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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

Open to readers Monday – Friday 10am – 4.30pm. Last entrance is at 4pm.

These books are in the Sharp Library and Chapter Library, located in the Monks’ Dormitory. Please sign in at the Open Treasure Exhibition desk and present your Diocesan Reader card or Durham University card to access the Library.

Don’t have a reader card? Just ask a member of staff who will direct you to the Library where you can register. You will need some form of ID. There are more details in Free Library Membership.

The Cathedral’s special collections

You will need to make an appointment to view our special collections. These include the Refectory early printed books, music, and antiquary collections.

Appointments are available from Tuesday – Thursday from 10am – 1pm and 2pm – 4.30pm

Appointments are held in the Barker Reading Room. This is at the far end of the Monks’ Dormitory in the Open Treasure exhibition.

Medieval Manuscript collection

Viewings by appointment are available Monday - Friday, 9am - 4.45pm.

The Cathedral’s manuscripts are currently being digitised as part of the Durham Priory Library Recreated project. When complete, all of the volumes will be available to view for free online. You can see those that have been digitised on the Durham Priory Library website.

How to make an appointment

Please contact the Library on 0191 386 2489 or email

Public displays

Our Treasures of Durham Cathedral Library events display rare pieces from the library collection for the public. Take a look at What’s On to discover more.