The open access book collections at the University of Reading Special Collections Service can be found in the reading room and in the rooms on the open access library corridor, which is accessible from the reading room. You can search these items on the catalogue, which can be consulted online and in the reading room.

Books and other printed items from these collections are not available for loan, but are available for readers to browse and study in the reading room during their visit. Please return any books from these collections to the wooden trolley next to the photocopier after use.

Reference Collection

Located in the reading room and includes key reference works such as dictionaries, encyclopaedias, glossaries, Who’s Who and a selected number of books relating to the University Special Collections and the collections of The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL).

Older and rarer material from our stores can be made available to you in the reading room, by making a request with our reading room team.

Beckett Collection: published works

The Samuel Beckett Collection contains books by and about the Nobel Prize-winning writer, dramatist and poet, Samuel Beckett (1906-1989). These items can be found on the open access library corridor and are searchable via the catalogue. The collection contains nearly 500 editions of Beckett’s work in more than 20 languages, together with nearly 1,000 critical and biographical works and journals.

Knowlson Beckett open access book collection

The working library of James Knowlson, the author of Samuel Beckett’s biography Damned to fame: the life of Samuel Beckett (1996). Includes editions of Beckett’s works, critical works, journals and books on art, literature, theatre, poetry and other subjects that relate to the study of Beckett. The collection is located next to the Beckett Collection open access book collection on the open access corridor, and is searchable via the catalogue.

Mark Longman Library

The Mark Longman Library consists of around 4,000 books, pamphlets and journals on subjects relating to the history of the book, including bibliography, book production, publishing history and practice, readers, reading and librarianship. Formerly the “Books about books” collection donated to the National Book League by Maurice Marston, its first secretary, the collection was expanded following the launch of an appeal in 1972 in memory of Mark Longman, Chairman of the National Book League 1967-1971. Titles are searchable via the catalogue and can be found on the open access library corridor.

Evacuee collection

A collection of books on evacuation and wartime studies which forms part of the Evacuee and War Child Archive. The collection includes copies of journals, including Children in War. Titles are searchable via the catalogue and can be found on the open access library corridor.

University History Collection

Including calendars, diaries, staff and student magazines, relating to the University of Reading. Titles are searchable via the catalogue and can be found on the open access library corridor.

Museum studies books

Resources to support Museum Studies students are classified in the 1400s sequence at the beginning of the main The MERL library sequence.

The Library of The Museum of English Rural Life

Around 50,000 books, pamphlets and periodical volumes, searchable via the catalogue and mostly found on the open access library corridor. Older and rarer material from our stores can be made available to you in the reading room, by making a request with our reading room team.

The MERL classified information files are a collection of cuttings, containing articles from periodicals and newspapers. They are stored in the reading room and are organised by The MERL classification scheme.

The collections embrace farming through the ages, the development of agricultural technology, the history of food and diet, perceptions of the countryside, the social history of the countryside, garden and landscape design and history, the politics of land use, conservation issues, local history, estate management, and rural crafts and industries.