A big Happy Birthday to Westminster Reference Library! 90 years old! Opened to the public on 8th Oct 1928, the Central Reference Library as it was then known has continued to serve the public throughout its 90 years, morphing its way through the myriad information formats, books, magazines, microfiche, floppy disks, CDROMs etc and on into the age of the internet and world wide web… The library’s journey throughout the 20th Century and into the 21st reflects the evolution of the library as institution, in particular the curious beast that is the reference library, a rare breed now, almost extinct! Indeed the use of the word ‘reference’ in the library’s name is something of a misnomer as what were once purely reference and information services now includes lending, with the library focused on its special collections in Business, Law, Art & Design, and Performing Arts.
Current visitors enjoy access to characterful reading rooms with study spaces over three floors, an Exhibition space, free access to internet & pcs, free wifi, as well as access to books, magazines and newspapers, all complemented by the wealth of online resources also available via 24/7 Library. The library hosts regular events with a special programme of talks and workshops throughout October.
Even libraries benefit from having a USP these days and earlier this year the library was refurbished and its unique heritage brought to fore. Situated on what was the site of astronomer Isaac Newton’s house, the library’s architecture reflects the style of the original building. Plaques marking the site’s historical significance always adorned the foyer and the exterior, but now a portrait of Sir Isaac Newton and images of the telescope he invented along with his study decorate the foyer and stairwell. This decorative renovation was inspired by and designed to coincide with the Reach for Skies project, launched in May 2018, with the library now lending telescopes!
Tucked away off Leicester Square and behind the National Gallery, often people report only finding out about the library when passing by. Lending telescopes is already working to put the library on the map and reach new audiences. If you haven’t visited Westminster Reference Library recently or before, do come see us.
Our Celebration party is on Monday 8TH October, 11am – 3pm and everyone is invited!
There will be cake and crepes and an opportunity get to know the library better by taking part in a Cryptic Quiz which runs to the end of October. Full of clues about the library, its history and collections, you will be in with a chance to win theatre, concert, opera tickets, book tokens, and free access for 1 year for a lucky entrepreneur to exclusive KOMPASS Global B2B database.
No need to book, just turn up. Whether you’re a regular customer or first time visitor, we look forward to seeing you!