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My grandparents will travel to London to stay with relatives for a few months, and plan to borrow books from the local (and NOT university) libraries.

Question

1) Am I right that each borough has its own library? See the map below.

2) If the answer to 1 is 'yes', where can I find a website that lists ALL the borough's libraries' websites, instead of Googling each borough?

3) Does the City of London (1 below on the map) have libraries? I do not grasp this: Wikipedia claims that The City is "not a London borough"?

4) Can books be transferred between libraries of different boroughs? For example, if City's libraries do not have a book, but Westminster borough's libraries do, can Westminster Borough's libaries loan it interlibrarially to City's libraries?

Although I grasp that anybody with proof of UK address is not confined to his/her borough's libraries and can register with any borough's libraries, it is much easier for my grandparents to request interlibrary loans instead of registering with and then travelling to 6 boroughs' libraries depending on which has the book.

Afterword: After the answer below taught me about the London Library Consortium (or LLC), I found a better map under that shows all the London boroughs, plus highlights the libraries in the consortium. This signposts all the individual libraries in the LLC.

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  • 2
    Usually in UK libraries you can request books that are not in the local or regional library system to be send to your local library, you usually do pay a little for the service and may have to wait a few weeks for it to arrive. You will then borrrow it as if it is a book from the local library and return it to the same location. I will as a friend who used to live in a London borough but he is not available this weekend. – Willeke Oct 1 '16 at 16:33
  • @Willeke Once I had a book flown in from the Singapore national library, ready for collection three days later, cost of £2. I was very impressed with the global interlending system. – Calchas Oct 2 '16 at 0:01
  • @pnuts Both, but my grandparents must check out the book, and not read the book at the library. – Tamara M. Oct 2 '16 at 18:17
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1.) Yes, every borough has, in most cases, more than one library.

2.) Here is a list of all the libraries in London: http://www.allinlondon.co.uk/directory/1272.php

3.) The City of London is just one of London's 33 local authority districts, but it's the only one that's not a borough (it has been administered separately since around the 9th century). But, just like all other districts, it too has libraries (see here: http://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/libraries-and-archives/our-libraries/Pages/default.aspx).

4.) As the previous answer stated, for libraries within the London Libraries Consortium, it's possible to do interlibrary loans, but else it's not.

  • 1
    It seems surprising that there are no "interlibrary loans" facilities outside the local group of libraries. My local (provincial city) library service has the option to get books from any library in the English region it is located in, from the British Library, and even from any library in the world - though unsurprisingly the fees increase at each of those levels. But even a loan from a foreign library is often cheaper than buying the book! – alephzero Oct 1 '16 at 19:22
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    I suspect that we're talking about different things. Within LLC, it may be possible to return to any library, in the same or a different borough; normally it is in the same borough. Outside, one would have to do a regular inter library loan (for a fee). – gerrit Oct 1 '16 at 20:42
  • @alephzero I have done interlibrary loans before from foreign libraries. The staff genuinely enjoyed arranging it and the book was ready for collection three days later. – Calchas Oct 2 '16 at 0:05
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  1. Aye and many.

  2. Here's a map of the London Libraries Consortium libraries.

  3. City of London libraries

  4. The London Libraries Consortium has 14 boroughs but not all of them so it's highly doubtful it's doable (or if doable then feasible) to do interlibrary operations outside of these 14. Within these 14 "able to borrow and return items to any libraries".

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The previous two answers are correct regarding the library system in the UK, but I feel I should warn you about the requirements about joining a library.

You usually have to be a permanent resident and proof will be needed to join a library, receive a library card and checkout (loan) books.

The City of Westminster requirements to join a library require you to bring along proof of address such as:

  • a recent utilities bill (last six months)
  • rent/child benefit/pension book
  • current driving licence
  • bank/credit card statement (last six months)
  • building society book.

You can still use the facilities of libraries if you are not a member, but you will be not be able to loan out any books. For Westminster libraries your grandparents may qualify for a short stay membership, but I am not sure what library benefits that will give them.

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