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This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

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Archbishop praises Lambeth Palace Library's 'Back-a-Book' scheme

Wednesday 13th August 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams has praised the generosity of contributors to the 'Back-a-Book' scheme.

The campaign encourages members of the public to sponsor the repair of books in Lambeth Palace Library, the principal library and record office for the history of the Church of England.

The Archbishop said: "Lambeth Palace Library has an unrivalled collection of books relating to the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. The Library greatly appreciates the generosity people are showing by participating in 'Back-a-Book' to ensure that these books can be preserved for future generations".

In 1996, 30,000 books from the recently closed Sion College Theological Library were moved to Lambeth Palace Library, almost 90% of which required essential repair from bomb and flood damage.

Since the campaign launch in 2006 more than 160 donors have given over £18,000, and have helped to repair more than 180 volumes.

Following conservation, each book has a bookplate placed inside, commemorating its sponsor, or the sponsor's chosen representative.

Dozens of theological and historical books from the 16th to 19th centuries have been repaired through the scheme including: 

  • The world's second ever printed library catalogue
  • A first edition of Olaudah Equiano's 18th century autobiography
  • A 15th century English manuscript of the works of Alain Chartier
  • The Pilgrimage of the Soul, printed by William Caxton in 1483

However, there are still thousands of books at risk and in need of restoration including:

  • 17th century pamphlets from the civil war
  • A first edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
  • An early edition of Burke's Reflections on the Revolution in France printed in 1790
  • Original reports of the African Institution
  • A first edition of Daniel Defoe's sequel to Robinson Crusoe

For further information on the project please contact Lambeth Palace Library via the website , by phone on 020 7898 1400, or visit the library on Lambeth Palace Road, SE1 7JU.

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