About the Collection


The Hellenic Society, which was founded in 1879, began to build up a Library from 1880. The Roman Society, formed in 1910, also started a collection and ran it jointly with the Hellenic Society, but with separate accounts and ownership of the contents until 1950, when a Joint Library account was begun. The Institute of Classical Studies was founded as a post-graduate Institute of the University of London in 1953, from which time the two collections were housed and administered as one unit.


The Library consists of two major collections: that of the Institute of Classical Studies and that of the Joint Hellenic Society and Roman Society. Both collections have the location ICLASS with the status of the volume indicated as follows:
Reference for the Institute of Classical Studies Collection
Available / On Loan for the Hellenic and Roman Library collection The catalogue may be accessed using this link Library Catalogue

In 1958, when the Library moved to its previous premises in Gordon Square, the collection contained some 30,000 volumes. It now numbers almost 130,000 books and over 22,000 bound volumes of periodicals, thereby bringing the overall total to almost 152,000 volumes; of the c.1,500 periodical titles, c.690 are current, with new titles constantly added. The annual growth rate for books and periodicals combined is approximately 3,000 volumes. Most of the Library's stock is on open access.

The Library has an Adopt a book scheme starting at a cost of 30. Anyone wishing to learn more may download an Adopt a book form

The Institute has maintained responsibility for the primary collection of reference material, including dictionaries, encyclopaedias, corpora, excavation reports, first publications of papyri and inscriptions, and standard texts of ancient authors; it is also responsible for most of the Library's electronic resources.

The Societies have retained responsibility for the complementary collection of books, together with the slides collection.

Archives and Manuscripts

The Senate House Libraries, of which the Institute of Classical Studies Library and Joint Library of the Hellenic and Roman Societies is a part, has developed an electronic catalogue for archives and manuscripts. The ADLIB database complements the descriptions of printed books and periodicals on the libraries' Innopac catalogue and makes descriptions of more than 2,000 unique collections searchable online in one place for the first time.

The range of material listed on the catalogue is extraordinarily diverse, covering many different aspects of political, social, cultural and educational history over more than ten centuries. Highlights of the collections held at the Institute of Classical Studies include the journals, notebooks and sketches of two sets of pioneering explorers of the ancient world:

Details of the most important archives held by the Library can be found on the AIM 25 database.

Diaries, notebooks, sketchbooks and published works of Robert Wood and his colleagues, who journeyed through the eastern Mediterranean in the mid 18th century. For further details consult this listing. [Word document]

Travel diaries of Mabel and Theodore Bent who travelled in Greece and the Middle East in the late 19th century. Some material of interest to researchers in Classics and related disciplines can also be found in archives held by other libraries within the Senate House Libraries.

A bibliography relating to the Robert Wood Archive is available. Please email the library with enquiries.

The David Smith Mosaic Archive: In 1999 the Institute concluded an agreement with the Roman Research Trust to accept the deposition on long term loan of the David J. Smith Mosaic Archive. The Archive, which consists of books, periodicals, pamphlets, photographs and slides, represents the residue of a lifetime's research on ancient mosaics by David Smith, one of the foremost authorities on Roman mosaics. As such it constitutes an extremely valuable research asset. Books in the collection appear on the Library's catalogue. Financial contributions from the Roman Research Trust make it possible to keep the Archive holdings up-to-date by regular purchase of specialist mosaic publications and other suitable material. The Archive is housed as a separate collection within the Library and is available for consultation during opening hours. Please apply in advance to the Library office for access to the Archive.

Bibliographies and Indexes (non-automated)

The following are available for consultation in the library:

Index to British theses on classical and related topics (Since 1954, now ceased production)
Catalogue of published theses in the University of London Library (incomplete)
List of unpublished University of London theses on classical subjects (since 1954, deposited in the Institute of Classical Studies Library)
Union catalogue of Byzantine accessions in selected London libraries (1965-1990)
Index to articles in Festschriften held by the Library (to 1989)
Index to bibliographical articles in selected periodicals (classified)
Bibliographie Papyrologique (author to 1976, classified from 1997) (now superseded by electronic version)
Site and subject index to Swan Hellenic Cruise handbooks (incomplete)


The arrangement of the books is modified and refined from Bursian's Bibliotheca philologica classica, on the basis of which a classification scheme has been devised with its own numbering system. Click here for full details (80 pages) of the complete scheme. Most of the periodicals are arranged alphabetically by title.

A summary of the Library classification scheme is shown below:

Office: Loeb texts
60-70: Dictionaries
75-76: Christian Fathers
77: Teubner texts
78: Oxford texts
79: Bude texts
80-97: Texts and Criticism
98-99: Language and Literature
100-101: Papyrology and Epigraphy
102-116: Prehistory, Archaeology and Topography
117-119: Ancient History
120: Christianity, Judaism, etc.
121: Politics and Law
122-123: Religion and Philosophy
127: Science and Technology
128-135: Art
136: Numismatics
140-149: Bibliographies, Encyclopaedias, etc.
151: Modern Greek
152-153: Ancient Life
200-202: General Congresses, Collected Essays, Festschriften, etc.
203-206: Classical Studies
221-246: Maps and Atlases