The Library holds the extensive historic printed collections of The Chapter of York, as well as a modern reference and lending library.

The library holds more than 120,000 books. Collection strengths include

  • local history
  • early York printing
  • Civil War tracts
  • theology through the ages
  • church history and architecture

Modern books include theology, church history and the history of the Minster and city.

You can read more about the library's history here: 1414: John Neuton and the Re-foundation of York Minster Library. See also: Records and Manuscripts (Archives)

Location and opening hours

York Minster Library is located in the Old Palace, based in Dean's Park on the north side of York Minster.

Our regular opening hours are Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm (closed on Bank Holidays).

Members of the public are welcome to use library material for reference in our Reading Room. You will need to sign in and provide basic contact information at reception on arrival.

You can photocopy items subject to certain restrictions, and photography of material is only permissable on purchase of a day permit. See: Imaging (new 2015 guidelines).

Search the Catalogue

All the items in the library can be found on the University of York online catalogue (YorSearch). The Minster Library collection can also be viewed through Copac, a website that contains the holdings of the UK’s national libraries (including the British Library), many University libraries, and specialist research libraries.

Early books printed in England can be found on the English Short Title Catalogue.

Special Collections and appointments

Any item location marked as 'Special Collections' on the online catalogue is viewable by appointment only. Many of these items are unique and irreplaceable, so to help maintain the security and preservation of the collections we ask you to observe some basic rules.

Appointments: please contact with details of your request. Appointments will normally run daily between 9.30am and just before closing (5pm). There will be times where staff are unable to supervise and cannot make appointments.

Registration: you will be required to register annually as a Special Collections reader should you wish to consult this material. There is no charge for this reference only service, but you will need to provide ID (photo and address) and fill in a form which details our regulations. Registration information will be stored in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

Borrow Printed Books (Membership)

Fee-paying Library users can borrow up to 6 books for 4 weeks for an annual fee of £30. 

To register please come to the Old Palace Reception with two forms of ID showing your name, address and signature (e.g. passport, driving licence, utility bill). Please note, we are only able to accept payment by cash when the payer is present at the Old Palace. Otherwise we ask that payment is made by BACS.

University of York students and staff receive free Library membership. The amount of items you can borrow will vary as to your status (staff, associate staff, student, etc.). If you are a student from another UK university you can apply for SCONUL access through your host institution.

Borrowers can now return Minster Library items at other University of York libraries: please check the opening times for the JB Morrell and King's Manor sites.