Visit to Gray’s Inn Library

Last month a group of us visited Gray’s Inn Library, where the Librarian kindly gave us a tour of the collections. Jay and I have written up our thoughts on this very interesting library:


Gray’s Inn is one of the four Inns of Court (the others being Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Lincoln’s Inn). I have visited the other three Inns libraries, so I was very keen to see Gray’s Inn as well, especially given its proximity to our Gray’s Inn Place site and also the fact that some of our Bar Professional Training Course students use this library.

Although the library building itself is mid 20th century, the origins of the library can be traced as far back as 1488. The Inn has a really rich history, and the Gray’s Inn website is a useful source of information (containing a history, timeline, and details of the archives).

The Librarian started off by giving us a tour of the printed collections, and by explaining the specialisms of the library. Each of the Inns of Court libraries collects materials according to particular specialisms, and the Gray’s Inn specialisms include several of particular relevance to our law researchers (e.g. human rights, and immigration & nationality).  Many of the databases that Gray’s Inn Library has are the same as the ones we subscribe to, but there was one different one that I was interested to see, namely a database called Electronic Immigration Network. This is a database which contains UK immigration and asylum case law, as well as human rights information for over 100 countries.

Another Gray’s Inn library resource which I was interested to hear about is the Lauterpacht Collection, which the library fairly recently acquired. It is a large international law collection (around 185 boxes of material) which the library staff are sorting and cataloguing.

At a time of great change for the Inns of Court libraries (e.g. the expansion of Lincoln’s Inn and the controversial changes to Inner Temple Library, current details of which are contained here), I really appreciated the opportunity to visit Gray’s Inn Library and to meet the library staff who are always so helpful to us and to our students.


Gray’s Inn Library is within the picturesque setting of beautiful courtyards and grand paintings, while being in the centre of London alongside the law district. This allows users to have both the tranquillity needed for study while being practically located.

I was surprised by the history and scale of resources within Gray’s Inn Library. We were kindly guided through the stunning main rooms, shown the facilities available to members from the wide range of their print collections, computers with multitudes of legal databases (including training for these resources), to the bookable rooms for training, lectures and mock courts. I was amazed by the lengths the Inn goes to provide comprehensive and inspiring opportunities for the users, such as inviting top barristers to hold mock trials, and judges to host Q&As. The fact that the Inns compete for the best graduating students pushes each library to offer its utmost in quality, resources and services.

The staff at Gray’s Inn law library guided us through challenges graduating law students will be faced with (such as applying for a pupillage if they wish to train as a barrister) and the facilities they will need. Being aware of the concerns law students at City come up against after their exams allows us as library staff to better advise soon-to-be graduates, developing our goal to support those students to the best of our abilities. Research trips like this one enable us to understand these needs, improve the experience for City students, and provide an even more inclusive service.

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