The Library

The heart of the Devon and Exeter Institution is the Library, a heritage collection in its original setting.

The Library reveals the intellectual and artistic interests of our region from the beginning of the 19th century to the present day.  Our collections include around 35,000 volumes, including bound newspapers and periodicals, and many thousands of maps, prints, drawings, paintings, pamphlets and other ephemera.

Our earliest Members had a keen interest in science, natural history, travel and exploration, art, religion and history. Collections relating to the history and topography of the West Country date from the 16th century to the present day and include many unique items.

The Library’s collections form the basis of our dynamic programme of events, including temporary exhibitions.

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Using our collections
Our modern West Country collection is on open access and arranged by counties and towns. Members may borrow up to six books (and three DVDs) for a period of one month and items may be renewed if not required by another member. Journals and pamphlets may not be borrowed.

Members can request to see items from our heritage collection, including historic materials relating to the West Country, and we provide book conservation pillows and weights to support the items during use. We encourage Members to request items in advance by email to or by phone 01392 251017.

The copying of materials from our collections, including the use of personal copying equipment such as scanners, is not permitted except at the discretion of the Librarian. Members may photograph materials (no flash) in accordance with current UK copyright legislation and for personal non-commercial use only. The Librarian will consider requests to publish images of items in the collection.

Wifi is available throughout the Library and there are two computers for use by Members. We subscribe to a number of electronic databases, including Ancestry, History Today and Which magazine.