Collection KAL - LIBRARY: King's College London administrative records

Key Information

Reference code



LIBRARY: King's College London administrative records


  • 1830-1998 (Creation)

Level of description



175 boxes and volumes

Scope and content

The records of King's College London Library consist of committee minutes, correspondence, memoranda and other papers, 1830-1998. These include the principal Library Committee minutes and correspondence , 1871-1994; Library Resources Co-ordinating Committee (LRCC) minutes and papers, 1974-1993; Library Services Management Team papers, 1990-1994; minutes of the Strand Campus Users Committee, 1987-1990; minutes, correspondence, reports and memoranda concerning the strategic planning and general policy of the Library including Library Reports, 1987-1990, quinquennia, the University Grants Committee, building, mergers, individual campus libraries committee minutes and overall Library aims and objectives, 1925-1994; papers relating to grants, expenditure and finance, including invoices, 1933-1993; general papers concerning the day-to-day management of the Library including constituent libraries, Second World War disruption, security issues, noise, user/reader services, information retrieval and cataloguing, rare books and Special Collections, policy on periodical subscription, binding and repair, interlibrary loans, publicity and relations with the Students' Union, 1932-1995; correspondence with departments, faculties and schools concerning accessioning policies, 1934-1992; register of borrowers, 1845-1854, 1962-1968, and general correspondence with readers, 1946-1993; papers relating to Library equipment including automation, 1986-1992; papers on building and planning, including the Library Planning and Accommodation Sub-committee, notes on Strand libraries, Cornwall House, Manresa Road, Chelsea, and Hampstead sites, 1948-1993; papers relating to staff and staffing levels, including lists, appointments, appraisals, questionnaires, staff meeting minutes and establishment papers, 1933-1997; individual personnel records of Library staff, 1957-1998; manuscript and typescript Library catalogues and shelf lists, including the Marsden Library, 1830-1993; papers relating to stock, including stock checks and transfers, 1989-1994, accessions registers, 1847, 1932-1975, correspondence and registers of gifts and bequests, including the private papers of academics, 1898-1992, indexes to journals and serials, 1931-[1963]; 1986-1992; papers of Hedwig Pollock, rare book librarian, 1943-1967, including professional correspondence, detailed descriptions of very rare books and manuscript texts and some fragments from a 16th century volume; papers relating to the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives and Library, including correspondence with Trustees, minutes of the Trustees and external funding, 1959-1996; interlibrary co-operation and computerised data collection and librarianship including the Standing Conference of Librarians of Libraries of the University of London, Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL), British Library Research and Development Department, Monitoring and Assessment Research Centre (MARC), Arts and Humanities Data Service (AHDS), European Union Trans-European Mobility Scheme for University Studies (TEMPUS) and Standing Conference of National and University Libraries (SCONUL), 1955-1998.


Accruals have taken place at regular intervals and are on-going.

System of arrangement

A large part of the collection is divided into governance (Ref: KAL/GC), general administration (Ref: KAL/AD), and academic related files (Ref: KAL/AC). Most minutes (Ref: KAL/M, KAL/CMA/M), catalogues (Ref: KAL/CA), borrowing and accessions registers and indexes (Ref: KAL/BR, KAL/RG, KAL/RGJ, KAL/RGM, KAL/RGT) and personnel records (Ref: KAL/FP) are arranged in discrete series, but recent accessions contain a selection of minutes, correspondence, memoranda and reports and are arranged according to year of accession (Ref: 1995 KAL, 1996 KAL, 1997 KAL, 1998 KAL, 1999 KAL, 2001 KAL).

General Information

Name of creator


Biographical history

The Library at King's College was established in 1831 and at first comprised a General Library of mainly common reference works on science, law, literature and theology, which was located next to the College Chapel. A separate Medical Library was also established which was only accessible to medical students. During the course of time, semi-autonomous subject or departmental libraries grew up located close to their relevant departments, particularly in the arts and humanities, containing less general and more specific subject titles. These, however, remained under the overall responsibility of the College Librarian. The General Library was augmented from time to time by major bequests and gifts, such as that made by William Marsden in 1835; some of Marsden’s books were later transferred to the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies (SSEES) as part of a University of London-wide library re-organisation (King’s received books from the former library of the London Institution in exchange). An important bequest was made by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1875, and these additions at first remained discrete named collections occupying their own space within the College Library. Total holdings in the General Library were approximately 50,000 by 1958, with 90,000 in the subject or departmental libraries. By 1970, this had grown to 275,000 books in total. Shortage of space was temporarily alleviated with the relocation of a number of libraries to the new Strand Building when it was opened during the 1970s, a period during which individual departmental collections were integrated (exceptions included the Music Library). The merger of King's with Chelsea and Queen Elizabeth Colleges in 1985, added further library space, particularly at Manresa Road in Chelsea, at which was also located the College's Rare Books and Special Collections until the closure of the Chelsea campus, when it was moved to the College's Hampstead site. The merger of King's with the United Medical and Dental Schools (UMDS) in 1998 further added to the Library's holdings of medical books, while its traditional strength in theological literature was enhanced considerably by the acquisition in 1996 of the 65,000 book and journal Sion College Library. The purchase of the leasehold on the former Public Record Office building in Chancery Lane from 2001 allowed for the bringing together under one roof of the Old Library, Embankment, Humanities, Music and Special Collections libraries. These are focused on the humanities, including music, law and the physical sciences and engineering. South of the River, the Franklin-Wilkins Library caters for medical, nursing and midwifery students and students of the biological sciences, management and education. The libraries at Denmark Hill concentrate on medicine, social policy, mental health and health care policy, and those at Guy's and St Thomas's Hospitals on the teaching of medicine in general. The Library is now part of the division of Information Services and Systems (ISS) which also includes Computing and Information Technology and Archive Services. The latter includes the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, which was founded in 1964 and which built upon the College's reputation in the field of Military and War Studies.

Custodial history

King's College London Library

Conditions governing access

Administrative records are generally closed for 20 years except for published material and some committee and other minutes.

Files containing personal data are closed for 80 years and sensitive personal data for 100 years from the date of the most recent document in the file.

Where open, access is subject to signature of Reader's undertaking form, and appropriate provision of two forms of identification, to include one photographic ID.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copies, subject to the condition of the original, may be supplied from open material for research purposes only.

Requests to publish original material should be submitted to the Archives.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

Finding aids

A hand list outlining the contents of the collection is available in hard copy in the College Archives reading room.

Existence and location of originals

Off-campus collection

Please note: We require 7 days notice to retrieve this collection as part, or all of it, is held off-campus. Read more ›

Related materials

Material relating to the administration of the Library can be found in particular in the Secretarial and minute books series and among the records of the Principal's Office and Registry.

Related descriptions

Alternative identifier(s)

Place access points

Genre access points

Rules and/or conventions used

Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000.


Archivist's note

Entry compiled by Geoff Browell.

Accession area