Welcome to the Catholic National Library

The Catholic National Library has over 70,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals including theology, spirituality and related subjects, biography, history (including Catholic Family History), and many works not freely available elsewhere. The reading room contains the reference stock, current journals, and back numbers of the most frequently consulted journals. There is also a rare collection of Catholic fiction.

The Catholic National Library currently houses MISSION REGISTERS which list baptisms, confirmations, marriages, deaths etc. dating back as early as 1694. These are typescripts and a few other printed books on loan from the Catholic Family History Society. The Library also houses the Thomas Merton Collection.

The Trustees of the Catholic National Library announce that the Library will be closed until further notice from Friday 27th June 2014. From this date it will not be possible to reply to emails, postal enquiries or telephone calls. Books already on loan may be returned by post. As soon as a decision has been made about the future of the Library an announcement will be made and the Trustees will write to members.



Building the Collection

LibraryAs members will know, the collection grows continuously both by purchase and donation. The annual spend is of the order of £3-5,000, depending on available funds, which translates into an average of about 30 new books a month. The Library's policy is to keep up-to-date with new and interesting publications in its field. For instance, the Library aims to stock all the best commentaries on scripture, obtaining latest editions wherever appropriate. Subject areas that are constantly updated include:

The coverage of the collection is also constantly being expanded, for instance recent additions include books on all the major religions. Over the years the Library has benefited from many donations of collections, some of very high quality. In a typical year we add about 1,000 good quality books from donated collections.


The opening hours of the Library are dependent on two things: the needs of visitors and the availability of volunteers to staff the Library. At the moment we have 4 volunteers and a growing number of visitors.


The Library has compiled a number of reading lists. The first lists were put together primarily for priests and religious as an aid to CONTINUING FORMATION. Click Continuing Formation for full information.


In June 2007 the Library changed its name from "Catholic Central Library" to "Catholic National Library". There were several reasons for this but the most important was to reflect more closely the Library's role as a national resource.

On-line Catalogue

Several years ago (in March 2000) we set about making the Library catalogue available on-line. Thanks to the huge amount of work by numerous volunteers we can say that the book catalogue is now available on-line. In the light of changes in technology and with the aim of making the catalogue sharable we are developing a plan to upgrade to a Library Information System with OPAC (members will be able to check their lending on-line). For a catalogue approaching 70,000 this will be a huge undertaking and will require a lot of support both financial and voluntary.