The special collections has over 2000 items that are from the 15th century to present day. There are 7 staff and assistants who work with the special collections. The collection is always growing due to acquisitions and gifts from donors. Their main goals and activities are the following:
- Cataloging the collection
- Preserving the collection
- Commissioning conservation
- Digitizing of items
- Teaching faculty and students about the collection
Currently, they are cataloging Chap books. These are printed by Chapmen and were meant for people who were less literate. Chapmen would buy books whole sale and sell them. The subjects of these books widely range. These books are unique to the Kings College area and were printed in cheap paper. Originally, they were sold unbound.
The archival collections also has a large amount of medical texts. One of the medical texts we were able to see was a St. Thomas Hospital folklore text from 1491. The information in this text book contained woodcut mythical creatures that were hand painted. The color preservation was remarkable.
One of the most interesting books we saw was a Thomas Payne book that was printed in 1776. What made this book so interesting was that when it was printed, there were many gaps in the text. This was because the content of the book was very controversial at the time. The gaps were then filled in by hand.
The archives also do exhibitions three times a year. Their current exhibition is a Shakespeare one to commemorate his 400th consortium. Many of the objects on display are of 16th and 17th century material. They focused on content related to Shakespeare, rather than his actual work. There are nine cases and each case is a specific subject that has to do with Shakespeare. Parts of the exhibition are objects that have been loaned by other libraries and museums.