Access our collections

Consulting our collections

Our Archives and Special Collections team provides access to books, manuscripts and archives which are rare or unique. We welcome visits from students, staff and external researchers who are interested in viewing our collections. A free reference card is available to visitors who are not already members of the Library. To ensure that the items you would like to view are ready for your visit, we ask that you contact us in advance to arrange an appointment. 

We provide access to collections in the Kirby and West Special Collections Suite, located in the Basement of the David Wilson Library. When you visit, we will ask you to help us to preserve our collections by only bringing into the reading room pencils, notepads, or personal devices. Lockers are available for safe storage of bags, and food and drink can be consumed in designated areas outside of our reading room. 

We encourage you to take your own digital photographs of items during your visit. Where material is subject to copyright, we ask that you take copies for your own noncommercial research use or private study. If you would like to share your photographs more widely, such as via social media, please speak to a member of staff. We will be able to advise you whether copyright permission is required. 

Viewing rare books

All of our rare books can be located using Library Search. Once you have found the item you would like to consult, please place a request from the catalogue record or contact us. Once your item is available for you to view, you will receive an email inviting you to make an appointment to visit. 

Accessing archives

We will always try to make items from our archive collections available as soon as possible. For catalogued collections stored in the David Wilson Library, we can usually make material ready for consultation within two working days. Some of our collections are stored offsite, and some material is uncatalogued. These collections will usually take longer to retrieve. We will be able to advise you of retrieval times when you contact us. 

Many of our archive collections contain unpublished information about living people. Before visiting us to access this material, please familiarise yourself with our Data Protection Guidance and Statement.

Please contact us to request access to our archives.

Opening hours

Material from Archives and Special Collections can be consulted during our staffed operating hours: 

  • Monday - 1.00pm - 5.00pm
  • Tuesday - 1.00pm - 5.00pm
  • Wednesday - 9.30am - 5.00pm
  • Thursday - 1.00pm - 5.00pm
  • Friday - 9.30am to 5.00pm
  • Saturday - closed
  • Sunday - closed

If you need to visit us on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday morning please contact us to arrange an appointment.