Getting Started

Welcome to the Collections Guide from Newcastle University’s Special Collections & Archives. Here you can discover hundreds of our archive and rare book collections and the different ways you can engage with them.

Before we begin exploring the Collections Guide, first, what is a collection?

What is a collection?

Archive collections comprise groups of items, usually acquired from a single creator. These items could range in material type, e.g. letters, photographs, maps and more. An archive collection can vary in size from just a few items to a very large collection. Each collection includes a top-level description containing details such as creator, related subjects, places, the type of collection and what’s contained within it. You can request access for items within a collection. Some collections may also contain links to other places, such as CollectionsCaptured for digitised collections or Library Search for book collections.

An example of an archival collection is the Baker Brown (Thomas) Archive.

Book collections also feature within the Collections Guide and instead, these are simply a set of books, usually by the same author or publisher, under a collective title. Follow the links to Library Search from to discover the titles contained within a book collection.

An example of a book collection is the Bloodaxe Books Collection.

Getting started with the Collections Guide

The Collections Guide homepage is the best place to start, where you’ll find:

  • Explore collection highlights – our curated collection highlights showcase some of our most popular and well known collections, which may be interesting if you’re just exploring.
  • Browse everything – the All Collections option provides a useful A-Z visual way to see what we have on offer. However, you can also browse by People & Organisations and Subjects.

Wherever you go within our Collections Guide, you can easily search or browse for something else by using text box and buttons at the top of the page. When searching and browsing you can also make use of the additional filtering options.

Searching across and within collections

The search box at the top of any page within the Collections Guide allows you to search across all collections, items, creators, subjects and more. Search suggestions will appear as you type into here to take you directly to what you’re looking for.

Alternatively, after submitting your search you can perform further filters using the search facets on the left-hand side. Here you can, for example:

  • Filter your search to show only items within a specific collection
  • Only show results related to a specific subject area
  • Limit the search to specific creators

Browsing our collections

If you’re not entirely sure what you’re looking for, are looking to be inspired, or just want to get a sense of what collections we hold, use the ‘browse everything by’ button at the top of any page within the Collections Guide.

The All Collections option provides a useful A-Z visual way to see what we have on offer. However, you can also browse by People & Organisations and Subjects. More filtering options are available when browsing by the latter options.

Within a collection, you can easily browse the contents of the collection down to the series and individual item level using the tree structure or hierarchy usually displayed on the right-hand side.

Requesting items from our collections

Wherever you see the “Request this Item” button on the Collections Guide you can add items to your “My Items” and then submit a request to consult or engage with them in a number of ways:

  1. Visit us in person – consult items from our archives in our Reading Room
  2. Virtual reading room service – see items via Zoom, at a mutually convenient time
  3. Digitisation service – request digital images of items for remote viewing

Follow the link above for more information on each type of request or visit the Requesting Items page.

Depending on what you’re after, some collections may already be digitised and available on CollectionsCaptured. Click the button labelled “see images from this collection”.

To request a title from within a book collection, follow the links to Library Search and use the request link displayed alongside the book's information.

Exporting data from the Collections Guide

When browsing an archive or contents of an archive there are various export options available, including the ability to download data in Dublin Core or EAD formats. These options are usually displayed on the right-hand side of the page.

What is CollectionsCaptured?

CollectionsCaptured is the publicly-accessible interface for discovering digitised items within our collections and archives, also known as a “digital asset management system”.

Through our digitisation programme, we are committed to making these collections available to the widest possible audience for exploration and re-use in research, teaching, and engagement.

From within CollectionsCaptured you can find out more about individual images, including licencing and copyright information and how to request high resolution copies for your own use.

Further help and information

If you wish to find out more about our Collections Guide, the collections themselves and the other services we offer, including consulting the originals, visit Special Collections & Archives or email