Medieval libraries were, of course, not public libraries, for there was no reading public, nor were they lending libraries such as came into existence at the universities.
- The Renaissance of the 12th Century, Charles Homer Haskins
One of the many great historical buildings of York is the archbishop's palace, located at the far end of Deanery Park and currently housing the York Minster Library. Being a part of the York University Library system - which also includes the King's Manor Library and the JBM - I was occasionally directed hither in the course of my research. The general collection - one of four different collections - is found on the first floor of the palace, situated in a lofty room with bookshelves reaching for the ceiling, containing books on a large number of topics any Medievalist might find interesting. Having endured the monstrous architecture of the JBM and the creaking floors of King's Manor Library it was a relief to walk in a real, archetypal English library that had the ambience I was expecting.
These days there is an exhibition at the Library called "Unlocked!", aiming to put some of the Library's many treasures on display. The selection ranges from matters of primarily local interest to manuscript illuminations and other historical curiosities, and I'm convinced any history enthusiast will find it worth his or her while. For a brief presentation of the exhibition I refer you to York Minster Library's facebook page where there is a short introductory video.