The library was given to the WM Connexion in 1884 by Thomas Robinson Allan. It comprised a large and valuable collection of Bibles, liturgical works and Reformation literature, amounting to 13,000 books and 35,000 dissertations, plus volumes from the libraries of Dr W.H. Rule and others. It was to be situated in London for the use of WM ministers and local preachers and was compared at its opening to the Anglican library of Sion College and the Nonconformist Dr. Williams's Library. But this was to prove too ambitious a project for the Wesleyan Connexion to achieve and the nature of the collection proved inappropriate to be of service to the rank and file of ministers.
A subscription list was opened at the Burslem Conference of 1884, to which the trustees of the estate of John Fernley contributed generously. A Committee of Management was appointed by the following Conference, with the Book Steward as its treasurer.
The library was housed in a newly-built extension to the Book Room and was formally opened on 4 March 1891 by the President, Dr. W. F. Moulton. The librarian until 1901 was Thomas Hayes, previously clerk to the WMMS.
Allan had failed to make financial provision for the housing and administration of the Library and this caused difficulties from the outset. In 1920 it was sold to the London Library for £2,637, the proceeds to be used by a Conference-appointed Board of Trustees (eight ministerial and eight lay) to assist WM ministers and others to be members of that Library. Subsequently the administration of the fund came under the General Purposes Fund Committee and in 1986 the Charity Commissioners approved a scheme vesting the fund in the Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes as custodian trustees. The managing trustees (now the Methodist Council) are to apply the income for Methodist Ministers and probationers by assisting in library provision, library subscriptions and travelling expenses in attending libraries for research purposes.