How do I access the Special Collections?
You can access our Special Collections both in person (as a reader) and increasingly online.
Most Special Collections are held at The John Rylands Library.
Other collections are held at the Main Library on the Oxford Road campus. These include the archives of the University of Manchester, Christian Brethren Archives, the Map Collection, many scientific and medical archives, and post-1800 medical books.
We offer a closed-access reader service which means that items must be pre-ordered. They are then retrieved by staff and brought to your desk in the Reading Room. Special Collections items cannot be borrowed.
Staff and students of the University of Manchester are automatically registered as Special Collections readers. Library membership is also open to everyone over the age of 16.
Our Special Collections Access Policy is available to download as a PDF.
Find out how to use the Special Collections Reading Rooms. One is located at The Rylands Library, in the city centre. The other is at the Main Library on the Oxford Road campus.
The Library houses one of the most important collections in the world relating to the birth and development of Western printing and the history of the book.
Our archives date from medieval times to the present and are internationally significant. They cover a wealth of subject areas and can support research and learning in a wide range of fields.
Holdings of individual manuscripts now cover more than fifty languages, including all the major European and Middle Eastern languages, and numerous South Asian and Far Eastern ones too.
The Library holds significant collections of art works, objects and photography.
The main strength of the map collection is in our holdings of UK mapping, current and historical, with both topographic (general purpose) and thematic (special purpose) series.