The University of Reading’s Special Collections consists of the University’s main collections of rare books and archives, which are both diverse and surprising. These are shared with the University’s wider network of museums and collections, and are available for all: for research, learning, inspiration, and enjoyment.

The collections include rare books, archives and manuscripts, and are substantial and varied, particularly for a university of our age and size.

The majority of our collections result from donations. The tradition of acquiring special material is as old as the University itself, with a historic pattern that began with the bequest of the Overstone Library in 1920.

The collecting of manuscripts and archives began in a systematic way in the 1960s. From the start, this has been dominated by a programme to collect and manage British publishers’ archives, in which the collection today is internationally authoritative.

Two of our collections, the Samuel Beckett Collection and the Archive of British Printing and Publishing, are Designated Collections under the Arts Council England’s Designation Scheme.

Explore our rare books, archives and manuscripts by vistiting the University’s Special Collections website. Alternatively, learn about using the University collections, or discover the other collections across the University.