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Durham University Library

Address. Main Library: Stockton Road, Durham, DH1 3LY;[Map]
Special Collections: Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RN, England
Telephone. (0191) 374-3001 or -3032
Fax. (0191) 374-7481 (Main Library)
e-mail. [PG.Library@Durham.ac.uk]
Internet. http://www.dur.ac.uk/library/

Governing body or responsible institution. University of Durham
Functions. Undergraduate and research library.
Subjects. All subjects taught at the University of Durham; particularly strengths are orientalia, early printed books, political and ecclesiastical history, common and canon law, the natural sciences, early medicine, topography and travel, as well as the history of the North-East of England. Most pre-1850 printed material is held by Special Collections at the Palace Green site.

Access. Open to all researchers. A letter of introduction is not required but identification should be supplied. Advanced written requests are desirable. - Opening hours (Special Collections): Monday to Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The library is closed over the Christmas and Easter periods and visiting scholars are advised to check the opening times before travelling.
Special facilities. Photocopier, photography, photostat, microfilming and beta-radiography services, magnifiers, ultra-violet, infra-red and cold light sources, microfilm readers and printer.
Printed information. Durham University Library Archives and Special Collections; introductory guide [leaflet]. - Durham University Library, Printed special collections in the University Library, and other Durham libraries; a guide to catalogues [leaflet].
Travel directions. There are two sites (Main Library and Special Collections) which both can be reached by bus or taxi from the railway and bus stations. The Main Library is at the junction of Stockton and South Roads. The Special Collections are held at the Palace Green site which is next to the Cathedral.

 - Parking is very restricted on both sites.


1.1 The University Library was begun with the foundation of the University in 1833 and has benefitted from the acquisition of some earlier collections which are separately noticed below. Its large holdings of manuscript and early and rare printed books are mostly located at the Palace Green site and are administered by its Special Collections department but many 19th-century vols are to be found in the general stock in the Main University Library at Stockton Road, as is much oriental material. Also in the Special Collections holdings are numerous manuscript collections. Durham 1 Durham University Library


Chronological outline and analysis by language

2.1 The Special Collections printed books (both in the named collections dealt with below and in the general stock) comprise some 80,000 vols of about 88,000 titles up to 1850. There are 215 incunabula, 3,500-4,000 foreign 16th-century works, over 2,200 English works from 1500 to 1640 and about 9,500 English works from 1641 to 1700. No accurate breakdown by language can be undertaken at present but for the foreign material the greatest proportion is in Latin. Exact statistics are limited but Cosin's library (see below 2.5-2.6) possesses 1,090 items from presses in Germany dated 1484-1800, of which only 3 are in German. There are also some works in French printed in Geneva. Of the items so far catalogued in the Routh collection (see below 2.10 -2.11) about 10 per cent are from presses in Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Of these only 12 titles are in German.

Subject outline


2.2 Of the incunabula held by the University 75 are Germanic imprints, all entirely in Latin, with the exception of Hartmann Schedel's Latin Nuremberg Chronicle (Nuremberg 1493) which has had three leaves of the German edition of that year substituted. All holdings have been reported to ISTC. The incunabula are noticed separately by collection.

Post-incunabula; Bamburgh Library

2.3 The Bamburgh Library consists predominantly of the printed books collected by three generations of the Sharp family, all of whom were notable churchmen in the 17th and 18th century in the north of England. It is based on the collections of John Sharp (1644-1714), Archbishop of York, his sons John (1678-1727), MP for Ripon, Thomas (1693-1758), Archdeacon of Northumberland and Canon of Durham, and the latter's sons Thomas (1725-1772), Perpetual Curate of Bamburgh, and John (1723-1792), also Archdeacon and Canon. The library passed in the late 18th century to the trustees of Lord Crewe's Charity and was housed for much of the 19th century at Bamburgh Castle in Northumberland. The Crewe Trustees deposited it with the University in two parts, in 1938 and 1958. It is housed in the medieval Exchequer building, with the exception of the music collection, which was deposited in Durham Cathedral Library.

2.4 There are 199 items with German imprints out of 6,000 items catalogued so far (January 1999). The collection shows the interest and professional concerns of its owners and is strong in theology, history, science and classics, containing 320 foreign 16th-century titles. Leipzig, Strasbourg, Frankfurt a. M., Frankfurt/Oder, Zürich and Geneva all are represented by Latin works. The incunabula are principally English, although there are some foreign works such as the 1494 Strasbourg edition of Michael de Hungaria's Sermones. Other early examples of German printing include a 1533 edition of the Psalms from Freiburg and Joannes Guinterius's Anatomicarum institutionum libri (Basel 1539). Helmstedt imprints are represented by several volumes of dissertations dating from 1641 to 1680 for which Hermann Conring (1606-1681) acted as praeses.

Cosin Collection

2.5 Also sometimes known as Bibliotheca Episcopalis Dunelmensis, this collection was founded in 1669 by John Cosin (1595-1672), Bishop of Durham from 1660 to 1672. It was intended as an dowed public library for local clergy and people of scholarly interests, and is still housed in its original specially erected building. It is predominantly Cosin's personal collection, but also includes gifts from other benefactors including the printed books of Bishop Richard Trevor (1707-1771). No significant additions have been made since the early 19th century.

2.6 Cosin was in exile in France during the Commonwealth period and the foreign holdings in his collection reflect this. The printed stock contains over 5,000 titles, including 9 incunabula, over 600 foreign 16th-century titles, 541 STC and 841 Wing items. The collection is strongest in theology, liturgy and canon law, with a good representation of other subjects such as literature, travel and science. The German imprints most extensively represented are Cologne (1498-1690), Frankfurt a. M. (1557-1733), Hanover (1597-1730), Helmstedt (1559-1753), Jena (1599-1765), Leipzig (1569-1797), Strasbourg (1496-1668) and Wittenberg (1543-1735). The German imprints are mostly on Biblical history and chronology, ecclesiastical history and 16th and 17th-century religious controversy. Some of the 600 or so items in French include works of religious controversy published in Geneva and dating from the period of Cosin's exile in Paris. The Swiss imprints also include an author's presentation copy of the 1568 Zürich edition of Heinrich Bullinger's De origine erroris.

Howard Collection

2.7 This collection largely comprises the surviving undispersed part of the library of Lord William Howard of Naworth (1563-1640). This was housed in the book tower at Naworth Castle in Cumberland until 1992 when it was purchased by the University Library. It consists of c. 200 printed books, mainly 16th and early 17th century, which reflect Lord William's religious (Roman Catholic) faith and historical interests, with an interesting range of continental editions. Strasbourg, Cologne, Basel and Ingolstadt are all represented. The collection also possesses one of Durham's few Vienna imprints, which is Stanislaus Hosius's Confessio catholicae fidei christiana of 1561.

Kellett Collection

2.8 The collection contains part of the library of Dr C. E. de M. Kellett (1908-1978) with particular emphasis on the theory and teaching of medicine. It comprises nearly 200 pre-1800 works, predominantly French and Italian but with some works printed in Germany and Switzerland. There are 16th to 18th-century works from Geneva, Basel, Frankfurt a. M., Nuremberg and Hamburg. The earlier material includes Aristotle's Totius naturalis philosophiae Aristotelis paraphrases (Freiburg 1540) and Galen's De sanitate tuenda (Tübingen 1541).

Levison Bequest

2.9 This collection comprises the printed books, pamphlets, offprints and a few papers of the eminent historian of early medieval Europe, Prof. Wilhelm Levison (1876-1947). Levison worked on the staff of the Monumenta Germaniae Historica and at the University of Bonn but, being Jewish, was obliged to leave Germany in 1939 and lived in Durham until his death. Part of the printed material has been taken into the Main Library stock. Many of the Levison pamphlets and offprints are concerned with medieval German history and have Levison's annotations in connection with the compilation of Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Some items are rare in the United Kingdom.

Routh Collection

2.10 This is the library of Martin Joseph Routh (1755-1854), patristics scholar and President of Magdalen College, Oxford. Routh bequeathed his printed books to the University of Durham. These are now housed with the Bamburgh collection (see above 2.3) in the medieval Exchequer building on Palace Green. Routh's two major contributions to scholarship were his collection of the writings of early Church Fathers entitled Reliquiae sacrae and his edition of Gilbert Burnet's History of his own time. These interests are reflected in the collection which is strong in patristics and scripture, church history, and British religious and political controversy. Liturgy, classical and antiquarian studies, European and British history, bibliography, topography, travel, genealogy and philology are all represented.

2.11 This collection contains c. 20,000 titles, including 146 foreign incunabula, 1,189 STC and 4,509 Wing items as well as 305 foreign imprints between 1501 and 1536. By mid-1997 the foreign material re-catalogued (about half of the collection) contained some 800 titles with Germanic imprints, the majority coming from German towns, with about 100 Swiss and a few Austrian imprints. These are almost all in Latin, with significant holdings of 17th and 18th-century academic dissertations particularly from Leipzig. The subject matter is predominantly Biblical, classical, German and Scandinavian history. Of the incunabula one of the most notable is Breydenbach's Itinerarium in terram sanctam (Mainz 1486).

St. Chad's Deposit

2.12 The early printed books from the library of this University college are held by Special Collections. The holdings are principally religious with some 16th and 17th-century German imprints including Quintus Aurelius Symmachus's Epistolae familiares (Strasbourg 1510) and the Concilia omnia (Cologne 1538).

Winterbottom Collection

2.13 This collection consists of part of the library of Thomas Masterman Winterbottom (1766-1859), a local physician. It has suffered from reduction in 1928 but contains about 1,600 titles, largely 18th and 19th century. Strengths are travel literature, especially on Asia and Africa, and natural science. There are about 100 pre-1850 German titles forming a small but interesting representation of German literature, with some early editions of Schiller, Klopstock and Goethe. These include Schiller's Die Räuber (Mannheim 1788), the first edition of Klopstock's Oden (Hamburg 1771) and Goethe's Schriften (Leipzig 1775).


3.1 . Modern catalogues


In 1991 the Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) became the library's main catalogue: it contains records to modern standards (Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules) for items acquired from 1990.

Most non-Special Collections material acquired before 1990 is also represented on the OPAC but in the form of brief records. These are abbreviated versions of the entries in the Old Author Catalogue which used different cataloguing rules and as a result a person or corporate body may be on the OPAC under more than one form of name. These records are being upgraded. Special Collections material is gradually being added to the OPAC: records for some 75 per cent of the Routh Collection are available, the whole of the catalogue of the Cosin collection is online and some 6,000 records for items in the Bamburgh library are also available on the OPAC. The OPAC and the library's Archives and Special Collections pages are available on the Internet at http://www.dur.ac.uk/library.

Consortium of University Research

 Libraries (CURL)

[The University is a member of CURL, and all its library holdings recorded online are included in the COPAC

 union  catalogue:  http:/ /copac.ac.uk/copac./]

Old Author Catalogue

This was the library's main catalogue in sheaf-slip form until 1990 when it was closed. It continues to be the main catalogue for much of Special collections and also contains entries for most of the stock of Chapter and Sharp Libraries of Durham Cathedral. The copy of the Old Author Catalogue at Special Collections is a partial copy of that held by the Main Library and only includes material held at Palace Green and in the Cathedral Library. For details of further finding aids see below 3.2.

Imprint indexes, etc.

A sheaf catalogue of the imprints of Special Collections material is housed in the Special Collections reading room. This is not complete and principally covers the Cosin collection. Many items from various collections are also recorded in a card-index of imprints and places also held in the Special Collections reading room. Special Collections items being added to the OPAC can be accessed by imprint using the Place of publication index within the Rare books indexes.

3.2 Special catalogues and finding aids


Author catalogue

[based upon a print-out from the Incunabula Short Title Catalogue (ISTC), held in the Special Collections reading room; includes holdings of the Dean and Chapter library at Durham Cathedral and Ushaw College Library and is annotated with shelfmarks]

Bamburgh Library:

The Catalogue of the library at Bamburgh Castle in the county of Northumberland. 2 vols. London 1859.

Catalogue records for a small part of the collection are to be found in the Old Author Catalogue. An annotated copy of the published catalogue is housed next to the sheaf catalogues at Palace Green. This records almost all the items now present. Automated cataloguing is in progress and some 6,000 records are now available on the University OPAC (1999).

Howard Collection:

Interim finding list held in the Special Collections reading room

Kellett Collection:

Finding list held in the Special Collections reading room, incorporated into the Old Author Catalogue 3.2

Levison Bequest:

Sheaf catalogue

[Held in the Main Library; to be consulted on application at the desk. For the material added to the Main Library catalogue slips have been incorporated into the Main Library copy of the Old Author Catalogue but not into the copy at Palace Green. Short records are also available on the University OPAC although it is not possible from either of these sources to identify items as having come from the collection.]

Routh Collection:

Brief catalogue records are to be found in the Old Author Catalogue, although many of these are under out-moded headings. About 75 per cent of the collection now (1999) appears on the University OPAC.

St. Chad's Deposit:

Finding list held in the Special Collections reading room

Winterbottom Collection:

Bibliographical items are incorporated in the Old Author Catalogue.


4.1 Archival sources

There are early manuscript catalogues for the Winterbottom, Cosin and Bamburgh collections, borrowing registers for Bamburgh and Cosin and correspondence relating to the acquisition of the Routh library. Transcripts of some of the letters regarding Routh are available on the Archives and Special Collections pages on the Internet.

4.2 Publication

There is no recent history of the University Library.

Ramage, D.: The Durham Philobiblon. 2 vols. Durham 1949-69

[contains articles on the history of the library]


Durham University Library web site

(http://dur.ac.uk/library) has pages on Special Collections.

Burnett, A. D.; Knight, D. M.: History of science in Durham libraries. In: British Journal for the History of Science 8 [i.e. 28] (1975) pp. 94-99

Doyle, A. I.; Rainey, E. M. and Wilson, D. B.: Manuscript to print. Tradition and innovation in the Renaissance book. Durham 1975

Bamburgh Library

Doyle, A. I.: Unfamiliar libraries IV. The Bamburgh Library. In: The Book Collector 8 (1959) pp. 14-24

Cosin Collection

Doyle, A. I.: John Cosin (1596-1672) as a library maker. In: The Book Collector 40 (1991) pp. 335-357

Dubois, E.: La bibliothèque de l'évêque Cosin à Durham et sa collection de livres français de théologie et de spiritualité protestante des XVI et XVII siècles. In: Bulletin de la Soc. de l'histoire du protestantisme français (1982) pp. 175-188

Whiting, C. B.: Cosin's library. In: Transactions of the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland 9, no. 1 (1939) pp. 18-23

Howard Collection

Rainey, E. M.: The library of Lord William Howard (1563-1640) from Naworth Castle. In: Friends of the National Library. Annual Report (1992) pp. 20-23

Kellett Collection

Rainey, E. M.: The practical art of medicine. Early books from the Kellett Collection. (Exhibition catalogue.) Durham 1988

Routh Collection

Cooke, E. M.; Fraser, A. and McKinnell, J.: The Routh Collection, Durham University Library. A new online cataloguing project. In: Classiconorroena 9 (1997) pp. 1-6

Doyle, A. I.: Martin Joseph Routh and his books in Durham University Library. In: Durham University Journal 48 (1955-56) pp. 100-107

St. Chad's Deposit

Acomb, H. W.: Early printed books. In: St. Chad's College Magazine (1940) pp. 14-27

Winterbottom Collection

Emmerson, J. S.: On the gallery. In: University of Durham Medical Gazette 47 (1953) pp. 24-27

Emmerson, J. S.: Thomas Masterman Winterbottom, MD. University of Durham Medical Gazette 49 (1955) pp. 23-27

Menzies, S.: Thomas Masterman Winterbottom, MD, 1766-1859. In: D. Gardner-Medwin et al. (eds.): Medicine in Northumbria. Newcastle upon Tyne 1993, pp. 193-210

See also: a directory of rare book and special collections ...2nd ed. London 1997, pp. 70-75

January 1999

Alastair Hugh Fraser

Quelle: Handbuch der historischen Buchbestände in Deutschland. Digitalisiert von Günter Kükenshöner.
Hrsg. von Bernhard Fabian. Hildesheim: Olms Neue Medien 2003.