Royal Library, Royal Collection

Contact details

Website: Email: Telephone: +44 (0)1753 868286

About the library

The current Royal Library was established by William IV (r.1830–37) in a series of three rooms adapted from Tudor and Stuart parts of the State Apartments at Windsor Castle. Earlier Royal Libraries were presented to the nation in 1757 by George II (the Old Royal Library) and in 1823 by George IV (the King’s Library). Both collections now form a core part of the British Library. At his accession, William IV had access to the private libraries of George III, and of George IV at Carlton House. Both kings were avid book collectors and their libraries contained a wide array of material. William IV brought these libraries together at Windsor and added to them considerably.

In 1860, the Royal Library was rearranged by Prince Albert and the then Librarian, Bernard Woodward. This project saw the Library organised by subject area. This arrangement remains in place to the present day.

The reign of Queen Victoria saw major additions to the Library. Subsequent Librarians oversaw the acquisition of new books from throughout the British Empire as well as the acquisition of historical material with Royal provenance or of particular historic interest.

The Royal Library continued to collect throughout the twentieth century and does so today. The Library’s collection has more than quadrupled in size since its reorganisation in 1860, and currently contains over 200,000 items, including many modern reference works, reflecting the work of the Royal Household, Royal Collection Trust and the particular interests of successive Librarians.

The local library catalogue is available online.

Accessing materials

Can I see live document availability on Library Hub Discover? No.

Can I obtain items via inter-library loan? No - this library does not participate in the inter-library lending scheme.

Can I visit the library to view materials? Yes - see the library's website for access details. If you wish to visit it is advisable to contact the library in advance, to ensure that they can accommodate you and that the material you need will be available.


Browse all of the Royal Library, Royal Collection records in Library Hub Discover here.