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The Institution of Structural Engineers Library

Library of the Week: 13th June: This week we feature The Institution of Structural Engineers Library which holds one of the best specialist structural engineering collections in the UK, with over 13,500 books, 14,000 reports and 5,000 standards! Find out more in this post by Rob Thomas, Manager of the Library and Information Services – thank you so much for taking part!

The Concrete Institute Transactions and Notes. Volume 1, Part 2, 1909

The Institution of Structural Engineers was founded in 1908 as The Concrete Institute. At the time, reinforced concrete was coming into widespread use and it was felt that a professional body was required to better understand this new construction material. As the scope of the membership widened, the name of the organisation was changed to reflect this, and it became the Institution of Structural Engineers (IStructE) in 1922.

The Structural Engineer. Volume 100, Issue 6, June 2022

One of the first tasks of the fledgling organisation was to set up a Library, and this was done in 1910. Since then, the Library has grown into one of the best specialist structural engineering collections in the UK, with over 13,500 books, 14,000 reports and 5,000 standards. There is also a curated collection of around 480 E-books on the ProQuest Ebook Central platform, which is particularly useful to our overseas members as postal loans are normally limited to our members in the UK. The Library does not have an archive of drawings, records or objects but there is the Historical Collection which has around 300 books from pre-1900.

The IStructE moved to its current location at 47-58 Bastwick Street, close to Old Street and Barbican in December 2014. This is a newly refurbished 1960s office building, quite different from the large house in Belgravia that it had occupied since the 1930s – but much more suited to modern office work. The Library occupies the first floor, which it shares with the Members Area.

The IStructE Library

Membership of the IStructE ranges from undergraduate Students, to Graduates, to chartered Members and Fellows. The majority of requests to the Library come from practicing engineers, either working on new structures or on alterations to existing structures – for the latter, there is considerable call for older textbooks, superseded codes and standards and trade literature for engineers looking to understand how a structure they are working on was built originally.

Jaggard, W.R. and Drury, F.E. Architectural building construction. Volume 3. Cambridge: University Press, 1943 (Detail No 36 B)

Our members will typically ask about what loads a structure was designed to withstand in the 1960s or whether we have anything on a proprietary flooring system from the 1930s. We also aim to keep our members up-to-date and informed on topical issues such as net zero and the climate emergency, computational design and the Building Safety Act.

The Institution of Structural Engineers. Computational engineering. London: IStructE, 2020

It’s a varied and interesting subject area to work in, as many of the enquiries we receive are about structures we know or recognise – and even the ones we don’t know come to life as we research them and the engineers that designed and built them. I have an interest in construction history and am the administrator for the Institution’s History of Structural Engineering Study Group.

Although primarily a member benefit, the Library may be used by non-members by appointment and the Library will loan to libraries via the British Library lending scheme.

Visit us at

Rob Thomas

All images copyright of the Institution of Structural Engineers, reproduced with kind permission of the copyright holder.

You can explore the library’s collections on Discover and find further contact details on their Discover information page.

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