Exploring our libraries and collections

The libraries & collections in and around Durham provide rich resources for research across a wide range of disciplines.

There are particularly extensive and significant materials relevant for subjects such as theology and religion, politics, music, the history of the book, visual and performance culture and ritual, world cultures, and the history of the north east. As well as these areas there are also sources for the study of natural sciences, mathematics, art history, architecture, geography and exploration, literature, philosophy, continental history, and the history of education.

Download the guidelines for researchers at Durham University museums

Using the libraries

Durham University

Durham University is home to a collection of around 6000 Western Art works, largely from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and is especially strong in print-based work. The collection has been built up over an extended time period but particularly so in the last five years. It features work by some of the twentieth century ‘s most significant and prolific artists.

The Oriental Museum

The museum’s has over 32,000 artworks and artefacts from African and Asian cultures, including exceptionally significant Ancient Egyptian and Chinese collections granted special Designated Status

The Museum of Archaeology

This museum’s collection largely focuses on North East England archaeology but also holds national and international artefacts, much excavated by Durham University, with detailed archives.

The Castle Museum

As part of the Durham UNESCO World Heritage site, the museum and holds collections relating to the history of Durham Castle, the Prince Bishops, and University College, as well as oil paintings, tapestries, arms and armour, silver, crockery, and furniture.

Palace Green Library

The library holds over 70,000 pre-1850 volumes including 300 incurables, 100+ medieval manuscripts, 3,400 metres of archives and artefacts, 30,000+ maps & prints, and 100,000 photogaphs, plus the Cosin, Bamburgh & Routh family libraries of significant historical interest.

Durham Cathedral

Durham Cathedral’s archives are one of the most complete and extensive monastic archives surviving in their original location in Britain.

Dating back to the late 11th century, the archives are exceptionally significant for researching the medieval period and post-Dissolution social and economic history of northeast England. Holdings also include important maps and architectural drawings.

The Cathedral Library’s collection of 30,000 printed books spans the 15th to 19th centuries across its Chapter Library, 1473 Sharp lending library focused on modern theology, and music collections of choir organ and part-books. Within the Cathedral itself lie Anglo-Saxon artefacts plus paintings, carved stones, textiles, the 17th century Auckland Castle plate commissioned by Bishop Cosin, and other precious metalwork, manuscripts and objects.

Ushaw House & Chapels

Durham Cathedral’s archives are one of the most complete and extensive monastic archives surviving in their original location in Britain.

Dating back to the late 11th century, the archives are exceptionally significant for researching the medieval period and post-Dissolution social and economic history of northeast England. Holdings also include important maps and architectural drawings.

The Cathedral Library’s collection of 30,000 printed books spans the 15th to 19th centuries across its Chapter Library, 1473 Sharp lending library focused on modern theology, and music collections of choir organ and part-books. Within the Cathedral itself lie Anglo-Saxon artefacts plus paintings, carved stones, textiles, the 17th century Auckland Castle plate commissioned by Bishop Cosin, and other precious metalwork, manuscripts and objects.