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At the heart of English folk

Library and archive

The essential folk resource

"The most important concentration of material on traditional song, dance and music in the country."
A Dictionary of English Folklore

The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) is England’s national folk music and dance archive, an essential resource for anybody interested in the folk arts. Founded in 1930 as the Cecil Sharp Library and housing Cecil Sharp’s personal book collection (which helped lay the foundations of the modern folk revival), it is now a multi-media library of distinction, containing books, pamphlets, periodicals, press cuttings, broadsides, paintings, photographs, slides, artefacts, records, reel-to-reel tapes, phonograph cylinders, videos, cine films, compact discs, audio cassettes and more.


It is a comprehensive collection, containing the largest number of manuscripts in England and providing an insight into history and regional variations. Explore the catalogue of printed literature

Recent projects include Take 6 project, a searchable database of manuscript archives from several of the most prominent folk song collectors, and The Full English, a learning programme involving the world’s biggest digital archive of English folklore, song and dance manuscripts. Both projects have been supported by the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund Heritage Lottery Funding.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) is the library’s custodian. The Library is housed at the Society’s HQ, Cecil Sharp House.

The Library was given an excellence award by the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives and Documentation Centres (IAML) in 2010 and designated status by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in 2011.

 

Opening hours

Tuesday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.30pm 
First and third Saturdays each month (except August), 10am – 4pm 
The Audio Visual Archive is closed 12 – 2pm, daily.  Advanced booking is essential for access to the Audio Visual Archive, by calling +44 (0)20 7485 2206.

 

Entry is free

 

 

Supporters

RVW Trust
National Folk Music Fund

 

Explore the Library’s collections

Search the Library’s indexes 

Browse the Library’s catalogue 

 

National Youth Folk Ensemble

National Youth Folk Ensemble

 

Donate now

There's never been a better time to donate to EFDSS - between now and 2019 your donation will be matched by Arts Council England!