Durham Libraries-Durham, England

Interesting Facts:

  • Durham University founded in 1832 making it the 3rd oldest in England
  • Has 16 colleges: 14 in Durham, 2 in Stockton
  • Henry VIII wanted to start a college sooner, but he was a bit distracted.

While in Durham we visited three of the University’s libraries: The Bill Bryson Library, The Palace Green Library, and the Durham Cathedral Library.

Led to each of them by incredibly kind and knowledgeable librarian, Jon Purcell, we were treated to a whirlwind tour of Durham in the midst of graduation! I cannot wait to return one day and take a bit of time with each, but in the meantime this is what I learned!

The Bill Bryson Library:

  • Previously the Science Library, now holds the modern collections and serves as the main library centre
  • Has two large computer labs as well as laptops for in-library use
  • Center of library is a social hub, but the rest of the library is strangely quiet–Jon attributes this to the students high work standards
  • Continually researching ways to improve via student input
  • Award-winning design.

Palace Green /Bishop Cosin’s Library and University Conservation Centre:

  • Predates the University
  • Originally founded by Bishop Cosin in 1669
  • Served as the main University library until 1983
  • Now holds the Law and Music collections as well as special collection
  • Team of 3 conservators–working on books as well as pottery, bones, even silver
  • Conservation space converted from old reading room
  • Bishop Cosin’s library-largely theological and was purchased in France
  • French books destroyed in the French Revolution still housed in BC library
  • There are gorgeous paintings around the tops of the shelves in BC library. These were an early form of cataloging. The paintings pair with the books shelved below

Diviners’ Library in Ushaw College

  • Diviners’ Library was absolutely gorgeous, and while we could not take any pictures inside I was allowed to take a picture of the view from within. This college library, though not actively in use, still contains a wealth of rare manuscripts that are in the process of being digitized.


For more information on the above libraries visit the Durham University libraries website.

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