In addition to printed books and manuscripts of the past six centuries, in many languages and on every subject, the library includes most of the autograph writings of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, and Henry Cavendish, the scientist, as well as important groups of political and family correspondence. The 6th Duke of Devonshire in particular was a keen collector of books, and even purchased entire libraries to add to his own.

In 2011 it was proposed to undertake a full survey of the library collection. The purpose of this is to provide a complete picture of the books that are in the collection, and to assess their physical condition.

As the team of staff and volunteers work systematically through the collection, each book is scored according to its overall condition, how stable it is, and whether it requires any conservation. This information will allow us to set priorities in the future for conservation work.

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