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Sharp Library Browse & Borrow

Access to our modern book collections in the Sharp Library is available through a new Browse & Borrow service. Readers can pick slots to borrow and return books from our modern book collections. Scroll down to ‘Library Opening Hours and Access’ for further details.

Explore our online catalogues and resources

See over 200 digitised medieval manuscripts from Durham's monastic library. Discover the Priory Library Project here.

Explore our library catalogues online, and learn more about our collections through the links below.

Serving the public and the world’s scholarly community

Our library can trace its origins to the library of the monastery founded at Lindisfarne by St Aidan in 635 AD.

It is the most complete in situ medieval monastic library in the UK.

Library opening hours and access

Our modern book collections

Access to our modern book collections in the Sharp Library and Chapter Library is available to readers by booking a 20-minute slot online through our Calendly booking system.

At present, slots are being offered at least three days a week on a first come, first served basis. Check the link above for current availability. 

Who can book a slot?
Anyone with a valid Diocesan Reader Card or a University Library Card may book a slot to borrow books from and return books to the Sharp and Chapter Libraries. 

Don’t have a reader card? No problem - book a slot and indicate on the booking form that you would like to apply for one. We will send you an application form via email for you to fill out in advance. Once we have processed your application during your visit, you can browse and borrow on the same day. Valid ID is required. Find out more information about free library membership.

What you need to know:

  • Slots are limited to 20 minutes – if you need access to specific books, please check availability via the university catalogue.
  • If you want to borrow a Chapter Library book, please indicate on the booking form in the space provided, or email us in advance so we can retrieve it for you before your visit.
  • Once you book a slot, you will receive a confirmation email with all the information of what to do when you get on site, and how to access the Sharp Library space in the Monk’s Dormitory.
  • Covid-safe cleaning will take place between each slot, for your safety and reassurance.

If you have any questions or queries about Browse and Borrow, send an email to and we will be happy to help. 

The Cathedral's special collections

Unfortunately, we are not able to offer special collections appointments at this time. 

We hope to be able to offer these later in 2021. Look out for further announcements. 

Medieval Manuscripts

Viewings of our manuscripts for scholarly research purposes currently take place in the Barker Research Library, Palace Green Library, Durham University.  

Many of our manuscripts have also been digitised as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated Project. When complete, all the manuscripts and early printed books that formed the original Priory collection will be available online. See what has currently been digitised via the Durham Priory Library Recreated website.

How to make an appointment

For all library and special collections enquiries, including manuscripts, please contact us by email at in the first instance, or by telephone (Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm) on 0191 386 2489. 

Further information on Palace Green Library for medieval manuscript viewings can be found on their website

Public displays

We regularly run public events where we display amazing items from our special collections. Check our What’s On page.