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About us

Located at Senate House in Bloomsbury, we are the central library for the University of London and the School of Advanced Study. Members have access to beautiful study spaces in Central London, outstanding Arts, Humanities and Social Science, Special CollectionsArchives, and digital resources. Find out more about the research strengths of our collections.

Senate House Library

About us

Located at Senate House in Bloomsbury, we are the central library for the University of London and the School of Advanced Study. Members have access to beautiful study spaces in Central London, outstanding Arts, Humanities and Social Science, Special CollectionsArchives, and digital resources. Find out more about the research strengths of our collections.

Senate House Library

We are the central library for the University of London and the School of Advanced Study. One of the UK's largest academic libraries for arts, humanities & social sciences.

  • 2 Million : Books
  • 50 : Special Collections
  • 1,800 : Archival collections

Find out more

Commercial licensing

Commercial licensing

Senate House Library works in partnership with publishers to make our rare and archival collections as widely available as possible. Whether you want to publish on the web, on DVD or in print, for institutional or consumer audiences, we can supply a licence to suit. We can scan small-scale collections using our own studio and staff onsite, but we are also happy to enable large projects in other venues using approved contractors.

To enquire about licensing opportunities, see template agreements, or create themed selections of rare book, periodical or manuscript content for inclusion in publications, please contact:

Caroline Kimbell, Associate Director: Commercial Licensing and Digitisation
caroline.kimbell@london.ac.uk | 0207 862 8476

Visiting Research Fellowship

Senate House Library (in partnership with the Friends of Senate House Library) annually invites applications for a Visiting Research Fellowship (up to 3 months) to make use of the Library’s world-class collections. The funds available to the successful candidate are up to £10,000 for the stated period. Find out more.

History of the Library

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.

Library management

For questions about strategy and planning contact a member of the Library management.

Contact us

For general enquiries about the Library, for information about our range of services, please use the Library Live Chat service which is available via the pop out widget on the front page. If you would like to provide suggestions or feedback, or if you prefer to use email, you can send an email.

To contact a specific member of staff, please go to the staff contacts page or view the senior staff page.

Partnerships

We are a member of SCONULM25 Consortium of Academic LibrariesLIBER, CERL, and a founding member of Research Libraries UK. More about partnerships. Find out more.

Exhibitions and events

The Library holds two main exhibitions a year with additional displays in the Membership Hall. Find out more about exhibitions.

A regular schedule of School of Advanced Study events are held at Senate House, as well as Library events.

Senate House Library offers a range of spaces for hire, to hold your own event, conference or society meeting.

Annual Review & Publications

View or download the Senate House Library Annual Review 2018-19 [Webpage, PDF 26.9MB] 

User Advisory Forum

The User Advisory Forum provides an opportunity for our members to have a say in the future of Senate House Library.

Friends

The Friends run a programme of talks, lectures, seminars, visits, socials and book groups over the academic session, membership of which entitles you to free admission. Visits are normally open only to Members. Learn more about the Friends.

Volunteering with us

Senate House Library has long encouraged voluntary work opportunities with the collections, for the mutual benefit of volunteers and the Library.

We advertise our volunteering roles on the main University of London website. We cannot accept unsolicited CVs but you are very welcome to apply if and when an advert appears: https://www.jobs.london.ac.uk/

Find out more about voluntary work at Senate House Library.