The present library building stands at the north end of the Great Hall. It is approached by the staircase which also leads to the benchers' rooms; and beneath the library are the offices of the Inn. All these structures were built at the same time as the Great Hall, in 1843-45, though the library was extended eastwards in 1872, to the design of Sir George Gilbert Scott, R.A. Before the present building was erected, the library was at 2 Stone Buildings; and before 1787 there was a library close to the Old Hall. As a collection of books, the library has been in continuous existence for five centuries.
Until 1777, the more valuable books were secured by chains. In addition to law reports, statutes, legal textbooks and all the usual material of a working law library, there are many other books on a wide range of subjects, including topography, local records, parish registers and many branches of literature. There are also many manuscripts, including those in the large and valuable bequest of Sir Matthew Hale, C.J. (1609-76).