Over the past eight years Gladstone’s Library has worked to ensure that our ever-growing community has all reasonable access to our collections. The Library has always been known as a place where researchers are helped and prioritised, with lengthy working hours and open access to internationally-significant printed books.
Reading Room staff closely monitor collection condition and in the past few years a number of procedures have been put in place to safeguard the archives – our most fragile items – in our care. These have been extremely successful and have enabled the sustainable use of archives by many more people.
As our users know well, the Reading Rooms are now a busy and bustling place. Put simply, many more of our books are now regularly handled by many more people. From 2021 we will therefore bring the access to our book collections in line with the access requirements to our archives. Rare and distinctive books, including William Ewart Gladstone's own collection, will be housed in a closed store and those wishing to access them will fill in request forms. Access will remain free of charge and freely-given; the new procedures simply ensure security and staff involvement.
Not only does this bring Gladstone’s Library in line with national best-practice for storage of rare collections but it also ensures that the collections are sustainably and securely preserved for future generations. It also ensures that the Reading Room can remain an open, socially-distanced working space.
Please regularly check this page for updates and information.