Who We Are

The beginning

Philip Ward, then an eighteen year old student librarian, founded our Association in May 1956, writing a letter to The Observer suggesting the formation of a society for ‘private librarians’. The response was considerable, and the opening meeting was held soon after, on 8 June, at the St Ermin’s Hotel, Westminster. An exchange scheme was started that same year and the twelve-page PLA Quarterly  was published in 1957 (its name changed to The Private Library in 1958).



Today the Private Libraries Association boasts 450 individual members and upwards of 100 institutional subscribers. Members are scattered worldwide, with the majority in Britain but a good number in the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe.

Members’ collecting interests are most diverse – including private presses, illustration, binding and restoration, book history, bibliography and much more. Members’ specific interests are analysed in ten double-column pages in the Members’ Handbook – ranging from A. E. (G. W. Russell) to Zapf, Herman and covering every other possible subject that one can imagine.


Our governance


Giles Mandelbrote

Past Presidents: Dr Reinhold Regensburger 1956-60, D. J. Foskett 1961-63, Dr Desmond Flower 1963-64, Percy H. Muir 1964-65, J. Rives Childs 1965-68, Sir Arthur Elton Bt 1968-71, Raymond Lister 1971-74, Ruari McLean 1974-77, Douglas Cleverdon 1977-80, Dr Glyn Tegai Hughes 1980-83, Dr William B. Todd 1983-86, John Russell Taylor 1986-89, Peter Eaton 1989-92, Dr Iain Bain 1992-95, Robin de Beaumont 1995-98, B. C. Bloomfield 1998-2001, Colin Franklin 2001-04, Dame Lynne Brindley 2004-07, Keith Fletcher 2007-13 


Members of Council

Kayleigh Betterton, David Butcher, David Chambers, Christopher Edwards,

James Freemantle (Chairman), David Fry, Frances Guthrie, Helen Hardy,

Robert Hirst, Kevin Cordes, Jim Maslen, Holly Trant, Peter Whetman

Hon Secretary

Jim Maslen

Hon Treasurer

Robert Hirst

Hon Publications Secretaries

David Chambers, James Freemantle

Hon Editors, The Private Library

David Butcher, David Chambers, James Freemantle, Jim Maslen

Editorial Board: Caroline Archer, Rob Banham, Christopher Edwards

Hon Membership Secretaries

Jim Maslen (UK, Europe and Rest of World)

Prof. L. D. Mitchell (USA)

Jim Cramton (Canada)

Ms Kay Craddock AM (Australasia)

Tony Cox (Institutional Libraries)