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Explore our vast collection of books, archive documents, photographs, newspapers, illustrations, periodicals and maps.

From 15th century incunabula to modern research and digital content, we have something for everybody.

Highlights include the extensive Welsh and Celtic collections in the Salisbury Library, a broad range of British and continental rare books, and modern research archives dedicated to the history of medicine and science.

Print collections

Salisbury Library

A large personal library of Welsh studies books, once owned by Enoch Robert Gibbon Salisbury (1819-1890). Prior to the establishment of the National Library of Wales, Salisbury accumulated a collection of about 13,000 books in Welsh, or related to Wales and the Border Counties, and compiled valuable scrapbooks of maps and prints. In 1886, Salisbury was forced to sell his collection, due to financial difficulties.

Salisbury’s books were acquired by the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1885. That institution would become Cardiff University, and Salisbury’s books would form the nucleus of the University Library. As well as including historical, literary, religious, social, and linguistics works from the 16th-19th centuries, the library is home to rare and distinct sub-collections of Welsh ballads, almanacshymnology, and works by Richard Baxter (1615-1691).

Cardiff Rare Books

In a bid to become home to a national library for Wales, from the late 19th century onward Cardiff City Council built up a remarkable collection of books at its Central Library. The Cardiff Rare Books represent the core of the English and Continental rare books in that collection. Recognising its significance as a national collection, it was acquired by Cardiff University from Cardiff City Council in 2010, with the support of the Welsh Government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales. Among its strengths are 15th century incunabula, early modern English and Continental works from the Renaissance and Reformation, Bibles, a world-class collection of Restoration drama, a notable atlases collection, significant holdings on natural history, topography and travel, and a collection of international significance of books from British private presses operating in the 19th and 20th centuries, as well as limited editions and fine bindings.

Other special collections

We are home to a number of important historical music collections, including family libraries formerly owned by Herbert Mackworth (1737-1791) and Theodore Aylward (1844-1933). We also hold a large collection of works by Alfred Lord Tennyson, the Osman collection on the history of journalism, the library of the Cardiff Astrological Society, a children's literature collection, and the full works of critic Raymond Williams.

Archive collections

Use Archives Hub to explore Cardiff University’s institutional records, student newspapers, and many personal archives, including correspondence, diaries, notebooks and photographs from writer Edward Thomas, composer Morfydd Owen, and artist W. G. Collingwood.

Digital collections

COMING SOON: Digital Special Collections is a growing resource of digitised books, archives, music scores, newspapers, maps, and photographs from the 17th century to the present day. All of our IIIF-enabled digital content is freely available to view and re-use under a Creative Commons license.

Historical books on shelves in special archives

Print collections

Discover our print collections of books, periodicals and newspapers from the 15th century onwards, including continental incunabula, English Restoration drama, the Salisbury Library, and more.

Special collections and archives working space

Archive collections

Explore our large collection of historical and modern archives: correspondence, diaries, notebooks and photographs from Edward Thomas, Morfydd Owen, W. G. Collingwood, and more.

Digital collections

Browse our growing collection of digital content on the Internet Archive, freely accessible to all.

Special collections and archives exhibition space


Browse digital highlights of past exhibitions