ReaderPLUS and Friends - some updates for 2021

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Due to the Covid-19 pandemic Gladstone’s Library has been shut for some time. If (as we hope) we open again in September 2021, it’ll have been almost eighteen months since we closed the doors.

You’ve offered the most phenomenal support during this time. You’ve sent messages and cards, made donations, and spread the word about all our news. Your support has helped us achieve things we’ve tried to do for years such as refurbishing parts of our building, and making more events and courses available online.

What you haven’t been able to do, however, is physically visit. Lots of you can’t do that because you live all over the UK and the world. Many of our Friends will only rarely make it to Hawarden, in fact. Then there's the recent global events preventing travel, hopefully not in the future but who knows? You may be someone who will need to shield again in the future.

That doesn’t mean you’re not part of our community. While we’ve been closed we’ve built an online environment for you: the Gladstone Bag holds an online archive of recorded talks, interviews and lectures; increased online event capacity means that we can restart our event programme; we've bought a broadcasting kit so that talks and lectures will be attended from anywhere in the world. Going forward, much of what we do will have an online element.

All these changes have made us look again at how we do things here in Hawarden, and particularly our Reader and Friends scheme. We’ve decided to streamline our systems and opening times so that we can offer you more. We understand how our Readers need to work flexibly and we want to support that as best as we can.

ReaderPLUS will no longer exist as a category from September 2021, and you’ll no longer have to be a Friend to work late. Instead, everyone who has a ReaderPLUS card will become a Reader but still able to use the Reading Rooms seven days a week from 9am-10pm.

What does this mean? For the majority of you, nothing at all. You’ll simply visit us and work in the Reading Rooms as you always have. Some of you will be able to work a little longer, some of you will be able to study after work like you were already. You just won’t have to be a Friend to work late. We’ve sorted the main differences below into a helpful list.

But mostly, we hope that you’ll all want to continue as our Friends! Friendship of Gladstone’s Library helps one of the UK’s most unique cultural institutions keep going. We’re a registered charity and receive no external funding other than that which we raise ourselves. Each year it costs around £1.5 million to maintain the building, purchase new collection items, run a full event programme and fund everything else that we do. Your donations play an important role in helping us do all that we do. Thank-you.

I am a ReaderPLUS. What does this mean?

If you’d like to remain a Friend and keep supporting us, you don’t need to do anything. Your ReaderPLUS card will remain valid and will get you into the Reading Rooms. When it’s time to renew you will simply be issued with a Reader card: see the list below for all the benefits you'll receive.

If you don’t want to remain a Friend, all the above applies but you need to contact Elizabeth Newmarch to notify us that you will be cancelling your standing order.


  • Are anyone who makes a regular donation;
  • Can be anywhere in the world;
  • Support all of what we do here at the Library, whether that’s our books, collections, events, conferences, food, gardens….
  • Are looked after by the Development Office and should communicate via;
  • Have access to the Gladstone’s Library Digital Archive, via the Gladstone Bag;
  • Have their own Gladstone Bag ‘pocket’ with offers and recommendations;
  • Receive a joining gift of bookmarks and postcards.


  • Receive a free Reader card on application;
  • Can access the Reading Rooms (9am-10pm daily);
  • Are looked after by the Reading Room team and should communicate via;
  • Have a Gladstone Bag ‘pocket’ with all Reading Room news.