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Archives and Special Collections: Other Collections and Sources: Designated Collections

Our collections

The Designation Scheme was first launched in 1997 under the auspices of what eventually became the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) and originally covered only museum collections. It was expanded to include libraries and archives in 2005 with responsibility being transferred to the Arts Council in 2011 on the demise of the MLA. 

As of 2020, there are 152 Designated collections held in organisations across the whole of England. 4 of them are in Durham University's Libraries and Collections, with two of those in Archives and Special Collections.

These outstanding collections recognised by the Designation Scheme demonstrate the immense richness and variety of the collections held in England's museums, libraries and archives. They are world class collections which are a lasting source of inspiration and enjoyment for generations of users and Designation exists to promote and increase access to them for all. 

Bishop John Cosin's Library, opened in 1669, is one of ASC's two collections awarded designated status in 2005.

The Sudan Archive, established in Durham in 1957, is one of two ASC collections awarded designated status in 2005.

Access to original sources

The collections mentioned above are located at Palace Green Library.  Our current opening hours are as follows, but see also below.

  • Monday to Friday: 10am to 4:30pm
  • Saturday: closed
  • Sunday: closed

For further information on visiting to use the collections, please use our enquiry form.

See separate Libraries and Site Information guide for further information on Palace Green Library.

Appointments are strongly recommended for all visits, please use the enquiry form to book.  Please give three working days notice when possible and include a full list of document references or shelfmarks so that we can best enable your research access.