"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.
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.
Please note, due to building works at Cecil Sharp House the sound and audio visual collections in the library are unavailable until October 2013. Between 16 and 27 September public access to the library will be by appointment only. Contact us to make an appointment. The library will not open on Saturdays during September.
Free, EFDSS Members
£3.50, non-EFDSS Members
National Folk Music Fund
Unlocking hidden treasure of England’s cultural heritage. The Full English is the world’s largest free digital archive English folk songs, tunes, dances and customs. Containing more than 58,400 items from 12 of the country’s most important early 20th century folk music collections, you can delve into wherever you are in the world.