The Shaw Library is a library and common room for the entire LSE community.
The aim of the library is to encourage students to widen their interests by handling and reading books on subjects not included in the school curriculum. The library holds a generous stock of English language fiction classics through to modern book prize winners, as well as significant collections on poetry, biographies, plays, art, architecture, sport, music and travel guides. There are also a number of newspapers and serials available for reading in the library.
The library has a pleasant ambience, comfortable armchairs and is a haven of retreat for many (although it is not intended for serious study by students). The library also has a large roof terrace which is great for the summer months. The library can be booked for events although there are restrictions, please see The Shaw Library.
The Founders Room where the Shaw Library is based is also used for in-term classical concerts and evening performances. These are an annual series of professional lunch hour concerts, open to the whole LSE community with free admission. Details of which can be found on the arts website.
Music Practice Room
An adjoining music rehearsal room is available. For more details about using and booking the music practice room please click here.
There are numerous significant artworks in the Shaw Library, including a large painting of Sidney and Beatrice Webb and a Fabian window.
Painting by Sir William Nicholson 1872-1949. Located above the fireplace.
Sidney and Beatrice Webb, in an interior with their dog beside a fire. Oil on canvas 1928.
Window by Caroline Townsend 1878- 1944. Stained glass window design commissioned by George Bernard Shaw for the Fabian Society in 1910.
The window was originally stolen from Beatrice Webb House in 1978 but was recovered in 2005 by the Webb Memorial Trust and is on long term loan to the LSE. The window depicts Shaw, Sidney Webb and ER Pease (secretary of the Fabian Society) helping to build the new world. They are in Elizabethen dress which was to poke fun at Pease who loved everything medeival. The people depicted at the bottom were leading members of the Society.
More information is available at A piece of Fabian history unveiled at LSE.
A brief history of the Shaw Library
Charlotte Shaw (wife of George Bernard Shaw, a founder of LSE) expresses interest, during a meeting with Sidney and Beatrice Webb (also founders of LSE), Alexander Carr-Saunders (LSE Director 1937-57) and Walter Adams (LSE Secretary 1938-46), in their proposal for a library of general literature
June 1939 – Charlotte Shaw makes a £1,000 endowment towards the library, to be used for the purchase of books
Charlotte Shaw states the endowment is for the 'teaching of culture and good manners'
July 1939 – the Shaw Library is founded
Before the name the Shaw Library is agreed upon, the Students Recreation Library is suggested
First book catalogued 12 November 1940
The Shaw Library is officially opened December 1940
The Shaw Library was located temporarily in LSE's war-time buildings at Cambridge
The Founders Room (where the Shaw Library is now located) and the whole of LSE is occupied by the government during the War
January 1946 – The Shaw Library opens in its permanent location in the Founders Room
2005 - Fabian Window installed
Loans from the Shaw Library
The Shaw Library stock can be borrowed by LSE staff and students
Up to four items may be loaned for up to three weeks
Please fill in one of the borrowing slips and place it in the post box: A member of staff will collect them and acknowledge your loan by email
When you have finished with an item please just place it in the blue returns box near the borrowing point: a member of staff will process that it has been returned and will re-shelve it
The Founders Room is located on the 6th Floor of the Old Building and is open:
Monday to Friday: 9am – 10pm
Saturday and Sunday: 10am – 6pm*
*The room is closed on weekends during the vacation periods