Lambeth Palace Library's function as a library of printed books, serving not only the Archbishop but also the Church and nation, dates from its foundation in 1610.  It now serves as the principal library for the history of the Church of England, and continues to collect current scholarship in the following categories:

(a) Material relating to the history and administration of the Church of England (pre- and post-Reformation), or providing necessary background sources for research in this field.

(b) Material supporting, or stemming from, the study of the historic collection of archives, manuscripts and early printed books in the care of the Library.