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Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

It is helpful and advisable to contact us in advance of any visit, either by telephone or by e-mailing us at uml.special-collections@manchester.ac.uk. We can then retrieve the books and manuscripts you want in preparation for your visit. This is particularly important on your first visit.

Requests for access to modern (post-1914) archives must be made well in advance of your visit, so that an archivist can check the material and decide whether it can be made available under the Data Protection Act 1998.


When you arrive at the Deansgate building, the staff on the ground-floor reception desk will welcome you to the Library. Please deposit your bags, umbrellas and outer coats in the lockers in the Basement. To release the key, insert a one-pound coin - this is returned when you reopen the locker. Don't forget to keep your proof of identity and letter of reference with you. You should remove your laptop computer from its carry-case. Clear plastic bags are available to put your personal belongings in. Then make your way, via the lift or stairs, to Reader Reception on Level 4 of the new Entrance Wing. The books and manuscripts you require can be ordered here.

There are two reading rooms within the John Rylands Library, the Historic Reading Room and the Elsevier Reading Room, where anyone looking at special material is asked to sit. Staff will advise you which reading room you will be working in. You are welcome to use a laptop in either reading room.

Books, manuscripts and archives will be issued to you at the Reader Reception Desk. We will provide you with book-rests, weights and cotton gloves as appropriate. We will explain how to use them if you are unsure. We can also provide more specialist equipment including a microscope, fibre-optic light sheet and UV lamp. Staff are always on hand to help - please don't be afraid to ask! We want your visit to be as enjoyable and productive as possible.

There are a few simple rules which must be observed in the interests of conservation and security: