We have approximately 20,000 books in the Book Collection, spanning pre-railway history up to the present day.

From the 28 August the library catalogue will look different. For further information on this, please read our blog post here.

Many of the books are on open shelves in Search Engine, our library and archive centre, and freely browsable (and arranged by subject area).

The remainder is in our store, but staff can retrieve these for you at regular intervals – the Recent additions

Rare books

Currently all books published before 1875 are classed as "rare" and need to be consulted in our archive research rooms. You will know if a book is classed as "rare" as it will have the letter 'R' at the end of its shelf-mark on the Library Catalogue.

The oldest book in the collection is John Curr's The coal viewer, and engine builder's practical companion. (Sheffield : Printed for the author by John Northall, and sold by I. & J. Taylor, London, 1797.) It's not only the oldest book we have, but also the first book to print information and details on an iron railway.

Background: Suitcase with railway luggage labels