the poetry library

About us

What is the Poetry Library?

  • The most comprehensive and accessible collection of poetry from 1912 in Britain
  • It is the major library for modern and contemporary poetry funded by the Arts Council England
  • Poetry is available in many formats: books, pamphlets, audio cassette, CD, video and DVD for reference and loan; magazines, press cuttings, photographs, posters and postcards for reference. See our links pages for our pick of web-based poetry
  • The Poetry Library is the home of, an ever-growing full-text database for UK poetry magazines of the 20th and 21st centuries
  • There are comprehensive education and children's sections
  • The Poetry Library promotes the reading of poetry for people of all ages, cultures and backgrounds in collaboration with Learning and Participation


  • The library contains 200,000 items and is growing all the time
  • We acquire two copies of each book and audio title, one for reference and one for loan
  • We aim to stock all poetry titles published in the UK with a representation of work from other countries including work in parallel text and English translation
  • An exhibition space featuring works by artists engaging with the Library's collection, text and poetry in general, and projects and events at Southbank Centre
  • The librarians meet once a month to consider self-published and small press items for the collection and will always respond to those who submitted something for consideration

Opening Hours

  • Tuesday - Sunday, 11am - 8pm
  • The Library is closed to the public on Mondays

Membership and Lending

  • The Poetry Library is free to join for all members of the public on display of current ID with proof of address e.g bank statement, utlity bill, driving licence etc
  • The Poetry Library is part of the national inter-lending service, so the loan collection is available via the public library network
  • There is a postal loan service for members with sight problems
  • Other members may return loan items in the post

Information Service

The Poetry Library can help you with all aspects of information on modern and contemporary poetry

We can help with:

  • Bibliographical and biographical details
  • The unique web-based catalogue of the Poetry Library's holdings searchable via author, title, subject, genre, publisher, and available as part of this web site
  • Tracking lost quotations and publications
  • Access to web-based reference and full-text resources
  • Contact information on publishers, magazines, competitions, websites, events, writers' groups available to visitors of the library, web site and via the post (with SAE)


  • The Poetry Library was founded in 1953 by the Arts Council
  • It moved to Level 5 of the Royal Festival Hall in 1988

Contact Details

Telephone number: 020 7921 0943/0664

Postal Address:
Poetry Library
Level 5
Royal Festival Hall
London SE1 8XX


Chris McCabe

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