Requests for information
The Library of the Athenaeum is in daily receipt of requests for information. Unless the answer requires extensive and time-consuming search, or is intended for commercial purposes, no charge will be made for this service, though a donation is always appreciated. It is expected that the contribution of the Athenaeum staff will be properly acknowledged in any published work, Copyright of such material remains with the Athenaeum. A charge will be levied for use of illustrative material supplied by the Athenaeum for use in works intended for publication.
Access to collections and catalogue
If personal access to the collection is required, this can be obtained by joining the Friends of the Athenaeum Library. The Library has a paper sheaf catalogue on the premises. An on-line catalogue giving full bibliographical information is in preparation and will be available shortly.
Summary of particular collections
The collection embraces a wide range of material but is especially strong in the fields of history, literature, topography and biography, especially where there is a connection to Merseyside. There is a good collection of periodicals and an excellent array of maps, charts etc, again mainly concerned Liverpool and its environs.
More than ninety pen and wash drawings of Liverpool streets and buildings executed by James Brierley c1830. These form the basis of ‘Brierley’s Liverpool’ (ISBN 978-1-85936-205-1) by David Brazendale published by Carnegie. Copies are available from the Athenaeum. There are a number of miniature pencil sketch portraits of Liverpool worthies by Thomas Hargreaves ((1774 – 1847), a collection of late Nineteenth century caricatures by Prosperi, a Vanity Fair artist and many other photographs, drawings.
The pamphlet collection covers the entire period of the existence of the Athenaeum and provides a comprehensive picture of the political, social and cultural concerns of the period. The papers donated by Sir Robert Gladstone cover a wide range of topics, mostly related to Liverpool and the North West area in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The library contains bound volumes of playbills for the various Liverpool theatres, especially for performances at the Theatre Royal during the nineteenth century.
A large and random collection of ephemera includes many paintings, drawings, photographs and press cuttings, mostly concerned with Liverpool since 1800.
The records of the Athenaeum itself are held, including a full set of minute books, accounts and acquisition registers.
The Library holds an almost complete set of Liverpool Directories, including the very rare first Gore’s Directory of 1766. There is also a manuscript Directory of 1734. A very rare item is the complete compilation of census returns for Liverpool from the 1801 census.