Gladstone's Library | the UK's finest residential library


Over the last few months, we have been greatly heartened by the number of people who have asked “How can we help the Library?” It has been very moving and encouraging to know that so many people want to do something to help us get back on our feet. We are delighted to say that we are now in a position to answer that question by announcing details of our Recovery Fund.

The aim of our Recovery Fund is to raise £100,000 to support us in the months leading up to re-opening in 2021 and during the first few tentative months of trading. To reach our target, we need 1,000 people to each donate £100.

The number of shelves in the main Reading Room is 1,001. For a donation of £100, your name, or the name of someone on whose behalf you would like to make a gift, will be linked to one of those shelves.

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A message from Peter Francis, Warden and Director

Dear Friends,

It gives me great pleasure to say, “We are really looking forward to welcoming you back”.

We aim to re-open on Wednesday 1st September.  I wish it could be sooner but we cannot risk an earlier date. The Library runs on very small margins which means we cannot afford to open until we can trade successfully. We will be safer and will lose less money opening when the time is right rather than hurrying to open at the very first opportunity. The one thing we can’t afford to do is to open and then have to close again.  By September, I hope there will be greater confidence for us to travel and resume our busy and creative lives. Already September is filling up with bookings – let’s hope this is not yet another false dawn but with the vaccines and continued social distancing we believe the Library will be safe.

In the six months before we re-open we will continue to make improvements to the building. At the moment the builders are in creating four new en-suite bedrooms which means all our guest bedrooms will have their own bathroom.  We are adding new WCs on the ground floor. We are in the process of removing the step outside reception which so many people have fallen down in the past. This will also widen and improve the area around reception. The dining room is going to be refurbished and the food we offer will have a new slant. Our three main seminar rooms will have enhanced digital equipment allowing people to join meetings and events remotely. These changes not only improve what we can offer you but enable and enhance social distancing. We will also take this opportunity to replace our old and increasingly unreliable and outdated fire alarm system and we have already replaced our boilers so our heating will be less erratic and all the rooms will be heated effectively and efficiently.

Almost all of our events in the future will be hybrid with some people in the room and others joining remotely. This hugely increases our potential world-wide audience and we’re working towards live-streaming events. Audio and film of past events are already available through The Gladstone Bag (The Bag) on our website, in a Digital Archive that’s exclusively available to Friends. You can find all the information on our blog.

We hope that our  programme in September will start with Gladfest (Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September), scaled down considerably from previous years but nevertheless providing a range of events with friends old and new. It will be a positive step to let people know we are back. It will give us something to celebrate. Details of other events for the rest of the year will emerge soon.

I know those six months will rush by and the five of us, still working here, are not going to waste any of this time. We are all working hard to improve our amenities and ensure we will be ready for your long-awaited return.  There will be changes, we all realise it will not be simply carrying on where we left off but we are determined that the ethos will remain the same and the modifications we are making will  only enhance what we offer and help to ensure your safety.

A very big thank you to all those who have given so generously through our Sponsor a Shelf Covid Recovery Scheme. Without your support I am not sure we would have been able to survive. We now need one final push to ensure we have enough funds to do everything we require to ensure your safety before your return and of course to begin to recruit new staff. Please support the Library by sponsoring a shelf if you can.  This will give us and others (an original Easter present?) hope for the future. 

Please click here to support us.

Peter Francis
Warden and Director

Sleeping with books

Food for Thought

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