Which institutions are eligible to apply?

Is there an application deadline?

The item I want to buy is being auctioned soon, can you help?

What can I apply for?

How much can I apply for?

I have no other funding available, can I still apply?

Is there an application form?

Can I include the cost of conservation and cataloguing in my application?

What terms and conditions apply to the FNL's grants?

If my application is successful, when can I claim my grant?

How frequently can I apply?

Can I help the FNL?


Which institutions are eligible to apply?

  • The National Libraries and the libraries of national museums;
  • Record offices and archives services;
  • University and specialist libraries;
  • Any museum, gallery or collecting institution to which the public has reasonable access and which, in the opinion of the Trustees, constitutes a proper repository for the proposed acquisition.

Is there an application deadline?

The Trustees prefer to consider non-urgent applications at their meetings, which are held in February, June and November and applications should be received on the 1st of these months. Urgent applications (in the case of a looming auction deadline for example) can be considered at any time, so do get in touch and we will respond quickly.


The item I want to buy is being auctioned soon, can you help?

Yes.  If a potential purchase comes up at auction at short notice, we can fast-track your application.  Contact us as soon as you can.


What can I apply for?

You can apply for a grant towards the purchase of rare printed books; manuscripts; archives of historical, literary, artistic, architectural, musical or other interest; and also fine bindings. We will not contribute to the purchase of an item you have already bought.


How much can I apply for?

Our grants range from a few hundred pounds upwards.  There is no lower or upper limit, but our available funds rarely allow us to give grants of more than £20,000.


We have no other funding available, can I still apply?

We would usually expect you to contribute to the cost from your own resources or funds raised from other grant-giving bodies, but we will consider 100% funding if you have explored  other possible sources of support, eg. the V&A Purchase Grant Fund, the Art Fund, the Pilgrim Trust.

We may also be able to suggest other funders that you might approach, so do get in touch. 

You may be applying for a grant as the first stage in a wider fundraising campaign. Please inform us of your progress and of any changes in circumstances or price as your campaign develops.

A grant from the Friends can stimulate contributions from other bodies.


Is there an application form?

No, you simply need to send a letter of application, preferably by email to admin AT fnlmail.org.uk.  You should include:

  • A description of the proposed acquisition, with information about its condition and provenance;
  • A brief statement of its significance for your collection;
  • A copy of the sale-catalogue entry if  the item is to be auctioned, or if you are buying from a dealer,  a copy of a dealer's catalogue entry if available
  • If you are buying from a dealer or private individual, please also state whether you have obtained, or will obtain, an independent valuation.
  • Please state what funding you will contribute yourself, what other funding you are seeking, and the amount of the grant you are seeking from the Friends.

Can I include the cost of conservation and cataloguing in my application?

No, we only give grants towards the cost of acquisition. 

You can apply to the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust for grants towards conservation; Archives Revealed may be able to offer support for cataloguing.


What terms and conditions apply to the FNL's grants?

  • There will be reasonable public access to the acquisition
  • That, if it is ever sold, a proportion of the price realised equal to the proportion of the cost met by the FNL's grant will be paid to the Friends of the National Libraries.
  • That a short account of it will be supplied before the end of the calendar year for the FNL
  • Annual Report. You should include: c. 500 words and photographs at 300dpi with captions.
  • That FNL's help will be acknowledged in any catalogue, exhibition label or publicity material and on social media (please tag @FNL313 in any tweets).

If my application is successful, when can I claim my grant?

You can claim your grant when the purchase has been concluded. Our auditors require proof of purchase, e.g. a copy of the vendor’s invoice. Payment will be made directly to your account by BACS, and you will need to supply your bank details when you submit your claim.


How frequently can I apply?

Eligible institutions can apply for grants as often as they wish.


Can I help the FNL?

YES!  You can take out institutional or individual membership from just £1 a week: follow this link to join - it takes less than 5 minutes. You can display our membership literature and collaborate with us over publicity. 

You can promote FNL and the help that we have given your institution in catalogue entries, exhibition labels, publicity material and social media (please tag @FNL313 in any tweets).


Still have questions?

If you have a question that is not covered here please do get in touch and we will be happy to help.

Contact us

FNL, PO Box 4291, Reading, Berkshire, RG8 9JA | Registered Charity No. 313020
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