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. The library is used by UK and international Shakespeare scholars but welcomes anyone with research interests in the English Renaissance.

Collections

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

  • Renaissance Theatre Company archive (Kenneth Branagh’s touring company from 1987-1992)
  • Renaissance Films PLC archive
  • Regents Park Open Air Theatre archive (formerly New Shakespeare Company)
  • Russell Jackson Archive (textual advisor on various Shakespeare film productions)
  • Papers of Wendy Beavis (actress who worked with Geoffrey Kendal’s Shakespeareana Company touring India and Pakistan in the 1950s)
  • Actors’ Script Collection (annotated scripts of Samuel West, Jasper Britton, Nigel Hawthorne)
  • Unpublished Shakespeare Film Script collection
  • 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:

  • ProQuest Literature & Language
  • Early English Books Online
  • Shakespeare in Performance (Folger Shakespeare Library)
  • Drama Online
  • World Shakespeare Bibliography

There are numerous ways to discover the variety of our holdings online:

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 a bespoke 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.

Environment

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.

Exhibitions

The SIL has an active exhibition programme guided by programming and research interests at the Shakespeare Institute. 

The SIL Online

The Library runs a Twitter feed and blog highlighting collections, resources, events and exhibitions.

Shakespeare in the West Midlands

The West Midlands is particularly well resourced with collections devoted to Shakespeare. In Stratford-upon-Avon itself there are the collections of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust which include the Local Records Office and RSC Archive. Combined with the Birmingham Shakespeare Library in the city’s glorious new library, the West Midlands 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

Library staff and enquiries

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

For enquiries please contact: silib@bham.ac.uk 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.