Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What are your opening times?

Do you have to be a member?

How much does it cost to become a member?

Does Gladstone's Library lend books?

Do you offer scholarships or bursaries?

Can I take publicity / promotional photographs inside or outside the Library?

Can I bring my bags into the Reading Rooms?

Can I donate my books and archives to Gladstone's Library?

How can I volunteer at Gladstone's Library?

Does Gladstone's Library offer Work Experience placements?

Can Gladstone's Library stock my book in the bookshop?

Can my group book a tour of Gladstone's Library?

Your FAQs answered:

What are your opening times?

The Reading Rooms are open to Readers from 9am-10pm, every day.  Residents can work in the Reading Rooms from 8am-10pm every day.

Staff are available to help all library users from 9am-5pm every day, and only the Theology Room is open outside of staffed hours. 

Please contact Reception for all the latest information.

Do you have to be a member?

Yes, but joining as a Reader is free. All you have to do is complete a short application form, provide two forms of identification (one proof of identity; one proof of address) and you can use the library the same day. We will then send you an email when your card is ready to collect.


How much does it cost to become a member?

Nothing! Becoming a Reader is totally free, though from September 2021 we will be asking anyone who joins for a one-off donation of £5 to cover the cost of our new cards, which offer automated access into the Reading Rooms. These donations are voluntary but please do consider donating if you can, as they only just cover the cost of a Reader card.

Anyone who makes a regular donation to the library becomes a Friend. Friends benefit from priority booking for Library events and Friends-only offers and events. If a regular donation does not suit your circumstances, there are other ways to financially support Gladstone's Library. Please click here if you wish to make a one-off online donation to the Library using your credit or debit card. Business users can benefit from becoming a Corporate Friend. Several of our long-running lectures, as well as some of our scholarships, are funded by individuals making a gift in their will, and you can read about making a bequest to Gladstone's Library here.

Does Gladstone's Library lend books?

We're not a lending library, sorry! Our books stay with us and must not leave the building. If you're staying with us, you can take your books to your bedroom or the Gladstone Room. We do ask, however, that you don't take books into the dining room or any of the bathrooms; books belonging to the Gladstone Foundation Collection must never be removed from the Reading Rooms.

Do you offer scholarships or bursaries?

Yes, we offer both. When William Gladstone established his library, he wanted to ensure that anyone who would benefit from a residential period of study at Hawarden should not be prevented from doing so by financial constraint. 

We offer both scholarships, which are awarded on an annual basis to those working in specific fields, and buraries which allow people to stay at the Library at a highly subsidised rate if they are working on an academic project based on one of our core subjects (theology and religious studies / history and current affairs / classical and contemporary literary culture) or if they are members of the Society of Authors.

 For details of how to apply for either, please visit our Scholarships & Bursaries page.

Can I bring my bags into the Reading Rooms?

Yes, but there are some conditions. 

Many of our users will remember the days when the only bag permitted in the Reading Rooms was transparent and plastic, with black handles and a picture of the Library on the front.

Several years ago the regulations were relaxed, to help readers who were struggling to navigate our twisting staircases with laptop, research materials and books of their own in hand.  This has worked very well, making the Reading Rooms a simpler and safer place to be.

However, it is possible to be too successful! We have noticed bags growing in both size and number, and in 2016 there were a number of incidents where walls, shelves or books were damaged.

We now limit the number of bags permitted in the Reading Rooms. Each user will be able to bring in:

  • One laptop bag or briefcase sized-bag AND;
  • One rucksack or jute bag.

Any bags larger than those pictured can be stored in our secure server room. Enquiry Desk and Reception staff are always on hand if you need access. If you require more bags than this, please contact us before your visit on

We have consulted with a number of UK libraries, particularly those in listed buildings, and we think these restrictions will help facilitate users while also protecting our Grade-One listed Reading Rooms.

Can I donate my books and archives to Gladstone's Library?

The Reading Rooms at Gladstone’s Library are currently closed to donations. Shelf space is very restricted and our accessions policy requires that we prioritise the collections that we already hold.

If you have a collection that is particularly significant to the Library’s core areas, please email the Reading Rooms with a brief description. We encourage you to think well in advance - donating a collection should be thought of in terms of years rather than months.

If you have books to donate, we suggest the following options:

  • List all the titles you have, including author, title, publisher and date of publication. This can be in either a word processed document, or a spreadsheet. Though time-consuming, having a list to distribute vastly increases the chance that a library can review your proposal;
  • Contact local antiquarian, specialist, and second-hand booksellers. They will often be able to visit and select from your collection;
  • Betterworld Books is a charity that takes donations of books. They sell them online and donate the funds to literacy and library charities in the UK and across the world. Donors receive a small fee for any book sold. Gladstone’s Library regularly uses Betterworld Books for de-accessioned titles that do not require disposal through specialist or antiquarian sellers.

If you are looking to deposit an archive please bear in mind that we are currently closed to donations due to lack of storage space. We are happy to give advice on a more appropriate or an alternative place of deposit.

However, we may be able to consider the deposit of archives relating to the Glynne-Gladstone family, and especially to William Gladstone and any that are relevant to the Library’s core archives collection areas. Please contact the Reading Rooms with a brief description (as below):

  • Have an accurate approximation of the number of items in the archive, as well as any useful information as to its size, e.g. number of boxes, size of files, etc.

If we are unable to take your deposit please:

  • Consider contacting your nearest archives, Record Office or library as a more appropriate home.
  • Contact specialist organisations for advice such as the British Records Association or National Archives.

All donations take time to process, from a few days to more than a year for large or complex donations. Donations are expensive to process, require specialist storage materials and we may require financial support in some cases.

How can I volunteer at Gladstone's Library?

Gladstone’s Library has a thriving volunteer programme which is currently gently starting again after being suspended due to the pandemic. Volunteers work in the Reading Rooms, help to run events, and tend to the gardens. Volunteers help us extend our team and broaden our skills. We have three main volunteer teams:

 - Gardens and outdoor spaces. Working with a head volunteer, volunteers help to maintain the Library's beautiful gardens.

 - Reading Rooms. Working with the digital team, archivist or assistant librarian, volunteers help to digitise collection items, inventory archives, and transcribe metadata. We are hoping to launch a small conservation team at some point in the future. 

 - Marketing and Events. Working with the communications officer, volunteers help with event-based tasks, including AV tech and social media promotion.

Our volunteer programme is project-based. Gladstone’s Library is committed to the Living Wage and so we only use paid staff for core roles. Even so, volunteering at Gladstone's Library can help you gain work experience, remain active in retirement, try out a new employment area or simply spend time doing something you enjoy.

Due to the commitment of training, we cannot take on volunteers for a time period of less than six months. Volunteers usually participate in one three-hour shift a week, from 10am-1pm, or 2pm-5pm. Volunteers who help to run events will sometimes be asked to participate in an evening event with a 7pm start, or a weekend event between the hours of 9am-8pm. As it's based outside, garden volunteering hours can be much more flexible and we'll happily discuss that with you.

Gladstone's Library is committed to being accessible to everyone, and some of our volunteer projects can be done remotely, particularly those in the Reading Rooms and in Marketing. You will need a good internet connection and a PC or laptop.

If you are interested in joining one of our volunteer teams, please email You will be sent an application form and an information pack.

Does Gladstone's Library offer Work Experience placements?

Please note that currently the Reading Rooms team are unable to offer work experience. We hope to be able to offer it again very soon.

Gladstone’s Library welcomes requests for work experience; we are delighted that so many people feel that we can provide an enriching learning experience. However, the Reading Rooms at Gladstone’s Library are a silent environment run by a small team. Staff work on individual, long-term projects. Therefore we can only take individuals on work experience during the three or four weeks that we set aside for hosting school work experience. These are set by the schools each year and can vary, but are usually in mid-March, the final week of June and the first week in July. These weeks are specifically designed to offer a short-term, five-day experience of working in libraries and archives. Anyone can attend these weeks, up to a limit dictated by space. Unfortunately we are unable to deliver work experience in any other format.

Please contact with Work Experience requests.

Can Gladstone's Library stock my book in the bookshop?

Gladbooks, the Gladstone's Library bookshop, stocks only books that support our programme. For a book to be stocked, an author must be the recipient of a Residency, speaking at Hearth or Gladfest, or giving some other talk or course as part of our official programme (i.e. that which is confirmed and booked the previous year and is in the printed programme).

If you’ve written a book that you think Library users might be interested in, you are very welcome to put up a poster promoting their work (subject to the rules of the noticeboard) or to leave flyers on the windowsill.

Policy on promotion via official Library marketing (social media and/or e-newsletter)

Gladstone’s Library cannot advertise or endorse books via print advertising. Writers can apply to have their books mentioned on our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter Instagram) and/or our e-newsletter to our mailing list if:

  • the book reproduces material from archives held at Gladstone’s Library;
  • the book makes significant reference to the Library’s history, staff, or collections.

If you have dedicated the book to Gladstone’s Library, or thanked the institution or staff in acknowledgements, please alert us via an email to The Reading Room staff are compiling a register of all books written, plotted, or researched here, to be kept in the Library’s archive.

Can my group book a tour of Gladstone's Library?

At the moment there are no tours of the Reading Rooms at Gladstone's Library. 

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