Under the terms of the Royal Charter, one of the purposes of the Corporation was to provide a library to collect and diffuse information respecting all matters of interest to the Church of England. An article in the Standard in 1887 suggested that the Church House Library should maintain links with the English-speaking Church throughout the world, and two years later the Secretary pro tem, the Rev. R. Milburn Blakiston, issued a request throughout the Anglican Communion for copies of important diocesan records to be sent to the Church House.
Links with the Church abroad were further strengthened with the appointment of Honorary Diocesan Secretaries in every Diocese of the Communion, 'with the object of making the aims and work of the Church House more widely known amongst the clergy abroad, and of procuring for the Church House the fullest current information as to the work of the Church in the Colonies'. Between 1891 and 1893 sixty secretaries were appointed, and by 1930 this figure had risen to 122, with secretaries as far afield as China, Fiji and British Columbia.
The Library was first housed in a room in the temporary Church House, where its comprehensive Hymnological Collection (about 10,000 separate volumes) was started with the gift from Dr John Julian of the books and manuscripts he had accumulated in the preparation of his Dictionary of Hymnology (1892). In 1890 a second important gift was received, from Mrs W. Bullock: the 440 volumes of J.P. Migne's Patrologiae Graeca et Latina.
In 1902 the Library was allocated three rooms on the ground floor of the West Block. The Reading Room contained the current issues of all the English Diocesan magazines, the leading church papers, and many organs of Church Societies: in all, about 140 periodicals. Another feature of the Library was the collection of photographs of as many bishops as possible of the Anglican Communion, commencing with Dr Temple.