Shakespeare Institute Library

The Shakespeare Institute has been developed as a working collection for the Institute's members and also serves as the University's central resource for English renaissance literature as well as a collection used by UK and international Shakespeare scholars.


The Shakespeare Institute Library contains about 60,000 volumes (including 3,000 early printed and rare books), archives and manuscripts, and audio-visual collections. The library aims to collect every significant publication for the study of Shakespeare and Renaissance drama and the supporting collections cover literary, cultural, political, religious, and social history of the period. Significant research collections include:

  • Renaissance Theatre Company archive
  • Renaissance Films PLC archive
  • Unpublished Shakespeare Film Script collection
  • New Shakespeare Company archive
  • E.K. Chambers Papers
  • Newscuttings collection 1902- present
  • English Short Title Catalogue 1475-1640 on microfilm
  • Francis Longe Play Collection on microfilm

Virtual library

In addition to the physical holdings researchers have access to a range of the most powerful electronic databases for our subject. These include:

  • Literature Online
  • Early English Books Online
  • English Short Title Catalogue
  • Full-text Electronic Journals database
  • World Shakespeare Bibliography

The library is equipped with the latest networked computers in sufficient numbers to ensure no queues for accessing equipment.

Library staff

Library staff are experts in their field and the size of the Institute ensures readers receive an expert service. In addition to complete inductions and training on specialized resources, researchers can expect to be alerted to current and forthcoming publications that support their research. If relevant collections and resources not held by the Library are identified, the Shakespeare Institute will make every effort to purchase facsimile copies to facilitate research.


In 1995, the Shakespeare Institute Library was completed on the Institute's site at Mason Croft. The Johnson Library provides purpose-built accommodation on three floors for the Library's entire collections. Networked computers are available on every floor.

The main collections are not loanable so researchers are not faced with the frustration of not finding a resource or waiting for delays whilst items are recalled: all the collections are available unless actively being used by another researcher on the premises.


In addition to supporting the research of the University the Shakespeare Institute Library devised and maintains the British Library-funded service Touchstone, a freely available online resource for Shakespeare studies. The first collaborative Shakespeare service of its kind, Touchstone integrates identification of important research collections, updates of professional and amateur Shakespeare activity, and an enquiry service to support all levels of scholar and Shakespeare enthusiast.

Shakespeare in the West Midlands

The West Midlands , as befits the home of Shakespeare, is particularly well endowed with collections devoted to Shakespeare. In addition to the Shakespeare Institute Library, the

Shakespeare Centre Library in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Birmingham Shakespeare Library together provide unparalleled resources for the study of every aspect of Shakespeare's life and works.

Library opening hours

Monday - Friday: 09:00 - 20:00
Saturday: 09:00 - 17:00
Sunday: 13:00 - 17:00

Access after 17:00 and at weekends is by valid UID or Library card only.

Library staff and enquiries

Karin Brown: Shakespeare Institute Librarian.
Kate Welch: Senior Information Assistant
Anne Phillips: Information Assistant

For enquiries please contact: or tel: +44 (0)121 414 9525

Virtual tour

Use the interactive virtual tour below to move around the Shakespeare Institute today, starting in the library. Drag the image below to rotate your view and click on doorways to change rooms. Navigate through the library, gardens, music hall, seminar rooms and main hall. A full screen version is available on Google maps.