Exeter Cathedral Library & Archives


Exeter cathedral, one


Aims and Objectives

In 2007 Exeter Cathedral was informed by the results of a British Library Preservation Office survey and an audit inspection by a representative of The National Archives that their Library & Archives were at serious risk due to inadequate storage facilities and if action was not taken immediately, the collections would suffer irreparable damage. The overarching aim, therefore, was to ensure the collections were safeguarded and enhanced for the future and to avoid the loss of any Library or Archive material. A further objective was to increase visitor numbers and improve the experience for users of the Library & Archive facility.



2007: Library & Archives warned by The National Archives that parts of the collections were at risk.

September 2010: design team appointed.

Spring 2011: Permissions granted for building works to commence in March 2011.

March 2011: Work began on refurbishing the West Wing.

July 2011-May 2012: Collections transferred to their new accommodation in phases.

July 2012: New reading room made publicly available.

Summer 2013: All phases of the new Library & Archives, and the new Education Centre due for completion (although in reality all areas of the Library & Archives are already fully functional).


Services offered

Integrated service

         The Library & Archives are now operating as a single department from a single site, although retaining the distinct functions of each in terms of collections.

         Service operates with professionally qualified staff five days a week (increased from just three afternoons in the Archives and five afternoons a week in the Library previously).

         Archivist on duty four days a week, librarian two days a week and assistant librarian 1.5 days a week.


Collection Care

         All archives, and the majority of the Library collections (excluding some post-1801 published material) are stored in a secure, climate-controlled repository built to BS:5454 standards (now PD:5454 compliant).

         An annual budget enables Exeter cathedral Library and Archives to carry out a planned programme of book and document conservation in partnership with Devon Heritage Services.



         All public areas are wheelchair accessible.

         A reading room for use by Library readers and Archive researchers (the first time such a dedicated space has been available to users).

         Power sockets at all desks.

         A high-quality interpretation hall in the entrance foyer to showcase book and document treasures, alongside some artefacts and text panels.

         A remote enquiry service (primarily email, but also telephone and occasionally letters) is also in operation. Look-ups in common published sources (e.g. are generally free of charge, but more complicated enquiries involving the consultation of archive material or library material housed in the repository may incur a charge).


Learning activities

         Curated displays of original material for undergraduate and postgraduate taught seminars are provided as well as talks and workshops for adult learners.



Collecting and professional advice

         The Library collects printed and published material relating to the Cathedral.

         The Archives receives transfers of and collects material related to the Dean and Chapter and the Cathedral.

         The librarians and archivist will provide advice on matters relating to their collections and related material where appropriate.


Area Challenges


The role of planning


Business/operational model

Key partners / stakeholders

A project board was established, comprising internal and external partners from the Dean & Chapter, Devon Heritage Services, University of Exeter and The National Archives

The Dean and Chapter approved the improvement scheme, by supporting the Library & Archives being beneficiaries of the Third Millennium Campaign. Library & Archives staff have also been instrumental in realising the vision.



Institutional structure for delivering culture locally


Financing and funding arrangement


Success factors and outcomes


Measurement and Monitoring

Upon official completion of the project in Summer 2013 success is expected in terms of increased visits to the Library & Archives, with positive feedback from users; more users of the Education Department with positive feedback; increase in income generated, both directly and soft contributions to the Cathedral; increase in the profile of Exeter Cathedral as a visitor destination and a centre of research excellence. These will be the monitoring mechanisms used.


Contact Details for Further Information

Ellie Jones (Archivist) and Ann Barwood (Canon Librarian), Exeter Cathedral

01392 421423, [email protected]