|Items collected||Books, journals, official papers|
|Access and use|
|Access requirements||Access restricted to Members of Parliament and their staff|
|This article is part of a series on the|
| United Kingdom|
House of Commons
|House of Commons|
ContentsMPs for constituencies in Wales
|Virtual House of Commons|
The House of Commons Library is the library and information resource of the lower house of the British Parliament. It was established in 1818, although its original 1828 construction was destroyed during the burning of Parliament in 1834.
The library has adopted the phrase "Contributing to a well-informed democracy" as a summary of its mission statement.
The Library was established in 1818 and a purpose-designed library was built for it by Sir John Soane and completed in 1828. This building, along with much of the mediaeval Palace of Westminster, to which it was added, was destroyed by fire in 1834.
In the rebuilding of the Palace of Westminster by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, the Library was given four large rooms on the river front of the principal floor of the new palace, each 40 feet by 25 feet and some 20 ft high. This suite was fully opened by 1852, and two additional rooms added in the mid/late 1850s. One of these was to compensate for the loss of Room D, which was taken over by Speaker Denison and his successors as their private library (It was not restored until the 1960s).
The Library was stocked with some 30,000 books majoring in history, topography, literature, biography and politics, as well as the official papers of the House. Almost alone among contemporary parliamentary libraries, from about 1860 onwards, the staff were given free rein to determine the scope of the collection.
In 1945-46, the House of Commons reorganised its library on modern lines. A Research Division was created, to provide briefings to Members, and to answer their individual detailed enquiries on a confidential and non-partisan basis. A modern reference library was created in the former Map Room, which had been previously equipped with pull-down maps of all parts of the world.
The Public Information Office (now House of Commons Information Office), was set up in 1978, headed by Chris Pond under the oversight of David Menhennet.Menhennet also began electronic publication in the same year, when the Library contributed to the Prestel viewdata system. Computerisation of the Library's information systems began in 1979 with the creation of POLIS, the Parliamentary On-Line Information System.
The total holdings are about 350,000 print items, plus journals and official papers, together with extensive on-line and electronic sources. The Library is not a mandatory or copyright deposit library, unlike the British Library and the Library of Congress. Some of the older book stock was placed on permanent loan in 2004 with the British Museum, to populate the King's Library there (the original King's Library bookstock having been transferred to the British Library at St Pancras). It is the official custodian of the House's printed records.
In 2008 the Library was incorporated into the new Department of Information Services following a Review of Management and Services of the House of Commons conducted by Sir Kevin Tebbit. However, research, information and library services continue to be provided to Members of Parliament and their staff under the House of Commons Library banner. The Department of Information Services is also responsible for information services for the public including Parliament's Education Service, the House of Commons Information Office, Visitor Services and the Web & Intranet Service.
The Library provides four core services to the House, Members and their staff:
In 2011, the Library had 150 staff, and occupied premises outside the Palace of Westminster (principally the old Whitehall Club at no.1 Derby Gate) as well as within it. Many of the staff have specialist qualifications in, for instance, law, statistics, and various aspects of public affairs, or librarianship. Staff of the Library are not, and have never been, employed by the civil service; they serve, and provide completely impartial advice and analysis to, Members of Parliament.
Although Members of the House of Lords may by courtesy use the Library, the House of Lords has a separate Library (and equally fine set of rooms).
The Library is not open to the general public, though information about the history and work of the Commons can be supplied by the House of Commons Information Office. Arrangements can often be made for members of the public who wish to use resources of the Library not available elsewhere to have access to them in the Parliamentary Archives.
The following have served as Librarian:
The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body of the United Kingdom, the Crown dependencies and the British overseas territories. It alone possesses legislative supremacy and thereby ultimate power over all other political bodies in the UK and the overseas territories. Parliament is bicameral but has three parts, consisting of the sovereign (Crown-in-Parliament), the House of Lords, and the House of Commons. Both houses of Parliament meet in separate chambers at the Palace of Westminster in the City of Westminster, one of the inner boroughs of the capital city, London.
The Palace of Westminster serves as the meeting place for both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, the two houses of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Informally known as the Houses of Parliament after its occupants, the Palace lies on the north bank of the River Thames in the City of Westminster, in central London, England.
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The Parliamentary Estate is the land and buildings used by the Parliament of the United Kingdom.
The Palace of Westminster, the medieval royal palace used as the home of the British parliament, was largely destroyed by fire on 16 October 1834. The blaze was caused by the burning of small wooden tally sticks which had been used as part of the accounting procedures of the Exchequer until 1826. The sticks were disposed of carelessly in the two furnaces under the House of Lords, which caused a chimney fire in the two flues that ran under the floor of the Lords' chamber and up through the walls.
The State Opening of Parliament is an event which formally marks the beginning of a session of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It includes a speech from the throne known as the Queen's Speech.
Portcullis House (PCH) is an office building in Westminster, London, England, that was commissioned in 1992 and opened in 2001 to provide offices for 213 members of parliament and their staff. The public entrance is on the Embankment. Part of the Parliamentary Estate, the building augments limited space in the Palace of Westminster and surroundings.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS), known as Congress's think tank, is a public policy research institute of the United States Congress. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS works primarily and directly for Members of Congress, their Committees and staff on a confidential, nonpartisan basis.
In British politics, parliamentary select committees can be appointed from the House of Commons, like the Foreign Affairs Select Committee; from the House of Lords, like the Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee; or as a joint committee of Parliament drawn from both, such as the Joint Committee on Human Rights. Committees may exist as "sessional" committees – i.e. be near-permanent – or as "ad-hoc" committees with a specific deadline by which to complete their work, after which they cease to exist, such as the Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change.
The Library of Parliament is the main information repository and research resource for the Parliament of Canada. The main branch of the library sits at the rear of the Centre Block on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, and is the last untouched part of that larger building's original incarnation after it burned down in 1916. The library has been augmented and renovated a number of times since its construction in 1876, the last between 2002 and 2006, though the form and decor remain essentially authentic. The building today serves as a Canadian icon, and appears on the obverse of the Canadian ten-dollar bill.
The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) is the Parliament of the United Kingdom's in-house source of independent, balanced and accessible analysis of public policy issues related to science and technology. POST serves both Houses of Parliament.
The Parliamentary Archives of the United Kingdom preserves and makes available to the public the records of the House of Lords and House of Commons back to 1497, as well as some 200 other collections of parliamentary interest. The present title was officially adopted in November 2006, as a change from the previous title, the House of Lords Record Office.
The House of Commons Enquiry Service, formerly known as the House of Commons Information Office, is a section within the House of Commons Department of Information Services. The chief role of the office is to provide the public with information on the work, history and membership of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.
The House of Lords Library is the library and information resource of the House of Lords, the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It provides Members of the House and their staff with books, Parliamentary material and reference and research services.
While the United Kingdom does not have a codified constitution that is contained within a single document, the collection of legal instruments that have developed into a body of law known as constitutional law has existed for hundreds of years.
The Parliamentary War Memorial, also known as the Recording Angel Memorial, is a stone sculpture in Westminster Hall, unveiled in 1922, which commemorates the members of both Houses of Parliament of the United Kingdom who died in the First World War. It names 22 members of the House of Commons, 20 members of the House of Lords, and 9 senior members of staff, together with another 94 sons of members and officers of the House of Commons, who lost their lives in the war. Above the memorial is a large stained glass window which commemorates members and staff of both Houses who died in the Second World War.
David Menhennet CB was a British librarian. As librarian at the House of Commons Library from 1976 to 1991, he oversaw a period of modernisation and other improvements to the library, transforming the library into a modern research facility.
Roger Hugh Vaughan Charles Morgan was an English librarian who spent four decades in the Houses of Parliament. He is credited with modernising the House of Lords Library as head librarian from 1977–91.
David Lewis Jones was a Welsh librarian and historian who was the librarian of the House of Lords Library from 1991 to 2006.
The history of the Palace of Westminster began in the Middle Ages when it was used as a royal residence. The English Parliament of the United Kingdom has met there since 1295. The Palace burned down in 1834 and was replaced by the modern building.