The Commonwealth library and archives contain books by and about the Commonwealth, as well as historical documents about the work of the Commonwealth and its 54 member countries dating back to 1965.

They exist to help staff, member governments, academics, students and other members of the public understand and research the history and work of the Commonwealth.

Search the catalogue online

Library collections

The library is organised around work and research carried out in Commonwealth countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific in the topic areas of:

  • democracy
  • governance
  • social, economic and sustainable development
  • youth
  • development of small and vulnerable states.

The collection includes:

  • books
  • periodicals
  • conference reports
  • discussion and working papers
  • government publications
  • official Commonwealth publications.

Everything in the library is for reference only. It is not a lending library.


The archives are held as physical document collections within the library. The archives consist of:

First Secretary-General Arnold Smith's papers

Second Secretary-General Sir Shridath Ramphal's papers

Commonwealth Secretariat records 1965-1983

Online catalogue

You can search the catalogue online.

Some items are available to look at online. To see the rest you need to make an appointment to visit Marlborough House.

Visit the library and archives

Opening hours are Monday to Friday from 10am to 4.45pm. Call 020 7747 6164 or e-mail to make an appointment.

From the archive

Key moments from the Commonwealth's history from the archive