Special Collections

Welcome to the Special Collections pages. Information Services holds a unique and rare collection of special materials. We hope our collections can be used for learning and research, as well as general interest.

Viewing is by appointment only. We will contact you to arrange an appointment once the material is available.

Highlights from our collections:

Commemoration of World War One
A series of articles about the Welsh Experience of the First World War, placing our special collections in their historical context.

George Powell collection
A collection of books, manuscripts and objets d'art donated and bequeathed by George Powell of Nanteos between 1879 and 1882. Included in the collection is an eight volume set of Warburton’s edition of Shakespeare published in 1747. It was used by Samuel Johnson in the preparation of his dictionary and the pages are accordingly heavily marked and underlined.

Appleton collection
The Appleton Collection includes material on colour printing and publishers' case binding from about 1840 to 1890.

Horton collection
The Horton Collection of Children’s Material contains over 800 items showing the development of children’s literature during the two hundred years from the mid-eighteenth century to 1913. 


Guidlines for viewing rare books

The items in the special collections in our libraries are of antiquarian value, examples of fine printing or regarded as classics. Many of these collections are held in humidity controlled locations and access to them is restricted.

Brief catalogue records are available and can be searched at: http://primo.aber.ac.uk/. The production of full catalogue records for rare book collections is ongoing. When you have located an item you wish to consult in the Library, submit a request online.


  • Please use pencil only to make notes (Ink, correction fluid and pens are not allowed to be used near the material).
  • Ensure hands are clean and try not to touch or handle the pages more than necessary as acids and oils in the skin can damage paper (no hand gel).
  • Gloves do not need to be worn.
  • A book pillow is available for supporting fragile, large or tightly bound items.
  • Bindings should be opened as little as possible and please always support the spine.
  • Eating and drinking is not permitted when consulting rare books.
  • Photographs without a flash may be taken.


‌How to access our collections 

Searching Primo, the library catalogue for our collections


Special Collections blog

Our blog is dedicated to the new displays and collections of rare books and archives available at Aberystwyth University.

What can the Special Collections do for you?