Library holdings

The University Library

The University Library is the second largest in England outside of copyright libraries, and provides extensive research material in all Arts subjects taught at Leeds.

It has a total stock of over 2.7 million items. The Library is a founder member of the twenty-strong Consortium of University Research Libraries in the UK. Together these libraries' holdings are greater than that of the British Library and account for a large proportion of the total national university library holdings.

As a major research library the University Library has extensive holdings of facsimiles, microfilms and microfiches of primary materials, and excellent bibliographic resources. The extensive collection of electronic databases includes the following, which are of particular interest to medievalists: the Library of Latin Texts On-line, the Patrologia Latina Database, In principio (Incipit Index of Latin Texts), The Illustrated Incunabula Short Title Catalogue on CD-ROM, and the International Medieval Bibliography. Other electronically stored information includes the Guide to Source Materials for Medieval Studies which also lists bibliographic information specific to Medievalists.

Selected notable individual collections

The Brotherton Collection, a celebrated collection of rare books and manuscripts, contains important medieval manuscripts and incunabula. Its nucleus is the private library of Lord Brotherton, presented to the University after his death in 1930 together with funds to finance its growth. A list of the medieval manuscripts is available for consultation, and new items continue to expand the collection. 

The Melsteth Icelandic Collection is a collection of some 13,000 volumes and pamphlets gathered by Mr Bogi Melsteth. This material has since been augmented by many gifts from Iceland. It is one of the finest collections of Icelandic material in the world.

The Archives of the Dean & Chapter of Ripon are collections containing medieval manuscripts and documents. The Library has on long-term deposit both the old library of Ripon Cathedral, especially rich in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century theological works, and the Archives of the Dean and Chapter of Ripon.

The Roth Collection contains post-Biblical Judaica, and includes manuscripts of many types, some of which are medieval. This material was originally collected by the late Dr Cecil Roth.

The Oriental Manuscript Collection forms part of the University Library holdings, and contains over 500 manuscripts, some of which are medieval. Most of the manuscripts are Arabic and Persian and there are also several in other oriental languages, such as Syriac, Hebrew and Turkish.

The Rigby Collection contains 3500 glass slides taken in 1940-51. It covers all aspects of medieval ecclesiastical architecture in the UK and mainland Europe. The slides are of cathedrals, abbeys and 500 parish churches. Also of note are the 800 that cover important French churches.

The Yorkshire Archaeological and History Society collection contains medieval and later manuscripts, as well as printed books, related to all areas of Yorkshire’s history. Acquired in 2016, the Society's collection contains many treasures related to the social, religious and cultural history of Yorkshire.

The University possesses a unique collection of nineteenth-century slides of medieval buildings. The majority of these slides are from the Godfrey Bingley Collection and the West Riding Collection, which provide a remarkable set of photographs of ancient monuments, churches, castles and domestic architecture as they were before restoration.