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We are custodians of internationally recognised collections of manuscripts, early and rare printed books, archives, archaeological artefacts, museum objects and artworks from around the globe, as well as modern print and digital resources. Four of our collections are designated as being of international importance by Arts Council England. 

Our staff use their expertise and enthusiasm to ensure our collections are discoverable and accessible, through research services and collaborations; academic teaching; school engagement; community and outreach programmes; exhibitions and displays; national and international loans; and, increasingly, through digital engagement. 

These collections are used by university staff, academic and independent researchers from across the UK and the world, students in higher education from Durham and other universities, school pupils and teachers, local residents and tourists. 

We are continually developing our collections to support our teaching and engagement, address gaps and add breadth and depth to our areas of specialism. Our Collections Development Policy  sets out the boundaries of our collecting activity within our cultural collections and proposals for acquisition are reviewed by a panel.  If you have items or collections which may be of interest to us, please get in touch. E-mail Judy Burg, Head of Collections, or Craig Barclay, Head of Museums, Galleries & Exhibitions. 

We accept donations to our modern collections, with decisions based on managing space and cataloguing resources. For more information please see Library Gifts Policy.

We are also always pleased to receive donations to support our work - you can help us build our unique collections across museums and special collections, support placements and internships; contribute to our widening participation and community outreach programme; and enable other development and innovation.   

You can donate online at Library, Archives, Museums and Galleries Donations or please contact Jessica Smith to discuss your wishes.

A carving in pale green jade of a mountain scene with trees and two human figures travelling along the side of the mountain, one on horseback and the other on foot carrying baskets over his shoulder. The carving stands on a carved wooden stand.