present day.
The London Library - Futher information on the library, including it's online catalogue.
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