The East Midlands Collection is the only open-access collection in Manuscripts and Special Collections. It contains books, pamphlets, periodicals and other materials on the historic counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland.
The East Midlands Collection was formally established in 1972 with its own librarian and from 1973 shared a Reading Room with the Department of Manuscripts. The Library had by then been acquiring regional literature for more than 40 years, and the Collection today has grown to the level of over 8000 books and 9000 pamphlets with over 900 periodical titles.
The majority of the collection is available on open access shelves in the Reading Room and most books and pamphlets can be borrowed by registered members of the University.
As the county libraries of the region have strong local studies collections based on many years of acquisitions, the University Library does not strive for complete coverage in any single county but it maintains an unequalled collection of printed sources (mostly secondary) for the East Midland counties as a region.
Although the Collection is commonly thought of as dealing with local history, many subjects are represented, including the natural sciences, architecture and buildings, archaeology, literature, economic activity and social issues. There are inevitably overlaps with other parts of the Library's general holdings. The Collection aims to support relevant subjects in the University's research and teaching programmes, and supports and complements the very rich local materials in the our manuscript collections. In development of the Collection, the Library does not seek to compete on subjects where local public library holdings have particular strengths.
The acquisitions policy does not generally extend to local magazines, ephemera, or works by local authors, unless they are literary works set in the region. Three Nottingham authors, William and Mary Howitt and Henry Kirke White, are however unusually well represented, and the Library continues to acquire their work.