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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.

Reading Room Closure

Following the latest Government lockdown announcement and UCL guidelines, UCL Special Collections reading rooms are currently closed.

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 enquiry service remains open and with staff working from home, we recommend that you contact us by email.

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 and video tutorials on how to use these resources to find material held by UCL Special Collections, learn about Our Collections.


News from our blog

The Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize is now open for applications

Calling all budding book collectors studying at London universities! Would you like to win a £600 cash prize to grow your collection, a chance to present your collection to an international online audience and the opportunity to work with library and archive staff to select an item for UCL Special Collections?

Women of The Institute of Education

To start, I feel this post needs a disclaimer – there is no way I can cover all the inspiring women who have played important roles in the life of the Institute of Education. These are just snapshots, hopefully they will inspire people to look further and read more about these women. I have put them in order of date of birth, in an effort to equalise any hierarchy of perceived significance.

Explanation of abbreviations;

The New Curators Project

We are excited announce a new collaboration with Newham Heritage Month 2021.

Building on previous successes working with the London Borough of Newham’s Libraries and Archive and Newham Heritage Month, The New Curators Project will be a community curatorship project made especially for young adults aged 18-24 from Newham, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Tower Hamlets who do not have a university degree or more than 6 months paid experience in the cultural heritage field.

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.

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