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Library Annual Review 2023


In 2023 we began a review of the accessibility of the Library and its service. This will be an ongoing project to improve user experience and ensure we are inclusive and accessible to all members. A benchmarking exercise was undertaken, auditing the accessibility information pages of over 100 university websites, as a result of which a number of improvements were made to our offering in terms of equipment and software. In addition to this we convened an inter-Inn accessibility working group to discuss baselines, parity of service and what a truly accessible Library would look like.

AI and the Inn

The Library has played a central role in shaping the Inn’s approach to AI, specifically Generative AI. This has entailed extensive research, the creation of a detailed briefing paper and a draft policy.

Bar Librarians Group Meetings

The Bar Librarians Group met three times at the Inner Temple in 2023. A fourth meeting was convened at the headquarters of LexisNexis in Farringdon Street.

The Group celebrated its 21st anniversary in November, when founder member and previous Chair Margaret Clay was invited to join the meeting. Attendees of this meeting enjoyed catching up with Margaret following her retirement as Inner Temple Librarian in November 2020, and reminiscing about earlier issues affecting Bar libraries. It must be said that some of these issues still persist!


In the course of 2023 over 400 non-Commonwealth and 60 Commonwealth volumes were sent for binding and rebinding to our binders Riley, Dunn and Wilson, who are based in Scotland.


We produced a number of bookmarks highlighting elements of our collections. These included examples of the marbled endpapers found in many of the older books in our print collection, and some spooky designs to coincide with Hallowe’en.


Briefing Papers

We prepared a number of briefing papers, created to support the overseas visits made by the Treasurer. These included briefing papers on the US Supreme Court; Barbados; Trinidad & Tobago; the Caribbean; India; and the subject of Reparations.

Catalogue – New Platform

In summer 2023 we undertook the huge task of migrating our existing Library catalogue to a new platform. This entailed a great deal of preparation in terms of mapping the bibliographical fields within catalogue records, followed by extensive beta testing by staff to iron out any issues and make adjustments to the functionality and design of the new interface. The new catalogue is much more user friendly and responsive, offers far more options for constructing and narrowing searches than before, and integrates search results from the other Inn Library catalogues.

Catalogue new acquisitions


A total of 158 new titles, and 230 new editions of titles already held, were added to the catalogue during the year. In addition, the number of existing records amended (other than to indicate a new edition) was 585.

The retrospective project to add detailed contents notes to catalogue records for practitioners’ textbooks was completed in the early part of the year. This enhances subject retrieval considerably.

Clerks’ Tours

 We have continued to run Library tours for new clerks from various chambers so that they are confident when using the Library. In the tour we use various finding aids such as the quick reference guide and the catalogue to help the clerks locate several typical citations that they might be asked to find, be that case law, journal articles, legislation, or a textbook reference. This approach helps the clerks become conversant with the Library’s layout and the materials held.


A member of Library staff joined the newly created Communications, Information and Technology and Artificial Intelligence Committee (formerly the Communication Sub-Committee).

The Library continues to have representation on the Wellbeing Team and the Staff EDI Team.

Our Librarians are also involved in external projects in the wider profession, and in 2023 this included joining the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians Diversity and Inclusion Working Group.

Library Committee met four times in 2023 and marked the final year with Master Sally Smith as the Committee Chair. Topics considered during the year ranged from expansion space for the legal collections, options for consolidating the non-legal collections, withdrawal and disposal of material, the practicalities and pitfalls of the ‘print vs digital’ debate, acquisition policies, and manuscript insurance. The Books Sub Committee continued to scrutinise the new title suggestions, approving the purchase of 94% of the titles suggested by the Library staff.

Current Awareness

Over the course of the year we added over 3,300 posts to the Current Awareness blog, bringing the total number to just over 73,000. The popularity of the service continues to grow and over 8,000 users are signed up to receive the daily email update.

We received some very positive feedback, illustrating how valuable this service has become; for example:  “I just wanted to let you guys know how brilliant your Current Awareness email is. Reading about BXB in the linked article back in May gave me the confidence to cite it in my tort exam. So thank you and keep up the good work!”

Database Training

We arranged eight training sessions on using Lexis+ and Westlaw during the year. These are aimed at helping students achieve accreditation, which is (as we always point out) a good addition to a CV.

In addition to the overview sessions, we organised a specific event that focused on Civil Procedure (the White Book). This was in response to students’ comments about the online version of this vital text.


In summer 2023 we moved over to the new Lexis+ (Lexis Plus) platform. The homepage looks different and there are some changes in how the materials are arranged. Most of the content does remain as before and includes law reports, legislation, journals, books and practical guidance. Two key things to remember: material relating to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, India, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore is in a separate International section and Lexis PSL is now called Practical Guidance.

Any Library user needing help with Lexis+ can ask Library staff on the Enquiry Desk or book a one-to-one refresher session.

We have added to the content on vLexJustis: Our subscription now includes Inquest Law Reports and Prison Law Reports.

Lexis+ screenshot

Document Supply

 We received a total of 233 user requests for documents in 2023, and approximately 380 items were scanned from our collections and sent out to Library users.


Members of the Inn continue to present copies of their newly published works, and of new editions for which they are responsible, either solely or jointly. We also receive Wildy, Simmonds and Hill publications free of charge. Donations resulted in a saving of £2,633 on monographs and £7,732 on serials in 2023.


As ever, enquiries dealt with (both at the Enquiry Point and by email/phone) were very varied. A few examples:  an enquirer wrote that they were trying to get hold of any explanatory notes to the Pension Schemes Act 1993 or the Pension Schemes Bill which led to it – which they thought used to be called ‘notes on clauses’. Another was looking for any case heard in an English court, to do with the court’s interpreting whether an exclusive jurisdiction clause (e.g. for a foreign court such as Austria) was incorporated into a contract for the purposes of the Hague Choice of Court Convention.

A third asked whether there were any Bahamian cases on: 1. The Extradition Treaty between the USA and The Bahamas, Nassau, 9 March 1990 (specifically Article 14); 2. Section 7(4) of the Extradition Act contained in Chapter 96 of the Statute Law of The Bahamas (relating to the rule of specialty); and 3. The rule of specialty in an extradition context. Another requested any departmental circulars or other government guidance on green belts dating from between 1938 and 1955.

Exhibitions of Manuscripts and Rare Books

The Library assisted Master Norman Doe and Master John Baker by curating displays for their lectures to the Ecclesiastical Law Society and the Inner Temple History Society, respectively. For Master Doe’s lecture, ‘An Elizabethan Mystery’, the Library displayed a manuscript on canon law from the Petyt collection written by the Anglican priest Ralph Lever (c. 1530-1585). Our manuscript is discussed in detail by Master Doe in an article for the Ecclesiastical Law Journal.

In ‘Treasures of the Library’, Master Baker discussed the influence that the text and illuminations featured within three of the Library’s manuscripts have had on national history and legal practice.  For this lecture, the Library displayed the manuscripts themselves alongside contemporary statutes and abridgments so as to contextualise and augment Master Baker’s argument. A video recording of this lecture can be found on the Inn’s website.

Court of Chancery
Court of Chancery

As well as curating displays for members, the Library also mounted exhibitions for visitors to the Inn. For a group of visiting students from Boston University, for example, we explored the historical and current function of an Inn Library by highlighting the need for retaining original law reports, showing our guests some of the first compilations from 1577 and 1586 as well as old editions of textbooks. (We displayed the first edition of Archbold, published 1822, alongside the current edition from 2023.)

In addition we underscored our non-law collections by exhibiting our copies of Shakespeare’s Fourth Folio (1685) and Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (first edition, 1859), original newspaper cuttings featuring the famous defence barrister and Inner Temple alumnus Sir Edward Marshall Hall KC (1858-1927), and selected publications on trials, such as that of a Gunpowder Plot conspirator from 1606.

Legal Research Training

 Library staff have continued to provide qualifying sessions for student members, and legal research training sessions for pupils. In addition to the basic and advanced legal research sessions for student members, a third session on Official Publications was developed, and presented in April. The use of Zoom for presentations has enabled us to continue to provide this service to students based outside London. The Library organised a remote training session on legal research for pupils in October.

We also arranged tours of the Library for new pupils from various sets of chambers. One-to-one training sessions have also been provided to members wanting assistance with specific issues, and a series of short sessions for presentation at lunchtimes has been developed.

Lending Library

This year we continued to grow our collections of books relating to EDI and allyship, and wellbeing and mental health, which are available for loan to all Inner Temple staff as well as library users.

In 2023 we added relevant titles to coincide with Alcohol Awareness Week, Disability History Month, Stress Awareness Week, as well as a range of other topics.

Littleton Basement

The year saw a good deal of moving around of items in The Littleton basement store. Library users will be aware that this store houses the bulk of our superseded material. Project Pegasus necessitated the relocation of some items and disposal of some non-essential material, and we needed to tidy up this space and make retrieval easier for staff. Most of the work was finished by the end of 2023, with just a little more tidying and spacing out to be done in early 2024.

Manuscript & Rare Books Enquiries

The manuscripts and rare books (or at least those of the latter that were put into storage for the duration of Project Pegasus) were finally returned in May 2023, and have elicited a great deal of interest, not least because a ‘backlog’ of enquiries had built up. The subject matter of the enquiries we receive continues to attest to the variety and richness of these collections. A few examples are: Charters of Salisbury Cathedral; the provenance of our copy of Saxton’s Atlas (1579) (Somerset below); correspondence of Bishop Edmund Bonner (c.1500-1569); and an illuminated copy of Hilton’s Scale of Perfection, once the property of Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester (1483-1555); the Black Book of the Admiralty, with Lord Stowell’s annotations. The Inn’s manuscript of Coke’s Reports, volumes 12 and 13 (left) has been the object of particular interest, both on account of its treatment of heresy, and because of its provenance: it bears the signature of John Bradshaw, the regicide.

Somerset from Saxton's Atlas 1579
Somerset from Saxton’s Atlas 1579


2023 was the second year we ran our month-long mini-book event, back by popular demand – requests were received as early as July! We created mini-book Christmas decorations which tempted new users into the Library and provided an excellent opportunity for some stealth marketing. (Each mini-book had a miniature Inner Temple Library bookplate inside.) The general merry-making was enjoyed across our various social media channels.


The Library’s e-newsletter was emailed to all members and tenants in May, September and December in 2023. Topics covered included updates from the databases, a behind the scenes look at our basement stores, a summary of how the Library can help users throughout each stage of their legal careers, and information via the Library’s new look catalogue interface.

Outreach Activities

The Library continued to collaborate with colleagues from the Education & Training Department in providing tours for prospective members.

We also mounted displays for students from the Bloomsbury Institute and for library staff from City Law School.  These displays showcased items from our very wide legal holdings as well as materials from our heritage collections.

The Deputy Librarian took part in a remote training day for law librarians based in Ghana, speaking on the topics of collection management and subject guides. She also gave a talk to law librarians attending the Foreign and International Law Course organised by BIALL. Her talk (on Caribbean sources of law) was later repeated for colleagues in the other Inn Libraries.

Patron-Driven Acquisition Scheme

The pilot Patron-Driven Acquisition scheme was approved and became a normalised part of our existing acquisitions processes. It adds a ‘point of need’, user-driven aspect to our usual book selection processes that had not previously existed. Since it was launched, we have purchased 19 books, 10 of which were acquired during 2023. The process is designed to be quick and responsive: many of these titles were available to read within one week of the request being made.

To make a request or to find out more details, see our website.


We organised a refresher session on legal research for new pupils in the autumn. This was followed by a session in November on researching non-UK law. We have also designed a new-style induction for pupils, which includes a tour of the Library and its basement store, and an introduction to Library services.

Reading Lists

In 2023 the Library supported the wider work of the Inn by creating additional materials to accompany some of the lectures and panel discussions held on legal topics. These included several of the Social Context of the Law events and a special event on Artificial Intelligence. See for example:

Global Responses to the Forcibly Displaced

Social Media

LinkedInAs fairly new converts to LinkedIn we have been using our account more and more in 2023, as a good place for connecting with other people from the legal world and advertising Library training, events and opening hours. Our statistics show a steady rise in visitors to the Library’s page with the majority of them from the law practice or legal services industries. We hope to continue to develop our presence on LinkedIn.

FacebookOur Facebook page has 1,962  followers who are mainly based in London with the those in the age range of 25-44 being the most frequent users . The page advertises Library training, opening hours, law-related TV and radio programmes and local events.

X (formerly Twitter)Our X profile has 12,300 followers and, on average, we have over 40,000 interactions with our tweets each month from law students, barristers, solicitors, librarians, historians, and the public, worldwide. On our profile we regularly posted information about upcoming training events—such as our ‘Fast Track Training’ series for students, database sessions, and selected law-related events—and highlighted special titles in both our Wellbeing Collection (for example for ‘Alcohol Awareness Week’ and ‘Disability Pride Month’) and the Inn’s favourite ‘Staff Reads’.

Excitingly, we also created useful threads on essential legal research skills: ‘Doing Legal Research on Westlaw’, ‘Citations: Round v Square Brackets’, ‘10 Rules of Legal Research’, ‘Hierarchy of Citations’, and ‘Neutral Citations’. We also highlighted the spooky bookmarks we created and displayed on our old catalogue cabinets for Hallowe’en, (see Bookmarks, above), celebrated Heritage Treasures Day with a thread about the history of the Inn’s 18th century  ‘Flying Pegasus’, and advertised our now famous (in legal London, at least) ‘mini-book’ Christmas decorations.

We are now manually posting our daily Current Awareness updates onto X – make sure to turn on notifications so you don’t miss any posts. Check out our thread to see what it’s all about (and for some fun graphics of certain members of staff).

Staff Training

Lily, the Library’s Graduate Trainee, began her postgraduate studies at UCL in 2023. She is undertaking an MA in Library and Information Studies.

Sally, Assistant Librarian, attended courses on digital accessibility, neurodiversity in the workplace, data literacy, Javascript, and CSS. She also undertook Grief Awareness First Aider Training.

James, Senior Library Assistant, attended the “Damaged books and bound archives: practical first steps” day course in September at the British Library. We will be integrating some of the points raised into our collection care policies during 2024.

Student Events

We continued to take part in the Inns of Court Libraries’ Bar School student induction talks induction talks given to London-based Bar School students. These included presentations at the City Law School and the University of Law. We think it is important that we give in-person talks to students at their universities when they start their courses, as it emphasises the role that their Inn Library can play in their development, and the vast array of resources available to them.

In September we also repeated the Inner Temple student ‘Whodunnit’ induction, where students are tasked to solve the mysterious case of the unconscious Librarian by following up various clues placed around the Library.  The event was a great success, and some of the theories that the students had as to the culprit were highly imaginative.

Student whodunnit induction

We also continue to run legal research training sessions for the student Mooting Society. The sessions are built around the moot problems that the students have been set, and represent another opportunity for us to support the development of our student members’ legal research skills.


We provided regular tours of our space, with overviews of our collections and services, to prospective and current students and members of the Inn, as well as external visitors.

Many of the tours were in collaboration with the access and outreach teams in the Education and Training Department. These tours included, but were not limited to, showing around students from Birkbeck University’s Law Society and from several groups of undergraduates from, professors from a college in the USA, groups of Pegasus Scholars from a variety of countries around the world, and graduate trainee librarians from Gray’s Inn and The Royal College of Nursing.

User Feedback

Some examples:

A user liked coming into the Library, as it “has a mature vibe”.

“There is nothing the librarians do not know in order to help and advise.” – Student

“We can safely say the librarians have saved us on numerous occasions.” – Clerks

“Thank you for your incredibly thorough research on this one.”

“Thanks for your help – it is impressive.”

“Some real detective work here! I will let you know what I find.”

“Many thanks – you are a star.”

“Thank you so much for this very comprehensive and helpful guide – much appreciated!”

“Thank you so much for your help in this matter- all of this information is very useful for me to navigate these historic documents!”

“Your achievement in putting back to normality our wonderful Library is astonishing.”

User Statistics

We had a total of 11,041 visits to the Library during 2023. Of these 4,568 were barristers and 4,201 were students, with the rest made up of Benchers, pupils, judges, chambers’ staff and other visitors.

From the pie chart opposite we can see that the overwhelming majority of users were Inner Temple members. Apart from these, members of the other three Inns were represented fairly equally. Non-members included chambers’ staff, manuscript readers and other visitors. It is useful to see the number of users month-by-month as well, so that we can prepare for the busy months, assuming they become a trend year-on-year. March, April, October and November were the busiest months in 2023. In August we were closed for two weeks in order to carry out book moves and essential works.

Library users by membership 2023

Library Users per month 2023

What’s New

In 2023 we introduced a silent zone. This is in Room F and judging by the number of users in there each day we think this has been successful.

We also installed a telephone booth in the copier lobby. This can be used to make and receive calls. Equipped with power sockets to charge your phone or laptop, it is also suitable for joining longer video calls or remote meetings.

As mentioned above we migrated to a new version of our catalogue and to Lexis+.