Access, Hours and Contacts

Information about accessing our collections, including our opening hours, how to find us, how to join the Library, and how to request items

Archives and Special Collections is currently closed until further notice. We are continuing to monitor and reply to email enquiries, but replies may take longer than usual. We regret that we will be unable to conduct searches or offer a copying service during this period. For further information please visit our Covid-19 Library Advice webpage. Our National Lottery Heritage Funded projects Unlocking Our Sound Heritage and So that they may have life are continuing to operate, although we are unable to provide onsite volunteering opportunities during the closure period.

About Special Collections

Special Collections manages books, manuscripts and archives which are rare or unique. This material requires special storage conditions and cannot be kept on open shelves or made available for loan.

Material in Special Collections is available for students, staff and external researchers to access in the Special Collections Reading Room, in the basement of the David Wilson Library.

Only registered members of the Library may consult items within Special Collections. Reference only membership is available to members of the public free of charge.

Library staff are available to assist readers to access the materials they require and to deal with general enquiries. Staff are not available to carry out research on behalf of readers.

For information about who can use the Library see our Visitors and Joining the Library pages. A Valid Proof of ID is required to join. Visitors are advised to complete the Online Form before their first visit.

Using Special Collections

Items from Special Collections are available for consultation by appointment between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday. Readers are required to abide by the following rules governing the reading room:

  • All coats, bags and umbrellas should be left outside of the reading room (lockers available).
  • Pencils and laptops only may be used to take notes.
  • Pens and highlighters are not permitted in the reading room.
  • Food and drink may not be brought into the reading room.
  • Digital photography is permitted, subject to the completion of a signed copyright declaration form.

Requesting rare books

Printed books from the Special Collections store are are requested by placing a Hold on the Library Catalogue. Holds are made available at the times noted on this information page.

You will need your Library Card and PIN or IT account username and password to place a Hold. Reference card holders can request items by contacting Special Collections or speaking to a member of Library staff.

Requesting archives

Items from our archive collections are not available via the Library Catalogue and can be requested by contacting Special Collections. Items from catalogued collections stored in the David Wilson Library will be ready for consultation within two working days. Some catalogued archive material is held in the Library's External Store, and longer retrieval times may apply. Retrieval times for uncatalogued collections vary. Please contact Special Collections for further information.

Researchers consulting material concerning living individuals should familiarise themselves with our Data Protection Guidance and Statement.

Opening Hours

Kirby & West Special Collections Reading Room

  • Monday, Tuesday & Thursday - 1pm to 5pm
  • Wednesday & Friday - 9.30am to 5pm
  • Saturday & Sunday - Closed

Appointments to consult material before 1pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays are available on request.

Copying requests

A copying service is available. Copies are supplied for non-commercial research and private study only. Other restrictions may apply to the copying of copyright material. On occasion, it may not be possible to supply copies if copying risks damaging an item.

Standard ChargesUoL member (max 10 copies per request)Remote orders
Self-service digital photography No charge No charge N/A
Photocopying Black and White 50p A4 & A3 9p A4; 15p A3


Standard charges apply. £5 minimum charge + postage.

Photocopying Colour 60p A4 & A3 40p A4 & A3
Scanning (up to A3 £1 (jpeg, 200dpi) 50p (jpeg, 200dpi)

How to find us

The Special Collections Reading Room is located in the Basement of the David Wilson Library, located on the main University campus. Visit the University's Main Campus map page for directions and to locate the David Wilson Library. A map of car parking locations (pdf) is also available to download.


Special Collections

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Contact Us

T: +44 (0)116 252 2056

E: specialcollections

Opening times

Archives and Special Collections is currently closed until further notice. For further information about onsite services please visit see our Covid-19 Library Advice.