At the heart of the Library's physical collections are the Special Collections, which attract the interest of thousands of researchers from around the world every year.
They include five major collections that bear the prestigious 'Designated' status first awarded in 2005 by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) to a select group of the country's premier collections. No other UK library has so many individual designated collections recognised for their national and international importance.
one of the world's leading collections for studying Russian history and culture outside Russia.
documentation of the personal First World War experiences of over 6,000 individuals through their letters, diaries, photographs and interviews.
thousands of printed and hand-written cookery books from the fifteenth century to the present.
rare books and manuscripts documenting the culture and history of Gypsies.
the largest and richest of all the collections, its quality symbolised by the presence of the iconic 'First Folio' edition of Shakespeare's plays (1623).
Our collections are more international than local in their content as well as their significance. None of these large 'Designated' collections, which together account for under a quarter of the Special Collections, is essentially concerned with events or achievement in Leeds or Yorkshire. Nevertheless, we do have particular strengths in material of a local nature embedded in our wider interests.
These collections and many others are amongst the best of their kinds in Britain. Their strength and value is greatly enhanced by almost 3 million more printed items in the Library's loan collections; amongst these openly-accessible materials are substantial groups regarded as 'heritage collections' in their own right.
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