Gladstone’s Library has been recognised as the most important research library and collection in Wales, after the National Library of Wales.
The heart of the Library is Gladstone's own collection, the Gladstone Foundation Collection. Donated from his personal library which at one point contained over 32,000 volumes, many of the books that we hold here contain his annotations, some of which are extremely detailed. In addition to his books, the Library houses most of Gladstone's non-political correspondence, speeches, and papers, as well as the Glynne-Gladstone Archive. Outside of Gladstone’s own library, the collection contains more than 150,000 books, journals and pamphlets on a wide range of subjects but specialising in our core subject areas of theology and religion, literature and literary culture, and history and politics. Although our holdings are strongest in the long nineteenth century (usually defined as 1789-1914), this unique collection is kept up-to-date with the latest publications which readers can browse on the open shelves.
Using the Collections
To use the collections in person, you must hold a Reader Card. To use restricted-access items, including special collections and archives, everyone, including Readers and Residents, must give notice in advance. Most collection items are available to use between 9am and 5pm, seven days a week.
Collection Classification Systems
The collections are catalogued using a version of William Gladstone’s own classification system, developed throughout his life to manage his ever-growing collection. The current classification list can be found here. The Islamic Faith and Culture collection is catalogued using Dewey Decimal System. When using the catalogue, we advise Readers to pay attention to the item’s location and classmark. A guide to classmark locations and the Reading Room map can be found here. All guides are available on the Enquiry Desk, found in the Theology Room.
Gladstone’s own books are identified by the prefix WEG before their classmark.
Using the Collections Online
All of Gladstone’s Library’s holdings can be browsed using MainCAT. Readers can access several extra services, including book reservations and saved searches, by logging in with the unique Reader number found on your card.
Enhanced finding aids and guides are available for each special collection and archive. These can be found on the dedicated page for each archive and special collection.
The Gladstone Foundation Collection can also be browsed using the enhanced catalogue GladCAT. This catalogue contains Gladstone’s annotations in searchable format.
In 2018 Gladstone’s Library launched Digital Gladstone, an umbrella term for a series of projects and initiatives designed to increase the proportion of our collections available to browse online. More information can be found by following the link to the dedicated pages.