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What we do

The Mitchell Library has been collecting since 1874, when Stephen Mitchell left money to Glasgow Corporation to create the Mitchell Library, which first opened in 1877.

Two foundation collections were set up, the Glasgow Collection and the Scottish Poetry Collection. These growing collections are still at the heart of our collecting today, enriched by many other fascinating collections and notable items. 

Special Collections collects, manages, and offers access to Mitchell Library collections including family history, Glasgow local history and heritage, newspapers, maps, photographs, rare books, manuscripts, ephemera, and some artworks. We hold Mitchell Library collections on a wide range of subjects which are unique and distinctive, and need to be treated with special care under supervision, such as rare and older books, and manuscripts.   

Special Collections covers almost 500 collections, and thousands of individual items. Some of the collections are major in size and significance like Scottish Poetry Collection and the Robert Burns Collection, others are small, or local in scope, like the Broadsides Collection, or the Glasgow Theatre Collection. We actively seek out new additions to the collections, through purchase, gifts and bequests, growing the collections for our communities and visitors, now and for the future.

The Special Collections team is proud of the collections that we care for, and continue to grow on behalf of the City of Glasgow. We welcome citizens, visitors and researchers from all backgrounds to use our enquiry service and to share our rich collections in person and online.