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.

If you have a question, please contact us by email.

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

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.

If you have a question, please contact us by email.

We are open weekdays, Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm.

  • To request and consult items, use the main Library Catalogue or use the separate catalogue for Archives and Manuscripts.
  • This is an invigilated, silent area. Please show consideration for others while using the room.

Using the reading room

Additional regulations

  1. You must wear a face covering (unless exempt) when moving around the building and maintain 1m+ social distancing.
  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 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. You may only consult one rare book or archive folder at a time.
  3. 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.
  4. Only pencils may be used.
  5. You are responsible for all materials issued to you for consultation until you return those materials to a member of Special Collections staff.
  6. Handheld devices may be used to take digital images for non-commercial research or private study only.
  7. Eating and drinking, including bottled water, is not permitted.
  8. Please note that this area is under security camera surveillance.