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UCL Special Collections

UCL Library Special Collections is one of the foremost university collections of manuscripts, archives and rare books in the UK.

Temporary Partial Closure

Owing to the outbreak of Coronavirus (Covid-19) UCL Special Collections has suspended some of its services. All Reading Rooms are closed for the foreseeable future as our collections are currently not accessible.

Please see information relating to UCL's response to the Covid-19 outbreak. Information relating to wider library closures at UCL can also be found.

Our staff are now all working from home, but we will endeavour to answer your emails as usual. Where possible, we will be working to support your research and teaching online, and making our schools and outreach programme available virtually.

Our Digital Collections and our catalogues remain online and available for your use. We’ve also created a Primary Sources reading list of digitised books, manuscripts and archives available from other institutions.

Please contact us with any enquiries.

Collection Highlights

Finding Material

For more information on how to find material held by UCL Special Collections, learn about Our Collections.


News from our blog

Conserving the UCL Islamic Treasures: Masnavi-I Akbar Sultan: MS Pers/1

UCL’s Special Collections contains UCL’s collection of historical, academic and culturally significant works.  It is one of the foremost university collections of manuscripts, archives and rare books in the UK. Included in its holdings is a collection of Islamıc manuscripts, Masnavi-i Akbar Sultan (“Romance of the Sultan Akbar”), (MS PERS/1), is one of the manuscripts in this collection.

The conservation of this manuscript was carried out by Fatma Aslanoglu, Project conservator 

London History Maps

The retrospective cataloguing team recently embarked on a project creating records for London History Maps, ca. 300 Special Collections maps, atlases and panoramas of London and the surrounding area.

The size of some of the maps was a little problematic (see images!), and finding appropriate locations to safely examine them was difficult in the busy Science Library. With a little planning, however, we were able to schedule map cataloguing time for when the office is at its emptiest, and at times (carefully) use floor space as well as any available desk space.

The New Era journal 1921-1999, now available online

The WEF was founded in 1921 as the New Education Fellowship, later changing its name to the World Education Fellowship. The central focus of the organisation has been child-centred education, social reform through education, democracy, world citizenship, international understanding and the promulgation of world peace.

How to be a student book collector (and apply for the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize)

This year, UCL Special Collections is hosting the Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize, to be awarded to a current student studying towards a degree at a London-based university. For many students, the label of ‘book collector’ is a grandiose one, and while the tiny space on their bed-side table may be crammed with text books and novels these don’t seem to match the image conjured up by the words ‘book collection’.

The Power of Print

The Outreach team at UCL Special Collections have spent a great six weeks delivering an after school club to Year 7, 8 and 9 pupils at William Ellis School. Pupils attended in their free time to explore how written texts have been produced through the ages and to learn about some of the ways printing has influenced western society.

Louis Arnaud Reid: Philosopher, Educator, Artist

One of my first tasks as a project archivist at UCL has been to catalogue the papers of the philosopher and educator Louis Arnaud Reid. Reid became the first Professor of Philosophy at the Institute of Education, and was a strong advocate of the importance of art in education. He retired in 1962, but continued writing and teaching as an emeritus professor right up until his death in 1986 at the age of 90. These papers were donated by his widow Molly.

Insanity Times: R. D. Laing, A Stone Circle, A UFO and The Rolling Stones

Our first UCL Special Collections Visiting Fellow, Adrian Chapman (Florida State University London Centre), writes below about the research that arose from his fellowship with us during the summer of 2019, working on our Small Press Collections.

Consider the following elements. R. D. Laing, a radical Scottish psychiatrist who lived from 1927 to 1989. A Neolithic stone circle. A flying saucer. And The Rolling Stones.

Erasmus+ intern in UCL Special Collections

My name is Ibolya Jurinka. I am spending 3 months in UCL Special Collections as an Erasmus+ intern. Erasmus+ is not only a student exchange programme; it also provides overseas opportunities for all employees wishing to gain practical learning experiences from partner organisations in higher education.

I come from Hungary. I have been working as a librarian at the University Library and Archives of the Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE).

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