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Find out about Special Collections

We are working hard to make our outstanding Special Collections more accessible to researchers, through cataloguing, digitisation and subject guides.

Overview

‌Our online Guide to Special Collections provides the best overview. It contains summary descriptions of hundreds of collections, with links to more detailed catalogues.

Rare books

The majority of our rare books are recorded in Library Search, which also includes digital images of many items.

Advanced Search gives you more search options.

Archives

Most archives are listed on Elgar, the Electronic Gateway to Archives at the Rylands.

However, some archives and most manuscript collections are still recorded in manual catalogues. Contact us for further information.

Manuscript collections

Very few of our manuscripts currently have detailed online catalogues. In many cases we still rely on printed or even hand-written catalogues, but many of these are now available in PDF format.

Visual collections

Very few of our works of art, photography or object collections have detailed online catalogues. However these collections are increasingly recorded in Library search, which also includes digital images of items.

Visual materials within our archives are catalogued on Elgar.

Maps

The majority of our maps are recorded in Library Search, which also includes digital images of many items.

Advanced Search gives you more search options.

Search digital collections

Our 'Search digital collections' section contains high-quality digital images of thousands of books, manuscripts, archives, maps and visual materials. These are free to download.

Contact us

It often helps to talk to Special Collections curators and other expert staff. We can advise you of sources – including uncatalogued material – that could support your research.