Collections of the University of Tartu Library amount to ca 3.9 million items. The collections contain about 41 670 manuscripts, 78 819 photos, 15 725 works of art, 48 incunabula, more than 2000 books from the 16th century, 241 Elseviers, 50 printed books in Cyrillic script from the 16th-18th centuries, 800 Russian books from the 18th century, more than 100 early Finnish, Latvian and other early printed books, and many other valuable publications. The library holds volumes of the world’s oldest scientific journal from 1665; the oldest original document dates back to 1239.
Library collections are located in the stacks and reading rooms. Access has been purchased to numerous electronic publications; many publications have been digitised at the library and can be accessed via e-library.
Publications shelved in reading rooms can simply be picked up and checked out. Materials held in the stacks have to be requested. When requesting materials, pay attention to loan periods, since different copies of one and the same title can have different loan periods. Newspapers and journals, archival copies of Estonian publications and materials published before 1945 cannot be borrowed.
Manuscripts and rare books and collections of works of art and photos are held in the stacks of the Manuscripts and Rare Books Department and can be used in the manuscripts and rare books reading room.
Sound and video recordings can be used at the Music Department.