LSE Library has moved and grown with the School, proving itself to be a crucial ongoing service supporting research and teaching. The launch of our Digital Library is part of our vision for a library that remains true to its traditions while confidently moving on and providing new services beyond its walls.
- Liz Chapman, Director of Library Services
Beatrice Webb records in her diary for 26th March 1896 the moment her husband thought of establishing a library to complement the work of the London School of Economics and Political Science, and the efforts they went to in order to secure funding for its establishment
... A brilliant idea flashed across Sidney's mind. We needed, for the use of the students, books and reports - why not appeal to the Public to subscribe to a Library of Political Science? At first we thought we could get a millionaire to subscribe the whole amount on condition that he called it by his own name. In vain I flattered Passmore Edwards - in vain Sidney pressed poor Sir Hickman Bacon - in vain we wrote 'on spec' to various magnates. The idea did not impress them. So we decided to scrape money together by small subscriptions. Sidney drafted a circular; Hewins secured the adhesion of the Economists and then began a long process of begging letter writing. Sidney wrote to all the politicians, I raked up all my old ball partners and between us we have gathered together a most respectable set of contributors - a list which is eloquent testimony to our respectability!..
- Read Beatrice's original diary entry in the Related Material section opposite.
The Library has come a long way since then, and the launch of our Digital Library - through which we will collect, manage, preserve and provide access to our digital collections - is the latest milestone in our 115 year history. This first exhibition celebrates some of the other landmark moments from our unique and prestigious past, using documents and images from our rich collections to chart the Library's growth and development from 1896 to the present day.
Many of the items referenced on this page can be found in the library. If you are interested in finding out more, the links below will take you to the Library catalogue.
- A London bibliography of the social sciences : being the subject catalogue of the British Library of Political and Economic Science
- Laboratory of the social sciences
- Historical records of the London School of Economics and Political Science
- A.H. John, The British Library of Political and Economic Science: a brief history, 1971
- Ralf Dahrendorf, LSE: a history of the London School of Economics and Political Science 1895-1995, 1995
- LSE: a history in pictures