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Printed Special Collections, Hartley Library: Home

The collections contain over 50,000 books on a wide range of subjects, with publications dating from the fifteenth century to the present day.


General enquiries about Printed Special Collections contact:

Jenny Ruthven


tel. 023 80593335

Search Room Bookings:


tel. 023 80592721


Special Collections, Hartley Library, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton SO17 1BJ

Special Collections Home Page


WebCat contains records for most Special Collections books and journals, but some of the older material is listed only in the Card Catalogue on level 4.

Check the individual guides for catalogue information for each collection.

DelphiS enables you to search across WebCat and the Library's electronic databases. You will need a University login to access full-text resources.

Related E-Book Collections

Access to some collections is restricted to members of the University.


Welcome to the Printed Special Collections Guide which describes the collections held at the Hartley Library, their value for teaching, learning and research and how you can access the material.

Special Collections is the home of the early and rare books from the Library's general collections and the named collections which have been presented to the University over the years. These range in size from a few hundred titles to several thousand volumes and include printed books, pamphlets, journals, maps, prints, photographs and postcards. Within the collections there are examples of both the earliest printed books and the latest printed ephemera.

The collections are open to all to use.

Images from the Collections

Steep Hill

About the Collections

The University Library's Printed Special Collections are unusual in including rare books, stored and read in secure areas and modern publications, which are on open access and available for loan.

At Southampton 'rare books' are those printed before 1801 (currentlly being extended to 1851), or those of a later date, which are of significance or value because of their content, scarcity, condition or association. The books are stored separately in environmentally controlled conditions, to ensure their preservation.

The modern publications are found in the named collections - private collections which are generally acquired by donation or deposit. Such collections often have a subject focus and it is the range of material that they contain, which contributes to their value.

Using the Collections

The printed collections are open to members of the University and to the wider community.

To explore the resources available and find out if they can be of help in your study, teaching or research, use the tabs above or contact Special Collections.

Opening Hours

Special Collections Open Access Area

Open access material can be used whenever the Hartley Library is open.

Archives Search Room

Monday to Friday

09:30 - 17:00

Location and Access

Modern books and journals are usually shelved in the Special Collections Open Access Area on level 4 of the Hartley Library.

Rare Books and Illustrations are fetched for use in the Archives Search Room, also on level 4.

Microform material is housed in the Microform Area on level 1.

Check the individual guides for the location of each collection.

If you do not have a University I.D. Card, you will need to show photographic I.D. on entering the Hartley Library and on entering the Search Room, a form of I.D. which shows your permanent residential address.

Reprographic Services

Open access material can be photocopied. The nearest photocopiers are behind the main staircase on level 4.

If you are not a member of the University, you will need to obtain a Guest Account login from either the Special Collections Enquiry Office or Hartley Library Reception.

Bound volumes in Rare Books cannot be photocopied but you can request photographic or microfilm copies, subject to the age and condition of the item.

See Reprographic Services for a list of the types of copy available and charges.

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