From the earliest days of the Flyfishers’ Club, our founding fathers took the idea of establishing an angling library very seriously. This tradition continues, and the scope and ambition of the Flyfishers’ Club Library is best expressed as probably the best working collection of the literature on flyfishing in Britain, and allied subjects, anywhere in the world.
Within this statement, it is important to recognise the idea of the Library as a ‘working collection’, meaning that it is available to Members of the Club for the study of topics current and historical. In this regard, the Club’s other fascinating collections (of natural and artificial flies, diaries and correspondence, newspapers and periodicals, fishing equipment and other artifacts) are complementary to the Library.
The Library and other collections are managed on behalf of the General Committee of the Flyfishers’ Club by the Library and Collections Sub-Committee. The LCSC is responsible for all management and development matters, including conservation and new acquisitions, and the Club’s Librarian (David Beazley) and Curator (John Knott) take direction from and answer to the Sub-Committee.
A library like ours is valuable both as a reading and research resource and as a financial investment. Its value reflects the knowledge and experience preserved in the books, augmented by such factors as rarity, condition and association (or provenance). The following are the most valuable and important elements of the Library:
A substantially complete collection of what are recognized as the key texts on angling in Britain, from the 17th century down to today, especially those that are concerned with flyfishing:
- Early editions of the ‘founding’ texts, ie the descriptions of fishing in the time of Izaak Walton and his contemporaries in the second half of the 17th century (eg Barker, Venables, Franck, Nobbes, Chetham et al)
- Illustration within the literature, particularly with the emergence of hand-colouring of engraved plates of natural and artificial flies in the 19th century
- Extra-illustrated limited editions, typically with the inclusion of actual flies and/or materials, by Aldam, Halford, West, Edmonds and Lee, Baigent and others more recently
- Books by members of the Flyfishers’ Club, from such founding figures as Marston, Francis, Halford, Senior et al, through other ‘greats’ like G.E.M. Skues, on to modern writer-members: Fred Buller, Brian Clarke, John Goddard, Tony Hayter, Andrew Herd, Peter Lapsley, Neil Patterson et al, usually with presentation inscriptions to the Club
- Signed presentation copies from authors who did research in the Library or had other connections with the Club: these books are part of the ‘Precious Collection’, and include works by many eminent American flyfishermen
- A good collection of ‘chapbooks’ (cheaply produced early 19th century pamphlets, often rare) and other more ephemeral publications
- Good representation of angling works inspired by the different regions of Britain
- A general collection of books on fish and fisheries, aquatic entomology etc
- A near complete run of The Fishing Gazette since its birth in 1877 (shortly before the founding of the Flyfishers’ Club in 1884); also of Salmon & Trout Magazine and a full set of the Club’s own Journal (begun in 1911)
- A moderately well-developed collection of books about fishing elsewhere in the world (particularly in the United States and the old British Empire)
Books may be added to the Library in various ways:
- As gifts from Members, authors and others
- Submitted by publishers for review in the Flyfishers’ Journal
- Selective purchasing of newly published books
- By buying in the secondhand/antiquarian market and/or at auction.
As regards out-of-print books, the Librarian maintains a ‘Wants List’ of books which it would be desirable to add to the Library. Sometimes a book that has gone astray or been damaged will be added to this list in order to locate a replacement. Members are periodically reminded of the ‘Wants List’, and the Club is very grateful when they can assist with donations.
Although it is not our policy to try to acquire a copy of every newly published book on flyfishing, we do endeavour to acquire, by one means or another, a copy of anything judged to be of particular interest or importance to Members. This extends to subjects such as fly-tying, entomology, fishing abroad, histories of angling clubs and bibliography. The Librarian is always interested in receiving suggestions in this regard.
In total, including some minor sections, the Library currently has just over 3,000 volumes. All books added to the Library are entered on the Library Catalogue which is maintained as an indispensable management tool. The Secretary will usually hold either a printed copy of this catalogue, or have online access to facilitate searching for authors, titles and key words. Additionally, the Library Catalogue shows the shelf on which each book in the Library should be found.
Books published recently have their own section (Shelves 31-35 in the inner clubroom) so that Members can easily see what’s new. Otherwise, books will usually be shelved in the section to which they most readily belong: click here to find out more. Where books are shelved alphabetically it may sometimes be necessary to look at the end of the previous shelf or the beginning of the following shelf.
Books on open shelves are generally available for browsing and borrowing by Members (with the exception of The Fishing Gazette which is not to be removed from the Club). All books borrowed should be recorded in the Borrowing Book and returned within one month. Access to the reserved sections of the Library is best arranged directly with the Librarian or through the Secretary.
Browsers are asked to be sure to return books to exactly where they found them, it being remarkable how often this requirement is overlooked!
David Beazley, Club Librarian