After my visit to the City Business Library, I went up the stairs into the Guildhall Library, another City of London public library. I had learned on our group's earlier visit to the Barbican Library that the Guildhall Library had been founded in the 1420s by Dick Whittington. Like the City Business Library, the Guildhall Library is a reference only institution. I enquired at the information desk as to the size of their collection, but again the librarian did not know of any current statistics. She estimated that the collection contained few hundred thousand volumes. Most of these are not on public display, but are available to request through the Library's catalogue. Items stored on site may be fetched in around 15 minutes, but some may take up to two days. Most manuscripts are stored at the London Metropolitan Archives but several computers provide access to the City of London Digital Archive.
The Guildhall Library, like the City Business Library, was small but modernized. It contained several journals as well as books. Journal subjects varied but included archaeology, history, and current events. Books were divided according to subject, and had call numbers written on the spines. Areas represented included encyclopedias (such as Encyclopedia Britannica), finding aids (such as an index to the papers of the House of Commons), education, law, literature, the arts, and history. Also represented was a large collection on London. Interestingly, I noticed several travel guidebooks in this collection, including one about dogs in the city. A full list of items on offer may be found at the Library's website.
In addition to books and journals I also noticed an intriguing section of leaflets. These included information about how to find such information as hospital records or even police officer records. I also picked up what appeared to be the first edition of a new Guildhall Library newsletter. It can be found online here. It includes notes on new acquisitions, events at the Library, and recent Library improvements. What a great way to reach out to users.
Photo courtesy of Library Marginalia.