Gibson Library (formerly Saffron Walden Town Library) is the name now given to the Library of the Saffron Walden Literary & Scientific Institution. The Institution was started in 1832, and in its early years it lacked a permanent home. It eventually moved into its present premises at 2 King Street, taking the room above what was then the Post Office and Savings Bank. Thanks to the generosity of the Gibson family it subsequently acquired the whole building. Since 1967 the Library has been operated as a Charitable Trust by Essex County Council. A more detailed history of the Library is available on this site.

Gibson Library sign

The Gibson Library contains more than 25,000 volumes, and is a major resource for the study of the Victorian and Edwardian periods. It contains many interesting and unusual volumes, reflecting the tastes and interests of its Victorian members, although the earliest item in the Collection dates back to the middle of the 14th Century. Readers interested in more information about the subjects covered in the Library, or wishing to visit should read the web page on the Victorian Studies Centre which includes details of opening times.

The Gibson Library Society exists to promote and support the Gibson Library. It organises a regular programme of talks and visits. For further information about the Society click here.

Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund

© Gibson Library Society, 2004 & 2022

How well do you know the Gibson Library?

That's what the Gibson Library Society is asking local people in Saffron Walden and the surrounding villages. The Gibson Library is an historic, independent library in Saffron Walden, based in the same building as the Public Library on the Market Place. Often described as 'a hidden gem', the Society is trying to find out just how many people are aware of the cultural treasure on their doorstep.

Founded in 1832, the Library has a rare and historic reference collection of some 25,000 books along with 15,000 contemporary books which can be borrowed and many items of local significance including maps and photographs. Treasures include medieval illuminated manuscripts and books on birds, botany and travel with wonderful illustrations. The Gibson Library is open to all, free of charge and visitors are welcome in the Victorian Reading Room on the first floor of the Public Library building on Market Square.

The Gibson Library Society exists to support the Gibson Library and is fundraising for a major project which they hope will raise awareness of the Library through financing a new website, a digital catalogue and digitising the most important and rarest items in the collection to make them more widely accessible. To be able to judge the success of the project, they need to know how many people know about the Library and its collections now.

Questionnaires have been placed in the ECC Public Library, at the ERO Access Point, at the Saffron Walden Museum and in the Tourist Information Centre. It is also possible to complete the survey online by scanning this QR code.
QRC June 2022
This will open a web page with some information about the Gibson Library followed by a set of questions. We would really appreciate it if you could respond as we need to add some genuine user feedback to our funding grant applications.