We hold over 40,000 rare books and five kilometres of archives and manuscripts. We work to share these collections with everyone – for research, learning, inspiration and enjoyment.
The University of Reading’s main collections of rare books and archives are diverse and surprising. The majority result from donations: the tradition of acquiring special material is as old as the University, the bequest of the Overstone Library in 1920 setting a pattern. The collecting of manuscripts and archives began in a systematic way in the 1960s, and from the start has been dominated by the programme to collect and manage British publishers’ archives.
Two of our collections, The Samuel Beckett Collection and the Archive of British Printing and Publishing, are designated collections under Arts Council England’s Designation Scheme.