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Senate House Library

Our history

Senate House Library is the central Library of the University of London and the School of Advanced Study. It has a rich history at the heart of the University, and London’s student and research community.

The library moved to its current location at Senate House, the home of the University, in 1937.

21st Century

  • In 2011 the University of London completed a large scale refurbishment of the Library spaces at Senate House.
  • In 2008 the library was given the M.S. Anderson Collection of Writings on Russia Printed between 1525 and 1917. This was one of several new special collections given in the 21st century, which range from poet Walter de la Mare’s working library to the ongoing donation of the Ron Heisler collection relating to labour and radical political movements.
  • In 2003 the Making of the Modern World (based on holdings in the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature and on the Kress Library at Harvard) was launched.
  • In 2004 the Library changed its name from the University of London Library to Senate House Library, University of London.

20th Centrury

  • In the 1980s the Library focused on the arts, humanities and social sciences.
  • The University of London opened a co-operative depository store in Egham, Surrey in 1961.
  • In 1956 the Sterling Library was gifted to Senate House Library.
  • The Harry Price Library of Magical Literature was gifted to the Library in 1948.
  • During the Second World War the Ministry of Information occupied Senate House. The Library was closed to most personal users.
  • The Library moved into the newly-built Senate House in Bloomsbury (1937).
  • The Durning-Lawrence Library was gifted to the Library in 1929. The music library opened in 1926, complete with a pianola and gramophone.
  • In 1910 a large proportion of the London Institution’s 150,000 volumes were gifted to the Library.
  • The Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths doubled the University Library’s holdings in 1903 by gifting to it the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature. This led to the appointment of the central University’s first dedicated librarian.
  • In 1900 the Library moved, along with the rest of the Central University, to the Imperial Institute in South Kensington.

19th Century

  • In 1872 the Liberal M.P. Julian Goldsmid gave the University £1,000 to buy Classical books. The Library received its two founding collections (about 9,000 titles): the De Morgan Library, purchased for the University by Samuel Loyd, Baron Overstone, and the library of the Classical historian and University Vice-Chancellor George Grote.
  • The University and the Library moved into its first purpose-built accommodation in Burlington Gardens, Piccadilly.
  • The Library received its founding collections in 1871 and opened in 1877.
  • The University of London was founded in 1836.