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Using the Special Collections Reading Room

Information to help you use the Special Collections Reading Room. 

The Reading Room is an invigilated space for the use of Archives and Manuscripts and printed Special Collections. It also houses the Palaeography and Manuscript Studies and Book Studies Collections.

Special Collections manuscript ript

Using the Special Collections Reading Room

Information to help you use the Special Collections Reading Room. 

The Reading Room is an invigilated space for the use of Archives and Manuscripts and printed Special Collections. It also houses the Palaeography and Manuscript Studies and Book Studies Collections.

The Special Collections Reading Room is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11am-2.45pm only via advance booking.

Order special collections & archives and book your study space slot in the Special Collections reading room by sending an email.

To comply with social distancing, study spaces are limited. Please ensure you have the email confirming your order and study space booking before travelling to Senate House and have it ready to show staff on arrival.

If you already have a pre-booked slot, please check in at the Library Membership Desk on the 4th floor of Senate House.

For general study space (outside of the Special Collections Reading Room) Senate House Library is open Monday and Tuesday, 11am-3pm, advance booking only (book study slots online).

A Click, Collect & Return service is also in operation to facilitate study off site. You can pick-up and drop-off your Click & Collect orders made online Monday to Thursday, 11am-3pm.

Find out which services are currently available within the physical Library.

Using the Special Collections Reading Room during coronavirus

  1. Hand sanitiser is only available outside the door of the reading room.
  2. Please make sure your hands are completely dry before touching any materials as it can damage the items.
  3. To limit handling of materials, your pre-booked items will be waiting for you on your allotted desk space.
  4. Please keep any items you have finished viewing to one-side, and staff will collect them after closing.
  5. Keep in mind that you may only view one archive folder or one rare book at a time.
  6. Users should not return locker keys or other items directly to staff - please use the quarantine box provided instead.
  7. For any enquiries, ask the member of staff at the reading room reception desk.
  8. Please ensure that you have your confirmation email or a valid ID.

Regulations for using the Special Collections Reading Room

  1. Users must put their bags and coats in a locker before viewing materials.
  2. 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.
  3. Only pencils may be used.
  4. You are responsible for all materials issued to you for consultation until you return those materials to a member of Special Collections staff.
  5. Handheld devices may be used to take digital images for non-commercial research or private study only, at the discretion of Special Collections staff and in accordance with notices displayed in the Reading Room.
  6. Eating and drinking, including bottled water, is not permitted.
  7. Please note that this area is under security camera surveillance.