The Lambeth Palace Library was established in 1610, the first public library in England. Today its collection has 200,000 printed books, of which 20,000 predate the Eighteenth Century. There are 5,000+ manuscripts, 600 dating to medieval time. There are also the archives of the Archbishops of Canterbury dating from the 9th Century. It is second to the Vatican Library in its size and importance as a collection of historic religious works of art and documents. This collection is currently divvied out among several buildings. Because of this it is difficult to provide the collection with the controlled atmosphere of temperature & humidity to preserve the pieces correctly and securely.
A new building has not been built at the Palace for over 180 years. But the decision has been taken by the Church Commissioners of England to build a new library and pull the entire collect safe and sound under one roof. The Commissioners have selected the married architectural firm of Claire and Sandy Wright. There wasn’t a design competition to select the Wrights, they were first selected from a long list of 40 firms who had submitted bids for the work and finally from a short list of 10 firms. They are expected to spend the next several months working with the Commissioners to develop a design plan as well as cost estimates. The intention is for the new library to be a “zero carbon Building” and that it will fit well with the architectural surrounding of the current Palace structures. The achieve that aim the Wrights will be collaborating with the award winning landscape firm of Dan Pearson Studio.