Malyn Newitt, formerly of King’s College London and Exeter University, was recently quoted, on the topic of the National Trust, as saying:

“We take care of historic houses, gardens, mills, coastlines, forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, nature reserves, villages and pubs – and then we open them up for ever, for everyone.”

Newitt continues to point out that while the National Trust’s work in this regard has been invaluable, one specific group has fallen short of being “open to everyone” – the books that are housed in their libraries.

Amidst the historic houses that have been preserved by the National Trust and made available to the general public are “140 historic libraries (around 230,000 books in 400,000 volumes)…Many are country house libraries, some collected by wealthy bibliophiles, others containing more practical everyday books, including rare provincial printing.”

The Trust’s Curator of Libraries has set out to catalog these collections, and concerted efforts are also underway to repair and conserve the books themselves. The Scholarly Kitchen brought this interesting topic to our attention in their article, “Public Access to Public Books: The Case of the National Trust.”

Melody K. Smith

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