Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections

Special Collections, through the Cadbury Research Library, manages the University’s key collections of archives, rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and associated artefacts. Special Collections also administers the Modern Records Service, which is a secure, managed storage facility for the University’s current and semi-current paper-based records.

Use of the collections

The collections cared for by the Cadbury Research Library are used extensively in University teaching and research programs. We also have strong links with other regional, national and international institutions, engaging in outreach and collaborative projects which benefit both the University and the broader community.

Central to Special Collections is the concept that collections should be embedded in research and teaching at Birmingham, and that they enrich the university environment, stimulating new thinking and creativity.

Cadbury Research Library

The collections made accessible by the Cadbury Research Library have been built up over a period of a hundred and twenty years and consist of over 200 000 rare printed books, including significant incunabula, alongside over four million unique archive and manuscripts collections. The Cadbury Research Library also cares for the University’s own heritage collection which includes records of the founding and growth of the university dating back to 1826 and forward to the present day. 

The Cadbury Research Library, housed in the Muirhead Tower, includes a 45-seat reading room open to staff, students and the public, with specialist staff on hand to aid researchers, an active teaching program, fully-equipped conservation studio and a reprographics service. 

A regular schedule of talks and events is on offer to introduce staff, students and the community to the collections. The Cadbury Research Library has an exciting public exhibitions program, both in its own exhibition facilities and by loaning objects from the collections to other institutions, including for example the Birmingham Museums Trust and the Getty Foundation in the USA.

Modern Records Store

The Modern Records Store (MRS) is managed on behalf of the University by Special Collections and provides a service for the storage of current and semi-current paper records. We work with all areas of the University to advise them on effective records management practices linked to the storage of their records. The Modern Records Store is an invaluable facility enabling departments to store their records safely and effectively, meeting relevant legal legislation, and freeing up valuable office space.

Innovative projects

The Special Collections team are involved in innovative projects to promote access to the collections and engaged in the recent development of the Virtual Manuscript Room which provides online access to the internationally significant Mingana Collection.

Research Library staffDetail from a Persian manuscript


Professional Services