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.
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.
- You can search for rare books and other printed material on Explore.
- Archives and manuscripts are found on the Archives Catalogue.
- Search for digitised and digital content on Digital Collections.
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
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.
Nine ladies dancing: Let’s dance! A party in the margin livening up this 1534 edition of Polydore Vergil’s History of England.
Eight maids a-milking: image taken from Commentarii, in libros sex Pedacii Diocordes Anazarbei, de medica meteria, which in turn features in Treasures From UCL (2015).
Seven swans a-swimming: well just about, with the assistance of ultra-high-tech imaging trickery. Eleazar Albin’s A Natural History of Birds appearing once again.
Six geese a-laying: bean, white-fronted, Egyptian, barnacle, brant, red-breasted (with some of their eggs to tie things together), all courtesy of 19-century ornithologist, Francis Orpen Morris.
Five gold rings: back in the conservation studio, certain precautions should be taken before a pigment consolidation job . . .
Four calling birds: and their song in musical notation (‘to to toto to to!’), from Athanasius Kircher’s Musurgia universalis (1650). The parrot, imitating human speech, is saying hello in Greek instead . . .
Not quite three French hens, but one French lesson, at the Open Air School in Regent’s Park, c1919. Schools like this were opened to promote better health in children – all lessons took place outdoors whatever the weather, to give students maximum exposure to fresh air.
IOE Archives, reference LFB/24
Two turtle doves: one from India, one from Jamaica, both from Eleazar Albin’s A Natural History of Birds (the first English book on birds with colour illustrations).
It’s the first day of December. Time to launch our Advent calendar. This year’s theme is based on the seasonal carol, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. Throughout the month we’ll be posting Special Collections-inspired images/blogs for each of the 12 days, beginning with a partridge in a pear tree. We wanted to take a bold, experimental, and daring approach, so we hope you’ll forgive our decision to start Twelvetide a bit earlier than usual. Happy Christmas!
A partridge in a pear tree: in the conservation studio, the use of non-acid-free paper is best kept for tea breaks . . .