The Central Council Library Committee is made up of six elected members and the Steward of the Library who joins them in an ex officio capacity. At present one third of the elected members stand down each year and are eligible to stand for re-election. The Steward is appointed at the first meeting of each triennium.

The day to day running of the library is in the hands of the Steward, who is responsible for purchasing additional items and maintaining the stock of books and other items. The aim is to hold a complete collection of printed works on bells and bellringing, but there is a strong emphasis on works in English, on bells for full circle ringing, and on change ringing. In addition to printed material, the library holds collections of recordings of bells and ringing, of Association and Guild lapel badges, of postal First Day Covers and stamps relating to ringing, of Association and Guild membership certificates, and of general ephemera.

With certain exceptions due to age, value or condition, all items can be borrowed by any member of an Association or Guild affiliated to the Central Council. The normal loan period is two months and the only charge is reimbursement of any postage costs.

The library may be visited for research by prior arrangement, but most enquiries are answered by the librarian by email or post. These queries vary from regular requests for details of peals and biographical details of ringers through scans from vintage bellfounders’ catalogues to details of automatic playing devices for tubular bells in France.

With the exception of a period under the Stewardship of Fred Sharpe, the library has normally been kept in the Librarian/Steward’s home. The disadvantages of this are that storage conditions may not be as good as those in a purpose built archive, access may be impossible when the Librarian is away from home, and two of the Librarians have been based in quite remote rural locations. The current committee believes that these are outweighed by having a Librarian with some knowledge of ringing and the time to carry out research for enquirers without charging commercial rates.

In recent years one of the main concerns of the committee has been making the information held in the library more easily and widely available. This has been done by producing and selling a series of DVDs covering most of the main periodicals: Campanology, The Bellringer, Bell News and The Ringing World 1911-1970 have been published with The Ringing World 1971-2000 to follow shortly.

We have also been pleased to publish two illustrated volumes of newspaper extracts relating to ringing, beginning in the eighteenth century. The research for this project was begun by the late Cyril Wratten and continued by John Eisel.  John hopes to have the third volume ready for us to publish shortly.

Other material from the collection has been made available through the committee’s pages on the CC website. Almost all the bell ringing items from Church Bells have been published and Bell News is being added. There is an index of obituaries published in Bell News and The Ringing World and a catalogue of ringing lapel badges, begun by Chris Ridley and currently being updated and expanded. The long-awaited online catalogue of all material held in the library should appear soon.

Much of the work of the library is supported by ‘The Friends of the CC Library’, a group of individuals and Guilds/Associations who pay an annual subscription or become Life Members. Friends receive an annual newsletter about the library and a copy of an essay on some topic related to ringing and books. Back numbers of these essays are also available on the committee’s website.

We have a presence at the CC annual meeting and at the various Ringing Roadshows, where current publications and surplus items from the library stock are offered for sale and members of the committee are available to give information and advice. We also arrange ‘outreach’ activities and invite those interested in bibliographic or historic aspects of ringing to join us at a central location for a day when they can listen to informative and entertaining speakers and meet others who share their interests.

Central Council Librarian
Six Bells House, Worthen, Shropshire. SY5 9HT
Tel: 01743 891407

BB BellBoard
Central Council of Church Bell Ringers