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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

UCL Special Collections Lates: The Colour of Spring

Our first Late was a sold-out success, so we’re very pleased to be able to announce the next event in our evening programme.

Inspired by the seasonal burst of many-hued blossoms outside our windows, we’d like to invite you to join us for The Colour of Spring, featuring a talk on how coloured light can reveal hidden secrets in Mediaeval manuscripts, a history of the educational movement the Woodcraft Folk, and displays of original material from UCL Special Collections.

Call for Papers: Paper Trails Conference, 4th July 2019

We are excited to announce that we’ll be hosting this year’s Paper Trails conference, working with Dr Andrew W M Smith (University of Chichister) alongside many other fantastic historians, researchers, archivists, librarians and educators. The conference is scheduled to take place at UCL on July 4th, 2019.

Dr Smith writes:

UCL Special Collections Launches Lates Programme

We are excited to be launching a series of evening talks for 2019, starting this month and running through to the next academic year.

We’ll be hosting sociable, relaxed after-work events,  perfect for anyone who is interested to come into UCL to learn about the wonderful rare books, archives and manuscripts that we hold here.  Each evening will present a particular topic or theme; talks and collection displays with wine, soft drinks and nibbles for all.  What more could anyone want?!

Special Collections for Schools: a continuing programme

January is always a good time to reflect on our achievements and look forward to our upcoming plans and projects. Read on to discover some of the Outreach team’s highlights from last year’s Special Collection’s schools programmes – and what to expect from them next…

Teacher CPD with First Story

Twelve drummers drumming

Twelve copies of The Drummer from the Alternative Press Collection. Founded in the 1967 and originally called Distant Drummer, the newspaper reported on Philadelphia’s radical/hippie community and served as a forum for commentary on local and national politics as well as the city’s music and arts scene. From 1971 until its demise in 1979, it was known simply as The Drummer.

Ten Lords A-leaping

We can go one better than the traditional ‘ten Lords’ and offer you ‘one royal’…

We’re not going to lie to you, this one is a bit tenuous. But we couldn’t resist the opportunity to share one of our most successful outreach projects to date.

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