St Bride Library opened as a technical and academic collection in 1895 and has grown dramatically since. With an archive of over 50,000 books ranging all the way from Dr Johnson's Dictionary, to classics on printing technique, visual style and calligraphy, our expert staff will ensure you find exactly what you are looking for.

The Library's events schedule includes evenings for print enthusiasts in all sectors, run by print industry experts.


From its inception, the Library has served the printing trade - but it also contains a vast collection of typographic literature, thanks to the addition of the library of William Blades, master printer and author of a study of William Caxton. Other important collections were added, including that of Talbot Baines Reed, a type founder and historian, and John Southward, a technical print journalist. These initial purchases gave the Library the basis to compile an excellent compilation of early printing techniques and examples, as well as unrivalled collections of catalogues, prospectuses and specimens.


The closure date for St Bride Library has now been confirmed. The Reading Room will close at 6pm on Wednesday 17th December 2014 until further notice.

Although a start date for the redevelopment of Fleet House has yet to be announced, we will use the period of closure to undertake essential conservation, care, and management of library stock. This work is absolutely essential if library stock is to be packed for transportation and storage, as we wish our holdings to be in the best possible condition before they are removed from site. The closure also provides a unique opportunity to review our entire stock and to provide better storage conditions for items which are currently held on open shelving. All of this preparation is being done so that the Library may re-open with much improved access and better facilities to support research and education. The Foundation wishes to emphasise that this closure will be a positive step forward for St Bride Library.

A team of eight conservation volunteers from NADFAS (The National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies) will be joining the library in January. This will ensure that items which cannot be fully conserved quickly and affordably will be stabilised and stored correctly.

All pre-booked appointments after the closure date, made prior to this announcement, will be honoured and we will continue to provide appointment-only access for those with ongoing research, for as long as it is practical to do so. No new appointments can be accepted at the present time, although this decision will be reviewed at regular intervals following closure.

Whilst the reading room doors are closed we will have regular exhibitions and evening events and talks. This will ensure that the library will continue to be a very active cultural and historical establishment. For 120 years the library has been the jewel in the crown of the St Bride Foundation and we hope it will remain so for many years to come.

You will be able to find regular updates on the library via our social media outlets and website:





For any personal enquiries, feel free to contact us by email at



We welcome all to the library, including higher education visits. We can tailor visits to appeal to your preferred subject and, over a two-hour tour, can cover topics such as printing type styles, construction of a common press, wooden vs iron presses, ink making, or even an introduction to typography. If your preference is towards the Foundation as a whole, we can provide a tour of the building, its place on Fleet Street, and the history of the charity in general.

This tour costs £20.00 per person.

If you would prefer something shorter, we offer a 45-minute talk that will leave you with the background of the Foundation, and how the building has supported the print industry over the years. A walking tour accompanies this talk. £5 per person.

Please do not hesitate to call or email us to arrange a more personalised tour.
Telephone – 020 7353 3331
E-mail –


Here at St Bride Foundation, we rely on our Friends of the Library to enable us to purchase rare books for our ever-growing archive - support us.

Does this sound up your street? For just £35 per year, you can be a Friend too. Not only will your donation allow us to continue to preserve and update our collection but also you will receive all the perks of being a Friend, including discounted entry to our event programme, our bi-annual journal, 'Ultrabold' and our quarterly newsletter, 'Print History News'. For further information on how to make a donation, email us or call on 0207 353 4660.

africa boards

35 postcards of images, on the theme of Africa, taken from the original artwork contributed by Fellows and Licentiates of Designer Bookbinders to the Africa Board Collection – a project in support of the Ethiopian Heritage Fund.

The original boards made a stunning exhibition together with Ethiopian artefacts in September.

There are still some of the limited edition box sets of the postcards available from St. Bride Foundation.

UK price £17.80 incl.p&p

Europe price £18.70 incl.p&p

USA & rest of world price £19.75 incl.p&p



Today, St Bride Library’s collections cover all aspects of printing—paper and binding; graphic design, typography, typefaces and calligraphy; illustration and printmaking; publishing and bookselling; and the social and economic side of printing and its allied trades. We continue to develop our position as the definitive source for typographic information and the world’s foremost printing, technical and graphic arts library.

With printing technology changing at an unprecedented pace, our collections provide an increasingly important focal point both for the modern industry, and for the study of the traditional means by which words and images have been reproduced and distributed.


This list shows only the top 100 main subject headings in the Library.

Codes refer to the intensity with which we aim to collect each subject. Refer to the interactive key.

Advertising 3E
Alphabet [history] 4F
Art history [general] 1E
Art of the book 4F
Author/reader relations 2E
Book collecting 3F
Book design 4F
Book illustration 2F
Book trades bibliography 4F
Bookbinding 4F
Bookselling technique 4E
Book trade history [GB] 4E
Book trade history [USA] 3E
Book trade history [rest of the world] 2F
Calligraphy 3F
Children’s books in general 2F
Colour science 2E
Conservation 3E
Copying and duplicating 4F
Copyright, industrial property law 3E
Dictionaries of printmakers 3F
Early colour printing 4F
Editors and journalists [England] 3E
Electrotyping 5F
Enumerative bibliography 1E
Ephemera 3F
Flexography 5F
Eric Gill 4E
Graphic design 3E
Graphic design [handbooks] 4F
Graphic designers 3E
Graphic reproduction 4F
Gravure 5F
Historical bibliography 4F
Illustration 2F
Ink and rollers 4F
Journalism 3E
Law of the press 3F
Legibility and physiology of reading 3E
Letterforms 4F
Letterpress 5F
Libraries 1E
Literacy [history] 3E
Lithography [history] 4F
Lithography [industrial] 5F
Management [in subject] 4E
Manuscript illumination 2E
Mensuration and calculation [in subject] 5F
Minor printing processes 5F
Miscellaneous biography [in subject] 3E

Music printing 4F
News agency history 4F
Newspaper history [general] 3F
Newspaper history [England] 4E
Newspaper history [not England] 2F
Newspaper technique 4F
Non-Latin Scripts 4F
Numerals 3F
Office copying 3E
Ornament 2E
Packaging design 3F
Packaging technique 3E
Paper [as product] 4F
Papermaking 4F
Papermaking by hand [modern] 3E
Papermaking materials 3F
Patent abridgements [in subject] 4E
Pattern paper 3F
Photoengraving 4F
Photography 1E
Posters 3F
Printers’ manuals 5W
Printers’ manuals for amateurs 5F
Printing history [general] 5F
Printing history [Britain] 5F
Printing history [other countries] 4W
Printing machinery [historical] 4F
Printing science 3E
Printmaking 3F
Private presses 5F
Publishing technique 4E
Screen process 5F
Shorthand 4F
Signs and symbols 3F
Social question [in subject] 4F
Stationers’ Company history 4E
Stereotyping 5F
Textile printing 3F
Trade literature 4F
Trade union history [in subject] 4F
Type and composition 5F
Type specimens 5W
Typefaces 5F
Typefounding 5F
Typographic style manuals 4F
Vocabulary [in subject] 5F
William Morris 4E
Wood engraving [history] 3F
Works for children [in subject] 3E


Click on a level to highlight matching subjects

1: Minimal Level a subject area in which few selections are made beyond very basic works

2: Basic Information Level a collection of up-to-date general materials that serves to introduce and define a subject and to indicate the varieties of information available elsewhere.

3: Instructional Support Level a collection that is adequate to support undergraduate instruction, or sustained independent study; that is, adequate to maintain knowledge of a subject required for limited or generalised purposes, of less than research intensity.

4: Research Level a collection that includes the major published source materials required for dissertations and independent research.

5: Comprehension Level a collection in which the Library endeavours to include all significant works of recorded knowledge. Language

Click on a level to highlight matching subjects

E: Principally English-language material

F: Principally a mixture of English and or other European languages

W: Material in European and non-European languages


The collections at St Bride Library fall into two classes: general and special collections. A cross-section of the Library's vast number of books is available in the reading room on open shelves. The holdings of works in English are comprehensive, and the history and practice of printing and the book trade in other countries are well represented. There are extensive collections of examples of the work of notable printers, of illustration processes, of text composition, and of the use of special types.

Current issues of many of the Library's periodicals are available in the reading room on open shelves. They range from the major British and overseas technical journals, to journals of graphic design, printing and book trade history, bibliography, and craft printing and binding. The Library also holds many more titles, including trade directories and many rare and out-of-print periodical publications, often unavailable elsewhere.

The Library offers a number of titles on CD-ROM, including the PIRA PaperPrinting & Packaging database.

An appointment should be made for the use of long runs of periodicals, material on microfilm or fiche, early printed books, manuscripts and special collections. To make an appointment, contact the Library.


There are about 50,000 books and pamphlets in the general collection with periodical and directory literature comprising around 3,500 titles. There is a near comprehensive collection of the core subjects in English, and a strong compilation of works in other languages. Material in the general collection can be found in the Library’s online catalogue here.


There are nearly 200 special collections comprising discrete groups of material, archives from trade bodies or companies, collections on particular topics, or specialized forms of material — valentines, for example, or examples of early filmset text — and there are also manuscripts and drawings. Items in the special collections are not included in the Library’s online catalogue, but are found through calendars and list. Please see below for a representative list of special collections.

  • Almanacs, 160 London almanacs from the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • Broadsides, 1,150 broadsides and ballad sheets from the 19th century, many printed by James Catnach
  • British Printing Industries Federation, several hundred minute books and other records of local master printers’ associations and their alliances.
  • Butler shorthand collection, An extensive collection of shorthand manuals from the 17th to 20th century, mainly in English, together with shorthand periodicals and general literature on the subject.
  • Caslon Foundry, 1,051 boxes of punches from the typefoundry begun by William Caslon with original inventories, albums of smoke proofs etc.
  • Chapbooks, 260 chapbooks, songbooks and reciters, mainly British, dating 1750–1900.
  • Chiswick Press, 2,600 woodblocks by Mary Byfield, plus punches, matrices and type for the proprietary founts of the press.
  • Computer Typesetting Research Project, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, the records of this government-funded investigation into new methods of composition.
  • W A Dwiggins collection, books, pamphlets and ephemera designed by William Addison Dwiggins.
  • Ephemera, 6,000 pieces including valentines, greetings cards, trade labels, menus, handbills, posters
  • Figgins Foundry, boxes of punches, matrices, and other typefounding equipment, plus legal documents of patents and articles of association, and miscellaneous correspondence.
  • Gill collection, sketches and rubbings of inscriptions, pamphlets by and about Gill, sketches, proofs and specimens of type and book designs, photographs, posters, calendars and other examples of Gill’s work.
  • Charles Griffin & Co Ltd, company literature and correspondence, plus 165 packets of late 19th century wood engravings.
  • Kinnear and Calvert road signs, original maquettes by Kinnear and Calvert for the current British road-transport signs.
  • Letraset, 164 boxes of hand-scribed master letterforms for typefaces.
  • Macmillan & Co Ltd, 28 albums of advance specimen pages for publications.
  • Newspaper Publishers Association, 239 files of papers recoding the work of the NPA from 1906–1975.
  • Oxford University Press, 170 cases and 950 packets of printing type from the 17th to 20th centuries, mostly cast at Oxford for printing western and oriental languages, including those known as the ‘Fell’ types.
  • Portraits, a collection of engravings, lithographs and photographs from 16th to 20th centuries depicting personalities in the printing and publishing trades
  • Printers Charitable Corporation, subscription records, accounts, deeds and other archives of the PCC from 1827 to 2000.
  • Printing Trades Alliance, minutes, annual reports and accounts of the PTA, 1918–89.
  • Trade documents, two substantial collections of early printing-trade ephemeral documents mainly concerning industrial relations.
  • Trade literature, extensive collections of literature on trade exhibitions, conferences and competitions; printing ink trade literature; bookcloth trade literature; printers’ and auxiliary services’ trade literature; printing; printing machinery and suppliers trade literature.
  • Type specimens, a major collection of nearly 10,000 items, books, pamphlets and single-sheet specimens. The collection of British type specimens is the largest in existence.
  • Lawrence Wallis collection, large collection of papers on type-setting developments form the traditional technologies through photo-setting to the year 2000.
  • Beatrice Warde collection, drafts, typescripts and texts of published work by Beatrice Warde, publicity manager of the Monotype Corporation and editor of the Monotype Recorder.


St Bride Library was opened in 1895. It was both a technical library and printing school; the school eventually moved out and is now the London College of Communication.

The view from St Bride, 1899

From the beginning the Library served the printing trade but was also a great collection of typographic literature that incorporated the library of William Blades, master printer and author of a study of William Caxton. Other important collections were added, including those of Talbot Baines Reed, a type founder and historian, and John Southward, a technical print journalist. These initial purchases gave the Library the basis of an excellent compilation of early printing, as well as unrivalled collections of catalogues, prospectuses and specimens.

William Blades

Please make your initial contact via email to



Please contact our events team either

  • via our page on EventBrite or
  • by phoning us on (020) 7353 3331 (outside the UK: +44 20 7353 3331).


It is extremely helpful if we have a written record of your enquiry from the first point of contact – not only for record keeping but also to simplify lengthy and complicated research requests.

Please make your initial contact via email to

You may also contact the library staff by leaving a message on our voicemail (020) 7353 4660 (outside the UK: +44 20 7353 4660). The library telephone is not answered directly. It is a message only service.

Alternatively, write to us at:

St Bride Library
Bride Lane
Fleet Street
London EC4Y 8EE



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Shepherds at St Bride Foundation

We have teamed up with the well-known firm of Shepherds Bookbinders who have been successfully running bookbinding classes in London for the last fifteen years.

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  • “What gunpowder did for war the printing press has done for the mind.”


Print Heritage Partner


St Bride Foundation was built more than 100 years ago to server Fleet Street’s burgeoning print community.

Now, it needs your help to preserve its extensive library and unrivalled collection of artefacts, publications, typefaces and a dating back to the very origins of the printing industry.



Unique weddings and civil partnership
services at the St Bride foundation

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