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About the Reference Library

Originally located in the old kitchens of Palace House, the library was opened by Edward, Lord Montagu on 28 April 1961. Based on his father’s collection of motoring books and journals, the library was later moved to the John Montagu Building and officially opened by HRH The Duke of Kent on 4 July 1973 before finally being transferred to its present location in the National Motor Museum Trust Collections Centre on 6 November 1989.

The library has grown substantially over the years to become one of the largest resources of its type anywhere in the world covering cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles to horse-drawn carriage material dating from the 1880s onwards. The majority of the Collection is in English but also includes a number of foreign language publications.

The type of material held is wide and varied and includes approximately 13,000 books, 31,000 workshop manuals and handbooks, 9,000 event programmes, 2,400 auction catalogues together with around 104,850 manufacturers’ sales catalogues and items. Added to this are some 6,900 bound and 81,000 unbound periodicals with titles including:

  • Autocar

  • Autosport

  • Car Illustrated

  • Classic Motorcycle

  • Commercial Motor

  • La Vie Automobile

  • Light Car and Cyclecar

  • Motor

  • Motorcycle

  • Motorcycling

  • Motorsport

  • Omnia

  • Practical Classics

  • Road and Track

  • Veteran and Vintage

The library continues to receive a large number of transport-related titles on a regular basis, including many club magazines and newsletters.


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