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Special Collections

A close up image of an illuminated manuscript from Special Collections

Special Collections

Special Collections

Leeds University Library’s Special Collections is the home of hundreds of thousands of rare books, manuscripts, archives and art. Our collections offer a rich resource for staff, students, and the wider research community.

Our research centre has undergone significant improvements and you can now book to visit and consult material in the newly refurbished Brotherton Research Centre. Learn more about how to plan and book your visit.

Special Collections is currently undertaking a major refurbishment and reorganisation of some of its stores. Many collections have moved into temporary storage and are temporarily unavailable, and Special Collections will be closed from 8th August to 23rd September. Our enquiry and copying service will not be available during this period either. Please check the latest situation with the Research Centre team when making a booking.

Search the catalogue to find items of interest. Then you can order copies or add items to your basket to book an in-person visit or a virtual consultation.

Digitised parts of the collection are available online and can be searched, browsed and filtered through our advanced search.

The University Libraries strive to provide inclusive access to all. We are aware that there will be issues of bias and insensitivity within our historic collections, content and descriptions. Throughout 2022 we are developing approaches that will help us to address these concerns in a practical and balanced way. We are guided by archive and heritage sector development and University values.

We are pleased to consider offers of gifts of books, manuscripts, and objects. Please see our guidance on donating.

You can also contact us with any enquiries.

Explore our collections

Find out about our most important collections, discover what we have to offer for students and researchers from various subject disciplines and explore our historic items in detail.

Find out about our most important collections.

More on Our collections

Introductions to our collections by subject, and advice on how they can support various subject researchers.

More on Subject themes

Guest authors explore items from Special Collections in depth and examine their research potential

More on Research spotlights

Using collections

Everyone is welcome to come to visit us and use our Special Collections. Find out what you need to know about visiting, handling materials and making use of our copying and digitisation services.

Plan your visit

More on Plan your visit

Handling books and manuscripts

More on Handling books and manuscripts

Opening hours

More on Opening hours

Restricted access

More on Restricted access

Digitisation and copying

More on Digitisation and copying

Family and local history research

More on Family and local history research

For staff

We support teaching through teaching sessions, research seminars, and group study sessions. You can also download one of our teaching packs or use our online resources in your teaching.

More on Teaching support

Researchers at all levels are welcome to use our resources, and we actively encourage the use of Special Collections material as the main subject of academic research.

More on Research support


Dr Hillary Taylor, Lecturer at the Faculty of History, University of Cambridge, and currently our Be... More on A View from the Bedford Collection: The ‘Mystery’ of Mary Marsden’s Billhead
Dr Elizabeth West, ECR Fellow, Centre for Book Publishing and Culture, University of Reading wr... More on Norah Smallwood and her Correspondence
It’s getting to that time of year when we all want to get outside and soak up the sun! To satisfy ... More on Summer Travels with Robert Hawthorn Kitson!