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Concentration and internationalisation of the UK brewing industry, towards the end of the 20th century, led to a rationalisation of the professional and technical support organisations supporting the industry.
In January 2001 The Institute of Brewing (founded in 1886) and The International Brewers' Guild (founded in 1906) merged to form The Institute and Guild of Brewing (now the Institute of Brewing & Distilling). At about the same time The Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association (formerly The Brewers' Society, founded in 1822) reviewed its objectives and, as The British Beer and Pub Association, moved to new premises where they could no longer house their library.
Under the auspices of The Institute and Guild of Brewing, the libraries of the Institute of Brewing, The International Brewers' Guild and the technical reference library of The Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association were combined. These were supplemented further by the book collection held within the extensive Whitbread Brewing Archive, following the decision of Whitbread to sell its brewing business. Interest in combining these collections to create a new National Brewing Library was generated at Oxford Brookes University through academic and library interest. Key staff at Brookes involved in this project were Dr Katherine Smart through her role as Head of the Yeast Research Group (within the School of Biological and Molecular Sciences), Dr Helen Workman (University Librarian), Tom Martin (Brewer) and Chris Marchbanks (Brewing Technologist). The combined libraries were successfully brought together to form The National Brewing Library at Oxford Brookes University. The minute books and business records of The Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association are archived at the University of Warwick Modern Records Centre. Those from the Whitbread Archive are deposited at London or County Record Offices according to their geographical origin. The Whitbread collection of films is held at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu. More recently, the collection was augmented further by the addition of books and journals from the Brewery History Society Library, following its closure and dispersal. (The archival material from the BHS Library was deposited at the History of Advertising Trust.)
The National Brewing Library comprises more than 3500 volumes, in a single location, and provides a unique English language collection relating to brewing, other alcoholic beverages and dependent trades. About one quarter of the items are unique to the collection and do not appear in the catalogues of The British Library or other major collections.
The Institute of Brewing & Distilling is pleased to associate the National Brewing Library with Oxford Brookes University. In addition to the University's central location The National Brewing Library works in parallel with the Michael Jackson Collection ("The Beer Hunter") and complements The John Fuller Collection of catering, cookery and gastronomy literature, the Jane Grigson Collection, and other food and gastronomy collections also held in the University Library. These collections support major areas of teaching and research across the University and externally.