Library Collections

Library Collections

The Library contains collections from Newcastle University (Cowen), the Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN) and the Society of Antiquaries Newcastle upon Tyne (SANT).  

It is a unique Library that can be used by everyone. However, you must be a member of Newcastle University, NHSN or SANT in order to borrow books from their collections. 

Most books can be found in the Library, but there are more items in our Controlled Access area and in our off-site store at the Cowen Resource Centre. Please speak to the Librarian in advance of your visit if you wish to access items from these areas.

Cowen Collection

Newcastle University School of History, Classics and Archaeology

With material from the 18th century to the current day, the Cowen Collection includes over 9000 books and a range of journals and offprints. It provides an excellent research resource for students, academics and general study. 

Included in the collection are: 

  • A wide range of local, national and international archaeological excavation reports.   
  • Books on local and regional archaeology, especially Hadrian’s Wall. 
  • Books on archaeological theory and practice. 
  • A large collection of the British Archaeological Reports series. 
  • Material on Roman archaeology, Egyptology and the archaeology of the Mediterranean, especially the Byzantine Empire. 

NHSN Collection

Natural History Society of Northumbria

NHSN began acquiring material for its library from its foundation in 1829. The NHSN Collection now contains over 10,000 books and around 500 journal titles, around 100 of which are still current. It is an impressive and comprehensive collection dedicated to the natural world. 

The collection contains: 

  • A wide range of field guides for birds, plants, mammals and insects covering the local region and beyond. 
  • A collection of books and journals on all aspects of the natural world including ecology, geology, evolutionary theory and conservation. 
  • Biographies of noted naturalists, books on the history of natural history and in natural history illustration as an art form. 
  • Many rare and wonderfully illustrated books on natural history with the earliest publications dating back to the 16th century. 

North East Nature Archive

Natural History Society of Northumbria 

The archive holds NHSN’s own records, dating from its foundation in 1829 and including the history of the Museum. 

The archive includes: 

  • Manuscripts, letters, diaries and notebooks and other material relating to renowned northern naturalists, including those of John, Albany and Mary Jane Hancock. 
  • Many original works by naturalist and artist Thomas Bewick. 
  • Watercolour paintings by botanist and artist Margaret Rebecca Dickinson 
  • Many rare and wonderfully illustrated books, including Edward Lear’s Illustrations of Parrots. 

The archive material is available to view by appointment only - please contact NHSN to arrange an appointment. 

SANT Collection

Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne

SANT was founded in 1813 and since then has been acquiring material for its extensive and unique library. The collection contains over 10, 000 books, the earliest dating back to the 17th century, and more than 300 journal titles, a number of which are still current.  Also available are around 1800 tracts which include a wide range of fascinating pamphlets, and other ephemera on a diverse range of subjects. The collection is particularly strong in the areas of local history and archaeology incorporating a rich collection of material on Hadrian’s Wall, Roman Britain and the heritage of Tyneside.  

Also available in the collection are: 

  • Local directories and Poll Books dating back to the 18th century. 
  • Extensive material on the history of coins and tokens. 
  • 17th century publications relating to the northern region’s role in the English Civil War. 
  • A full set of the Proceedings of the Society and its scholarly journal, Archaeologia Aeliana. 

Children’s Collection

We have a small collection of children’s books within the Library that relate to the Museum. It contains reference books about history, archaeology, science and nature, as well as picture books.  

Books within this collection are aimed at our younger visitors who might want to find out more or just have a moment of quiet in the Museum. 

Children in the Library must be supervised at all times.