Barber Fine Art Library


Restricted hours and service

Opening hours: 10:00-16:00 Monday to Friday

Our special arrangements for social distancing are outlined below. The library is only open to University of Birmingham staff and students. You must book your visit in advance, as per the instructions below.



Barber Fine Art Library
Barber Institute of Fine Arts  
University of Birmingham  
B15 2TT

The Barber Fine Art Library is located on the ground floor of the Barber Institute of Fine Arts. Find out about our opening hours.

Tel: 0121 414 7334 
Fax: 0121 414 5853


Hygiene measures

  • Enhanced cleaning schedules
  • 72 hours quarantining of collection materials and book supports/weights
  • Social distancing signage throughout the building
  • Hand sanitiser stations in addition to hand washing facilities

You will be required to wear your own face covering during your visit. If you have any specific questions, please ask these at the time of making your request for access.

Access and booking your visit

We will have significantly reduced capacity due to social distancing measures with 6 study spaces available. Access is only available for University of Birmingham staff and students, and is by appointment only.

  • Requests should be made to:
  • Appointments are subject to availability of spaces in the Reading Room
  • Your appointment will be for one person only. You must not bring anyone else with you
  • All researchers must read, and agree to, our Coronavirus Researcher Charter
  • Please let us know if you have any additional access requirements
  • Opening hours are 10:00 – 16:00 Monday to Friday
  • Priority will be given to time-limited research access requirements. If your needs are not urgent please consider waiting until a later date to make a request
  • On the day of your appointment, please wait at the entrance to the Barber Fine Art Library. A member of staff will meet you at your designated arrival time. If you cannot make your agreed time, please let us know as soon as possible
  • Shelf browsing will be permitted but you will be expected to maintain social distancing and wear masks when moving about the building

Non-University of Birmingham researchers and external library members

At present we are unable to provide access to any researchers who are not current students or staff at the University of Birmingham. Our phased reopening plans are heavily focused on public health guidance and significantly reduced capacity in our Reading Room. As such, our initial offer – for the Autumn Term 2020 - provides controlled access for our own staff and students.

We will regularly review our service offer and we will endeavour to provide access to non-UoB researchers as soon as we feel it is safe to do so.


The toilet will be available as usual, with additional hygiene measures in place.  However, access to the Barber Fine Art Institute is strictly limited so please be aware that additional restrictions will be in place throughout the building.


About the library

The library is a specialist research level collection of books, exhibition catalogues and sale catalogues on Western art covering most of the major European schools of painting from the early Renaissance to twenty-first  century, the history of collecting, and also some Byzantine art.

Barber Fine Art Library are for reference use only. 


The Barber Institute and its interiors have grade II listed status and has undergone very few alterations except for the provision of up to date IT facilities. The tables and chairs were designed by Gordon Russell. The Main Reading Room functions as a dedicated quiet study space. 

Photocopying and printing  

Not currently available.


Not currently available.


Not currently available.


The collection includes: 

  • Books and catalogues raisonnées, guide books and pamphlets 
  • Exhibition catalogues, dating back to the eighteenth century 
  • Catalogues of permanent collections from galleries around the world 
  • A major collection of early rare Sales catalogues from major auction houses dating back to the late seventeenth century 
  • Current subscriptions to Sothebys and Christies sales catalogues 
  • Over 350 books published before 1850 on architecture, art topography, biography of artists and the history of collecting
  • Over 150 periodicals titles, of which approx.100 are current 
  • A small collection of videos 
  • Networked and stand alone electronic resources 
  • A substantial proportion of items are in the original language of publication, mainly in English, Dutch, French, German, Italian and Spanish. 

Please note: Pressure on space dictates that a large proportion of material is housed in closed access stacks. Material from the stacks has to be collected by library staff. It may not always be possible to obtain these items immediately. Visitors coming some distance are advised to contact the library in advance to check availability of material.

Disability support

General facilities and access

All libraries and resource centres offer the following services: 

  • Book fetching 
  • Help with catalogue 
  • Stock transfer 
  • Text Relay

See our main accessibility page for more information about the support library 

Please note: These services are available in the Barber Fine Art Library from 09.00-17.00, Monday to Friday, but there is no book fetching from 12.00-14.00

Specific facilities and access in this library

  • Accessible toilets 
  • Parking for people with disabilities 
  • Quiet / Silent Study area 
  • Wheelchair Access (limited)

Specialist equipment

This site has the following equipment available:

  • Bar Magnifier 
  • Coloured overlays 
  • Magnifying glass 
  • Magnifying sheet

Additional information

Filming requests

If you wish to enquire about filming or photography in the Fine Art Library, please contact Jean Scott, Site Libraries Manager (


Professional Services