National Trust libraries
Image of the Library at Dunham Massey.
Copyright: NTPL/Andreas von Einseidel
About the library
The National Trust owns 140 historic libraries (around 230,000 books in 400,000 volumes), generally preserved in the places where they were originally assembled and read. Many are country house libraries, some collected by wealthy bibliophiles, others containing more practical everyday books, including rare provincial printing. Other collections reflect the interests of middle-class readers; some were assembled by literary figures, such as Kipling and Shaw. Together these libraries provide an unparalleled resource for the study of the history of private book ownership in Britain and Ireland. Our cataloguing project is ongoing and approximately 155,000 books have so far been catalogued. Please contact us if you would like to know whether work has been done on a particular collection.
Mark Purcell, Libraries Curator, has prepared a gazetteer of the National Trust's principal libraries, listing the principal book collections, which is available online.
To search for holdings at a single National Trust location, go to the 'main' search tab, and chose 'National Trust' from the list of libraries. Enter the name of the library you want to search as a keyword. It doesn't have to be the full name- eg to search for holdings at Wimpole Hall you can enter keyword 'Wimpole'. Click on the title of the item in the search list to see the full record, and then 'National Trust' in the list of holding libraries. This will show you copy-specific information. See the gazetteer for details of which libraries are catalogued online.
Please note that the Trust has no reprographics department and few digital reproductions of our holdings. While it may be possible to arrange photography, this will usually take some time, owing to the scattered nature of our collections. Enquirers are therefore encouraged to request photocopies and photographs from more conventional libraries where possible, to avoid unnecessary delay and expense.
Can I see live document availability on Copac? No
Can I obtain items via Inter-Library Loan? No, items are reference only.
Can I visit the library to view materials? We are happy to arrange for visitors to consult items in our properties, but this is strictly by appointment only. It is not possible to arrange access by contacting the property directly: please email or write to the Libraries Curators. We will do our best to arrange an appointment as soon as possible, but some delay may be unavoidable. While the Trust welcomes reseachers, for staffing reasons we strongly encourage prospective researchers who wish to access books for their texts to do so in more conventional libraries when possible, and we reserve the right to refuse access to material which is easily available elsewhere. Our records on Copac do, however, include detailed information on provenance, annotations and bindings, which are often the features which give the Trust's books their special interest
How do I find primary source material held at this institution? The majority of family archives from Trust properties are on permanent deposit in the appropriate County Record Office, while other archives are deposited in the Bodleian, Cambridge University Library and the National Library of Scotland. For details, see the National Register of Archives. The Trust Libraries section retains substantial research files on all its libraries, including reports and surveys, copies of historic catalogues and sale catalogues, abstracts and notes from archival material, and acquisitions files, and there is a substantial published literature on them; researchers are welcome to enquire for details. The National Trust Photo Library includes many photographs of books and libraries.
Records for manuscripts (including music and maps) held in the libraries have been added to Copac. Medieval manuscripts are listed in N.R. Ker. Medieval manuscripts in British libraries.
For information on the Trust's own organisational archive, including annual reports, property guides collection, committee minutes, property acquisition files and Trust published literature contact our Records and Archives Advisor at Heelis.
For information about National Trust locations, please see the Interactive Map on their website.
National Trust data on Copac
Example record from the National Trust:
Cunradi Mauseri, Noribergensis, JCti ac Professoris quondam in alma Witebergensi Academia Celeberrimi, Tractatus juridicus De nuptiis theoretico-practicus : ob varias ex jure civili, Saxonum, feudali & canonico depromptas, & accuratè decisas quaestiones, utilissimus, inprimis ad tit. X. Instit. lib. I. accomodatus; nunc verò, propter defectum exemplarium, post seculum & quod excurrit, à prima editione in multorum usum & emolumentum commodiori in libros atque capita ordine renovatus, ac, praeter annexa schemata, computationi graduum secundum jus civile & canonicum eò rectius intelligendae inservientia, additis variis ad textum notis, etiam quibusdam marginalibus, ac paragraphis per numeros signatis, nec non terminis notabilioribus diversis à textu literis expressis, praefatione item, uti & indice extenso auctus / cura & studio Casparis Questelii, ...
Published: Jenae : Typis Joh. Nisl M DC LXXXII. 
You can browse all the titles on Copac starting with the above title.