Ref NoGSL/LIB
TitleLibrary Records
Date[1829]-present
LevelSeries
Extent42 volumes & 10 files
FormatDocument
DescriptionRecords of the Library of the Geological Society, [1829]-present, comprising:

Library accession registers, 1836-2006 [incomplete]; Catalogues and indexes to the Library collections, [1829]-1962; Library recommendations book, 1922-1939; Library ephemera, including greetings cards, newsletters and guides, [1970s]-present; Correspondence of the Librarian, 1917-2001. [note: all series incomplete]
Administrative HistoryThe Library of the Geological Society is considered to have been founded in 1809, when on 3 March of that year it was noted that 'presents have been made of some works on Geology and Mineralogy'. Much of the initial collection came through donations from Members and authors or exchanges with other organisations, and from the earliest period users could borrow material.

When the Society moved to Somerset House in 1828 the modest 1,000 or so volumes of the Library were housed in a single room. The Museum collections, on the other hand, were spread around the apartments, eventually taking up the entire second floor and part of the third as well as being displayed along the staircases and hall. However by the 1860s, the Library collection had multiplied at a far greater rate than the Museum, with books having to be housed in the Assistant Secretary's room, Meeting Room, Tea-Room and Council Room. Indeed by then, the Fellows considered the Library collections as being more important than the Museum. In 1869 (in preparation for the Society's move to Burlington House in 1874), the Museum collection was slimmed down and restricted to only those specimens which directly related to a published paper, however it still took up the majority of the second floor of the new apartments. As its use by Fellows gradually decreased, it was decided at the end of the 19th century that the Museum should be disposed of and the space be used instead to house the Library. Referred to as the 'Upper Library' (as opposed to the original 'Lower Library'), from 1911 it has been the main Library space for readers, housing the most heavily used material. Nowadays the Library collection consists of around 300,000 volumes of monographs, periodicals and textbooks.

The first 'Librarian' was Thomas Webster, who oversaw the Library alongside his duties as Keeper of the Museum, secretary, Journal editor, etc. William Lonsdale succeeded Webster in 1829, and the first extensive catalogues date from his tenure. On Lonsdale's final retirement in 1842, Edward Forbes took over the duties as Librarian and Curator, succeeded in 1844 by David Thomas Ansted. When Ansted's duties were revised, becoming Vice-Secretary, James de Carle Sowerby became Curator and Librarian between 1846-1848. There followed: James Nicol (1847-1850); Thomas Rupert Jones (1850-1862); Henry Michael Jenkins (1862-1868); William Sweetland Dallas (1869-1890); Louis Belinfante (1890-1916); C P Chatwin (1916-1919); Arthur Greig (1919-?1939); Emelyn Eastwood (1939-1946); Pamela Robinson (1946-1947); Miss A Barber (1947-1960); Mrs C E Nash (1960); Miss Ann M Paddick (1960-1962); Mrs J L Green (1962-1965); Mrs A M Tyler (1965-1970); Mrs Edeltraud Nutt (1970-1987).
Access ConditionsThe later files of the Librarian's correspondence are restricted as they contain information covered by the Data Protection Act. The other files are open. Access is by appointment only. Please contact the Archivist for further information.
LanguageEnglish
ArchNoteSource: Woodward, H B. 'The History of the Geological Society of London', London: Longmans, Green & Co, 1908; Herries Davies, G. 'Whatever is Under the Earth', London: Geological Society, 2007; Council Minutes (GSL/CM). Description by Caroline Lam.
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