The art deco building, which Senate House Library is part of, is a literary landmark in the heart of Bloomsbury, located next to the British Museum.
Senate House Library occupies the 4th to the 19th floors of the building with member areas on the 4th to 7th floors containing over 430 study spaces.
There are 6 main historic library reading rooms on the 4th floor:
- Goldsmiths’ Library reading room
- Middlesex South and North reading rooms
- Sterling Library / Palaeography room (Special Collections)
- Durning Lawrence Library
- Periodicals room
Also on the 4th floor is the Durning Lawrence Library and the Dr Seng Tee Lee Seminar Room which are used for meetings and private hire.
Senate House Library was formerly known as the University of London Library. The University of London was founded in 1836 and, two years later, in 1838 it received its first donation of 200 books. The first known mention to the University of London Library appears in 1846. Only in 2004 was it renamed Senate House Library. The Library is open to the public as well as students and academics of the University of London – membership is required.
In 1937, after a century of being housed in temporary premises, the University of London and its Library permanently moved to Senate House. The beautiful art deco building was constructed between 1932 and 1937 as the first phase of an uncompleted scheme designed for the University by Charles Holden. It consists of 19 floors and is 210 feet (64 m) high.
During the Second World War the Ministry of Information used Senate House as its headquarters. The building would later become the model for the ‘Ministry of Truth’ in George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four. Today Senate House is an architectural landmark in the heart of Bloomsbury and is open to the public for events and conferences. It is also a popular venue for film, and television productions.
Learn more about our history.