The Special Collections Reading Room
We are open weekdays, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 11:00 to 17:00, and Wednesday 11:00 to 19:00.
- To request and consult items, use the main Library Catalogue or use the separate catalogue for Archives and Manuscripts.
- Please allow a minimum of 48 hours when placing your request and when choosing the date you would like to visit. This will allow enough time to process orders and ensure they are available when you visit.
- This is an invigilated, silent area. Please show consideration for others while using the room.
Using the reading room
- Library floor plans (showing the location of the Reading Room)
- Library opening hours (including Special Collections Reading Room)
- Library Regulations (including Special Collections)
- Reproductions and Licensing
Regulations for using the Special Collections Reading Room
- Users must put their bags and coats in a locker before viewing materials.
- You may only consult one rare book or archive folder at a time.
- Please read books on the rests provided, using chains to minimise the need to touch the volumes, and consult archival and manuscript material in line with Special Collections staff guidance.
- Only pencils may be used.
- You are responsible for all materials issued to you for consultation until you return those materials to a member of Special Collections staff.
- Handheld devices may be used to take digital images for non-commercial research or private study only.
- Eating and drinking, including bottled water, is not permitted.
- Please note that this area is under security camera surveillance.
Many Special Collections and rare and early printed books are listed on the Library Catalogue.
Named Special Collections can be browsed via a ‘mixed/local’ classmark search for a collection’s classmark, e.g. [S.L.] for the Sterling Library or [G.L.] for the Goldsmiths Library.
Books from a specific donor or former owner can be found via an author search.
Search the Archives and Manuscript Catalogue.
Reference number searches can be carried out under ‘Advanced Search’.
Many archive collections are fully listed to item or file level, or detailed box lists can be viewed as attachments to collection level descriptions.
Online Card Catalogue
As well as the online catalogue, a large number of printed items acquired by the Library before 1980 are listed on a digitised Card Catalogue only. This includes many early European editions and nineteenth-century works. The catalogue can be browsed online by author.
Handlists of collections
Printed catalogues and handlists of many collections are available in the Historic Collections Reading Room.