Imperial War Museum Department of Printed Books

Department of Printed Books, Imperial War Museum
Lambeth Road, London SE1 6HZ

(020) 7416 5342


As above.

Hours of opening:

Mondays - Saturdays 1000 - 1700 (strictly by appointment)
Closed on Sundays, Bank Holidays and the Saturdays preceding Bank Holiday Mondays.
Also closed for Annual Stock Audit, usually in the last two full weeks in May – prior warning is given on the Museum website


Open to the public. No reader’s ticket system in operation. The Library simply requires a day’s notice of an intended visit. However, because some parts of the collection are stored off-site it is always advisable to make an appointment as far in advance as possible in order to avoid disappointment. An enquiry service operates on the above telephone number between 0900 and 1700, Mondays to Fridays, and written enquiries may be submitted via the Collections Enquiry Service links on the Museum’s website.

Reader places:

Normally 30, but extensive building work lasting until 2010 may result in lower availability of places.

Librarian in charge:

Richard Golland, BA Dip. Lib. MCLIP

Staff availabilty:

At all times the Library is open.


Author and subject catalogues; pre-1984 card; post -1984 computerised. 


Own scheme.


Approx. 150,000 volumes and 25,000 pamphlets; 15,000 maps; 15,000 volumes of periodicals.

Special collections or strengths:

The Museum illustrates and records all aspects of the two World Wars and other military operations involving Britain and the Commonwealth since 1914. The Department of Printed Books is a national reference library. The strength of the collection is its detailed coverage of the two World Wars, but there are also extensive holdings relating to more limited conflicts such as the Spanish Civil War.  The 1982 Falklands campaign is covered, as well as other post-1945 conflicts including those in Korea, Afghanistan, the Middle East and Vietnam.  Material is also available concerning the peace-keeping role of the United Nations generally and of British forces in particular.  As well as the purely military aspects, the collection reflects the growing interest in the economic, literary, social and political impact of war. 

The Library has an outstanding collection of British, French, German and American unit histories, including published histories of Armies down to Battalion level, of Navies down to individual ships and of Air Forces down to Squadrons.

The pamphlet collection includes examples of wartime leaflets, Army forms, identity cards, ration books and other ephemera.

Special collections include the reports of the United States Strategic Bombing Survey, a vast number of aerial leaflets and unique material relating to British women's involvement in the First World War. 

However, please note that the extensive building work mentioned above will involve the relocation of large parts of the Library’s collection, and a concomitant reduction in their availability until the end of 2010.

The Library is also responsible for the United Kingdom National Inventory of War Memorials: see for a service which includes an online database of more than 55,000 war memorials in the UK.

To buy reprints of items from the Library’s collection, see

In addition to the holdings of the Department of Printed Books, the Imperial Museum’s collections comprise films, sound recordings, photographs, unpublished documents, art works and three-dimensional exhibits. Details are given on the Museum’s website.