We are a thriving Independent Historic Library and Educational Charity, welcoming new members of all ages.
We are open as usual: Tuesdays to Fridays 10am-5pm and Saturdays 10am-4pm.
Contact us:
[email protected]
[email protected]
[email protected]


Search our library catalogue to find books, periodicals, newspapers, archives and manuscripts.

Search our library catalogue here

Our catalogue is hosted by the University of Exeter. To search through our collections, go to ‘advanced search’ and narrow the location to ‘Devon and Exeter Institute’.

Our library collections are also listed on Jisc Library Hub Discover, which is available to search here.

Our collection of manuscripts can also be found on the National Archives discovery database, which is browseable here.

Our prints and drawings are listed on a separate catalogue, which is available to search here.

Find out how to make an appointment to view collections here.

Search tips

If you know which book you are searching for, you can search the library catalogue by title or author. If you would like to browse the collections, you can choose ‘local classmark’ from the dropdown menu on the homepage of the catalogue, and then search by the classmark, followed by an asterisk, e.g. AB*.

If you would like help using the catalogue, please book onto one of our free ‘Get to know the DEI catalogue’ workshops. These will be listed under the ‘What’s On‘ section of the website.

The DEI uses the following classmarks:

South West collection (modern)

The South West collection uses a unique classification system, designed by Professor W. G. Hoskins.

AB          South West

AB 92     South West biography

AB1        Devon & Cornwall

AC          Cornwall

AC1        Isles of Scilly

AD          Devon

AD1        North Devon

AD2        South Devon

AD5        Dartmoor

AD6        Exmoor

AD/A-Z Devon towns (Followed by first three letters of place – e.g. EXE for Exeter)

AE           Dorset

AE1        Channel Isles

AS           Somerset


South West collection (historic)

S.W. Heritage                    South West heritage collection

S.W. Cupboard                  Particularly significant/rare books on the South West


Heritage collection

The Heritage collection uses a unique classification system, which has been in place at the DEI since the nineteenth century.

A             Theology

B             British History

C             General History

D             English Literature

E              Reference

F              Fiction

G             Voyages and Travel

I               Philosophy, Law, etc.

J              Theology, Science

K             Classics

L              Arts

M            Foreign Language Literature

N             Natural History

O             Biography

Q             Crichlow Bequest and other additions

R             Camden Society, Ray Society etc.

S              Topography

Bay 68        Particularly significant/rare books from the Heritage collection

Bay 69        Particularly significant/rare books from the Heritage collection


Historic newspapers

Newspapers can be searched by title.


Modern reference

Our modern reference collection is classified using the Dewey Decimal system.


Archives and Manuscripts collection

MSS       Archives and manuscripts collected by the DEI

These are listed on our library catalogue as well as The National Archives Discovery.

Additionally, we also hold the DEI Archive, containing records of the Institution dating back to its foundation in 1813. This is not currently listed on the library catalogue but please contact the Library if you would like to make an appointment to view the records.