The library at the MERL is the most important in the country for the study of the history of British agriculture, the countryside and rural society.

Our wide-ranging collections cover:

  • farming through the ages
  • agricultural technology
  • the history of food and diet
  • perceptions of the countryside
  • the social history of the countryside
  • garden and landscape history
  • the politics of land use
  • conservation issues
  • local history
  • estate management
  • rural crafts and industries.

Rare and significant collections

There are uniquely accessible, extensive runs of historically significant journals from the nineteenth century onwards. We have a large number of rare books and specialist collections including herd books, a Milling and Baking Collection, a Dairy Collection and the Robert Dawson Romany History Collection. We also hold the libraries of the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), the Tools and Trades History Society and the Landscape Institute.

Journals and articles

A selective list of journal and book articles relating to agrarian history, as published as the Annual List of Publications on Agrarian History between 2001 and 2017 in the Agricultural History Review, is available.

Visiting us

The library is open for all to browse but you will need to enroll in our reading room if you wish to study our books. We are open every weekday, except for bank holidays and University closure days.