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Senate House Library

Virtual Reading Room

The Library offers a Virtual Reading Room service to enable researchers to make online appointments to consult our Special Collections and Archives remotely, no matter where they are based.

Appointments take place via video call on Microsoft Teams and are facilitated by a staff member of our Special Collections Reading Room team, who will share your requested materials through a high-resolution camera.

The service is free and open to all library members as well as external researchers.

What you need to know before booking your appointment

  • The service is available Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, 11:00-13:00 and 14:00-17:00
  • Appointments should be booked at least 7 days in advance
  • Appointments are limited to 1 hour
  • You can consult up to 3 items per session (for example, 3 rare books or 3 files from an archive)

Please note that some materials may be unsuitable for production due to their fragility, format or copyright and data protection restrictions. If material you request is unsuitable for consultation via the Virtual Reading Room service, or if it has already been digitised and is available online, you will be contacted by a member of Special Collections staff after you have submitted your request form.

How to book an appointment

Before booking an appointment, you will need to know the details of the special collections item(s) you would like to view including their title and classmark or archival reference. Printed books can be searched through the library catalogue. Archives and manuscripts can be searched with our archives catalogue.

Once you know which items you would like to view, complete and submit a virtual reading room request form to book a slot.

If you have any questions in advance of booking your Virtual Reading Room appointment, please email the Special Collections Reading Room team.

Please be aware that Virtual Reading Room appointments are not consultations with subject experts. If you wish to speak to a subject expert at the Library, you can contact our specialist Librarians and Archivists.


We cannot supply screenshots or video recordings of Virtual Reading Room sessions.

Any screenshots or video recordings you make of library materials during your session will be subject to copyright and should not be used for any purpose other than personal non-commercial research or private study. You should not supply your screenshots or recordings to any other person. To ensure your screenshots or recordings comply with copyright fair dealing it is advisable to limit the amount you copy to around 5% of a library item.