Using 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.

Senate House Library's Special Collections reading room with a view into the Sterling Library.

Using 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 Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. To request and consult items, please use the main Library Catalogue (and book a study space) or use the separate catalogue for Archives and Manuscripts.

If you have a question, please contact us by 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, advance booking only (book a study slot online).

Using the reading room

Additional regulations during coronavirus for using the Special Collections Reading Room

  1. You must wear a mask at your desk and in the library at all times (unless exempt).
  2. Hand sanitiser is only available outside the door of the reading room.
  3. Please make sure your hands are completely dry before touching any materials as it can damage the items.
  4. You may only look at one rare book or archive folder at a time.
  5. You must abide by the usual Regulations for using the Special Collections Reading Room that are listed below.

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.
  6. Eating and drinking, including bottled water, is not permitted.
  7. Please note that this area is under security camera surveillance.