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College Library is a rare book and manuscript library of international importance. Established soon after the foundation of the college in 1440, it houses more than 150,000 items, ranging in date from the 10th to 21st centuries. These include printed and manuscript volumes, literary manuscripts, autograph letters, and prints and drawings. The College Archives are also housed in College Library and are administered by the College Archivist.
The library has become remarkable in part because so much has been preserved over the centuries. Its earliest collections were predominantly theological. Changes in taste and thought are reflected in subsequent additions, which include large numbers of classical books and manuscripts, early scientific works, historical and literary texts in modern languages, and books treasured primarily for their aesthetic or archival interest. In the 1960s the college embarked on a new programme of collecting rare books and manuscripts of the 19th and 20th centuries. The modern collections include important holdings in English literature and are rich in travel writing, theatrical history and fine printing. In recent years College Library also has taken on responsibility for the Macnaghten Library of First World War materials, presented to Eton as a memorial in 1938. The library has been fortunate to receive a number of recent benefactions and continues to build the collections in areas of existing strength, and also to support teaching.
The College Library and Archives are open to researchers and are used for teaching Etonians and groups from other schools. Materials from the collections also are lent to exhibitions in the United Kingdom and abroad. We welcome visitors to explore the collections and offer the following facilities and services:
readers' room for researchers
on-site and remote reference services
regularly changing exhibitions
specialist group and school visits
imaging services (for image requests, please contact the Collections Administrator)
By appointment - Monday-Friday, 9.30am-1pm and 2pm-5pm
Closed on bank holidays and between Christmas and New Year
01753 370 590 (telephone)
01753 801 507 (fax)