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Royal College of Surgeons of England Library

Contact details

Website: E-mail: Tel: 020 7869 6555/6

Photo of the RCS England Library

  Images copyright: Royal College of Surgeons of England.

About the library

The Library and Surgical Information Services Department holds a nationally important collection of historical and contemporary material to support current and historical research connected to the history and practice of surgery and medicine. For more information about the history of the College library see:

The collections contain a wide variety of surgical, dental and medically related literature, dating from the late fifteenth century onward. There is also a substantial collection of journals dating back to the 17th Century, most of which are not yet catalogued online. The contemporary collections focus on surgery, dentistry, anatomy, physiology and pathology, while the subjects in the historical collections reflect the evolution of medicine and surgery. Thanks to support from The Wellcome Trust, the Library has been engaged in retrospectively cataloguing its collections. Most of the 19th century monographs have now been catalogued and work was begun in 2010 to catalogue the pre-1800 collections. Holdings include one of the largest collections of medical tracts and pamphlets in the UK, comprising 30,640 items ranging over all aspects of medicine and dentistry, as well as surgery. Natural history and other scientific subjects are represented, reflecting the work of nineteenth century College museum curators responsible for the famous Hunterian Museum. The majority of the pamphlets date from the 19th century, but there are works from as far back as 1570. British, American and continental European items are joined by exotica from Calcutta, Shanghai and Rio de Janeiro. Many of the pamphlets are scarce, or have remained uncatalogued in British libraries. The collection is rich in individual case reports, university dissertations and addresses to medical societies. For further information see:

The local library catalogue is available online. The museum and archives catalogue is also available online. If you are doing historical research, you are welcome to contact the library for help, in order to fully explore the collections.

British Library Interlibrary Loan Codes

  • Royal college of Surgeons Library: F2

Accessing materials

Can I see live document availability on Copac? No

Can I obtain items via Inter Library Loan? College Members and Affiliates are eligible to borrow from current collections; books are not loaned to other individuals. Books may be loaned to other institutions for exhibitions at the discretion of the library’s Director; please contact us for more details. An article supply service is available, which any academic library can use. Please see our web pages for more detail.

Can I visit the library to view materials? Researchers are welcome to use the library. Please consult our library catalogue first, and contact the library at least 2 working days in advance of your visit to ensure the material you want to access is available and to book an appointment.

How do I find primary source material held at this institution? The archives which have been catalogued can be accessed online via Surgicat.


The Royal College of Surgeons of England data on Copac

Example record from the Royal College of Surgeons of England Library:

Title: Panacea; or The universal medicine, being a discovery of the wonderfull vertues of tobacco taken in a pipe, with its operation and use both in physick and chyrurgery. [By Everard, Giles.]
  Published: London : Printed for Simon Miller 1659

You can browse all the titles on Copac starting with the above title.