St Bride Library first opened its doors to readers in November 1895 and quickly established itself as one of the world’s most significant collections of books about printing, typography, paper-making and graphic design.

From the late 1950s, the collections expanded to include many of the physical objects of printing and type-founding, including presses, punches, matrices and type-casting equipment. Original artwork for Edward Johnsons London Undergroud designs may now be found alongside scale models for Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert’s UK road signs. Printed books include a substantial fragment of Caxton’s Consolation of Philosophy and William Morris’s Kelmscott Chaucer.

St Bride Library is also home to one of the world’s largest and most significant collections of type specimens, numbering some 10,000 catalogued items and many thousands more promotional pamphlets issued by type-founders. Over 200 Special Collections are held, including material relating to the American designer W A Dwiggins, English type-founders Caslon and Figgins, metal types from the Oxford University press representing many of the world’s languages and a substantial collection of broadsides published by James Catnach and William Fortey in the early part of the 19th century.

Reading Room re-opening

  • Following government guidelines, we will be opening the library on Wednesdays from 2 June, offering 3-hour slots (12:00-3:00 or 3:30 – 6:30pm), by appointment only.

    An appointment can be booked by emailing

    Due to limited space in the reading room and the need for social distancing, we are only able to welcome eight visitors per day. These places are allocated on a first come, first served basis.

    Changes to your library visit:

    • Visitors must book a 3-hour slot (either 12:00-3:00 or 3:30 – 6:30pm).
    • There will be a limit of 10 items per person to ensure we can retrieve your items on time and quarantine library materials.
    • Visitors must send their book list a week in advance so that staff have time to retrieve items.

    How we’re keeping you safe

    • We’ve limited the number of visitors who can access the reading room to ensure social distancing.
    • Staff will sit behind screens and wear masks.
    • All visitors will be expected to wear face masks, except for those with medical exemptions, at all times in the reading room, including when consulting material.
    • Library items will be quarantined after use for 72 hours.
    • Clear signage will appear throughout the building to guide you and remind you of social distancing measures.
    • Hand sanitiser and bathroom facilities will be available.

    If you would like to book a visit please email the library team stating your preferred date/time to visit which we will do our best to accommodate, and send you further information on your visit and what we are doing to make your visit COVID-19 safe.

    In the coming months we may adjust our processes and opening times as government guidance changes, and in response to feedback from researchers and staff.

    Access & Visitor Information

    A small fee (currently £1) is payable for items retrieved from our storage rooms (Closed Access) collections. Browse our online catalogue and send us a list of titles you wish to see at least 48 hours ahead of your visit. Please include the Title, Author or Corporate Author, Accession no. and Shelf Reference wherever possible.

    We welcome research and general enquiries and aim to respond within 10 working days. Before you submit an enquiry, you might find the answer in our online catalogue.

    Using the Reading Room

    • All new Readers are required to fill in a Library Registration Form.
    • All outerwear and bags must be left in a designated box.
    • No food or drink, except bottled water (at the Librarian’s discretion).
    • Pens are not permissible. Only pencils, laptops and tablets may be used.
    • Photography is permitted on purchase of a photography license (£5)


    At present our catalogue, which you can find here, shows mostly printed materials.

    Please contact the library team ( for further information about our Special Collections.

Enter a simple search here:

Alternatively a more structured exploration can be carried out using our online catalogue.