The Somerset Local Studies Library holds published works relating to all aspects of Somerset life, including books, pamphlets, maps, journal articles and illustrations.

In this section find out how you can access this incredible collection and information about it.

Accessing the Library

In Person

The main collections of the Somerset Studies Library are on open access shelves in the searchroom at the Somerset Heritage Centre.  The items which are held in the strongrooms may be ordered in advance or on the day.  There are usually no access restrictions to items in the library.  Please see our Planning a Visit page for more information.

Remote Enquiries

We may be able to answer an enquiry by telephone, letter or email, although longer enquiries should be directed to our Research Service.

Through Your Somerset Public Library

In certain cases a library item can be transferred temporarily to a Somerset public library for a researcher to use.  Transfer is dependent on the item’s age and condition and that it remains in the branch library while being consulted.

Somerset Local Studies Catalogue

Explore books, pamphlets, maps, journal articles and illustrations

Explore Local Studies

Local Studies Resources


The Somerset Local Studies Library holds published works relating to all aspects of Somerset life.  The searchroom library shelves are self-service and books may be freely used by researchers.  As well as the books on the open searchroom shelves, there is a substantial collection of older books held in the strongroom. The collection is for reference only and books may not be borrowed.


Almost all of Somerset’s newspapers from 1737 are held on microfilm at the Somerset Heritage Centre.  Most of those published before 1974 are available on a self-service basis in the searchroom and can be viewed and printed out.  Newspapers published after 1974 are held in the strongrooms and can be requested.  Newspaper reader-printers are very popular, so booking in advance is strongly advised.  Please ask a member of staff about making an appointment.  See our Newspapers leaflet for more information.

Parish Information Packs

These packs include a copy of the 1st edition Ordnance Survey map of the area, transcriptions from Domesday Book, Hearth Tax and Protestation Returns, and population figures.  Entries from trade directories relating to a single place have been copied and collected together in date order, making a survey of a town or village much easier.  There is no parish pack for Taunton, Yeovil, Bridgwater or Weston-super-Mare, but there are place-specific trade directories for each of these towns.

Quick Reference

The open searchroom shelves include a Quick Reference section with the following resources:

  • Clerical Directories – These list the education and positions held by Anglican clergy and are available for dates ranging from 1847. Directories from 1951 onwards are held in the strongroom.
  • County and Town Trade Directories – These list and briefly describe the cities, towns, villages and hamlets of the county. County directories are available from 1822 to 1939.
  • How-to Guides – Researching family and local history will always bring to light problems that cannot be easily solved.  These guides deal with specific issues, including how to read different types of record, how to research a particular type of ancestor, or how to use specific resources.


The following periodicals are available on open access in the searchroom:

  • Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society (SANHS)
  • Somerset Record Society publications
  • Somerset and Dorset Notes and Queries
  • Somerset Industrial Archaeological Society (SIAS)
  • Bristol Industrial Archaeology Society (BIAS)

A large number of periodicals can also be ordered from the strongrooms, including community magazines, local authority publications, directories, leisure and tourism publications, school prospectuses and academic serials.  Please ask staff for a full list.

Somersettings Collection

The Local Studies Library also holds Somersettings, the county’s collection of literature and poetry inspired by Somerset.

Library of the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society (SANHS)

Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society was formed in 1849.  The South West Heritage Trust manages the SANHS library collection of books and illustrations. To discover more about the contents of this remarkable library search the Online Catalogue.

For more information about SANHS and the library collection, please see our leaflet or visit their website.