A Short History of the Evangelical Library

gwilliams-115x168The Evangelical Library (EL) is home to more than 80,000 evangelical books as well as an archive for many evangelical periodicals. The EL collection includes the very best that historic and contemporary evangelicalism has to offer. Our sections on church history, doctrine and devotional reading, to name but a few, form part of a unique and irreplaceable resource – the finest in written evangelical spirituality.

The Library was largely the vision of one man, Geoffrey Williams, who, in the 1930s, gave much prayerful thought to the legacy of Reformed and Puritan evangelical classics he had accumulated in his private collection – a wealth of applied biblical wisdom.

Geoffrey Williams had already recognised the anomaly of a Protestant nation which possessed a variety of specialist information libraries but lacked a national repository of the best in Protestant evangelical literature. He had also realised that many excellent evangelical works were fast disappearing from the public domain and so set himself the task of reclaiming as many of them as possible as a heritage for future generations.

With the seed thus sown Geoffrey Williams systematically scoured the length and breadth of the nation in pursuit of a wide range of important books for the collection. His tireless efforts were richly rewarded and today from the acorn of that original collection a rich oak has grown. What began as a substantial private collection very quickly grew into a major library of evangelical spiritual wisdom – one which touches every corner of the Christian life. Over the decades the trustees of the Library have sought to add to the collection the very best of modern evangelical works.

What fired the soul of Geoffrey Williams and those supporting the work in the very earliest days, including the great preacher of Westminster Chapel Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones, was a burning desire for the three R’s: the Restoration of the Word of God at the heart of the Christian community, the continuing necessity of Reforming the church which teaches that Word – and, ultimately, the Revival of the people brought about by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In his deep and abiding love of Christ and His Word, Geoffrey Williams knew that the gift of faith ultimately comes through the Word of God alone (Romans 10:17), but he also knew that God often drew people to that Christian faith through the writings of Christian authors. For many Christians it was the reading of a Christian book which led them ultimately to turn to Christ. For John Bunyan it had been reading Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians. Imagine then the spiritual value of a national library of such books!

Though technology has advanced enormously since the inception of the Library – and thankfully today a catalogue of the Library’s books is increasingly being made available to all homes via the Internet – the original vision has not changed at all. The aims of this unique resource are to provide the researching author and student with an unrivalled source of materials; the teaching minister with an extensive archive to aid his ministry; and the Christian who seeks personal growth and maturity with the spiritual insights and wisdom of those who have gone before.

Our prayer is that the rich vein of eternal, spiritual wisdom available through the Evangelical Library will continue to bring the light that is in Christ to many – and continued glory to God in the years ahead.

Soli Deo Gloria