A private library

Guildford Institute Library

Guildford Institute Library

A history of the  Guildford Institute

A history of the Guildford Institute

One of the best kept secrets in Guildford is a private library, part of the Guildford Institute.

I happened to be passing by, saw the door was open, and walked in. I was welcomed with open arms. It was an open day for members and no one had turned up. A couple of members did then drop by to return books, pleased to find it was open. Then one member actually turned up for the open day.

Remember those old secondhand bookshops where no ever bought any books (probably why they no longer exist), but you could spend hours engaged in interesting conversations? If yes, then you have a pretty good idea of this little private library.

I happened to be in Guildford for an event that evening, part of the Guildford Book Festival. Open day in the private library could therefore be seen as a non-festival book event. I suggested that next year they become part of the official book festival, hold an open day for the public. You never know, they may even recruit a few new members.


The library holds an important collection of Victorian books. This also includes Victorian periodicals including Punch, The Illustrated London News, The Graphic, The Engineer and The Studio. The library also houses an important local history collection. The library is not though stuck in the past. Each month it adds the best in contemporary fiction, plus non-fiction and biographies.

The library is open to non-members, but only members may borrow its books.

Not content with one of the best keep secrets in Guildford, the Guildford Institute has two of the best keep secrets. The other is the excellent lunches served during term time.

Established in 1843, the Guildford Institute is now run by volunteers. Its library dates back to the 19th century. What was the original library, and now used for talks and lunches, often hosts exhibitions.

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One Response to “A private library”

  1. danceswithcrayons Says:

    Keith – Isn’t this something else? FOOD!! : )

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