Founded in 1984 by composer Ernest Tomlinson (1924-2015) in the barn adjoining his Lancashire home, the aims of the library are two-fold; first, to preserve valuable orchestral material in danger of destruction, and secondly to provide a service to orchestras and ensembles wishing to perform the light orchestral repertoire. The library now houses well over 40,000 sets of orchestral material of all kinds, and the value of the collection to orchestras and ensembles is constantly demonstrated. The Light Music Society is the official backing organisation of the library and became a charity in 2014.
Users of the library include well known symphony orchestras, orchestras in educational establishments, the BBC, recording companies, light orchestras and combinations and many smaller ensembles, both professional and amateur. Many requests are for music that would be difficult, if not impossible, to obtain elsewhere.
As well as sending out music for performance and recording, the library also has an important heritage function. The collection offers a unique insight into the music actually played in concert venues and ballrooms from the early 1800s to the present day. Orchestral selections, often formed into dances like lancers and quadrilles, give a practical record of the popular songs and the stage shows of this whole period. As such, the library may be of interest to musicologists and researchers.