For 300 years the Library has been at the heart of the Society, helping to shape our understanding of the past.

The Library is the largest antiquarian library in the country, with an outstanding collection of more than 130,000 books dating from the fifteenth century to the present day, monograph series, approximately 3000 current and historic journal titles, manuscripts and archives, and prints and drawings.

It covers British and European archaeology, architectural history, art history and the decorative arts (especially medieval), the historic environment, and British local history. Its collection of county historical and archaeological publications is one of the most comprehensive in the country, as its collection of European journals.

Our special collections include 2,000 proclamations from 1464 to the mid-nineteenth century, 1,000 broadsides including a printed indulgence from 1513, the Lowther collection of Civil War tracts, the Fairholt Collection on pageantry, the Prattinton Collection on Worcestershire, the Jackson Collection on Wiltshire, the Willson Collection on Lincolnshire, the archives of the Society of Dilettanti and the Roxburghe Club Library.

You can explore highlighted objects from our collections with our 'Unlocking Our Collections' series.


Fellows wishing to consult material that needs retrieving by staff (manuscripts, archives, prints and drawings, and printed items on closed access) are asked to order material in advance.

External researchers must make an appointment in advance to use the Library. We cannot guarantee that research visits at short notice or without an appointment can be accommodated. Please consult our Guidelines for Researchers for further information about accessing our collections. If you have any queries, or would like to arrange an appointment, please contact the Library at

Opening times

The Library’s normal opening times are Monday to Friday 10am - 5pm (and 10-6.30 pm on most Thursdays from October to May when Ordinary Meetings are held at Burlington House).

The Library will be closing at 3.30pm on Monday 9 March to faciliatate n Society event.