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Using the Special Collections Reading Rooms

Using the Elsevier Reading Room at the John Rylands Library

There are two Special Collections Reading Rooms. One is located at The Rylands Library, in the city centre. The other is at the Main Library on the Oxford Road campus. 

It is essential to contact us in advance of any visit. We can then retrieve the materials you want before you arrive. 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.

We provide a 'closed-access' reader service. This means that you have to order up material and we bring it to you in the Reading Rooms. It isn’t possible to browse the shelves.

How to register

Library membership is open to everyone over the age of 16. Please contact us if you are under 16 – we may still be able to help.

In order to register as a Special Collections reader, on your first visit you will need to bring with you proof of address and photographic ID. You will be asked to complete a simple registration form.

Staff and students of The University of Manchester are automatically registered – please bring your University ID card with you. 

Reading Room regulations

There are some simple rules which must be observed in the Special Collections Reading Rooms, in the interests of conservation and security:

  • Bags, umbrellas and outer coats are not allowed in the Reading Rooms; clear plastic bags are available to put your personal belongings in.
  • Do not remove Special Collections items from the Reading Rooms.
  • Special items should never be left unattended.
  • Return all items to the Issue Desk.
  • Use pencils when making notes; pens are not allowed because of the risk of marking Special Collections items.
  • Do not rest writing paper on Special Collections items.
  • Do not mark Special Collections items.
  • If pages in a book are uncut or stuck together, please ask for assistance.
  • Keep files or bundles of papers and other loose items exactly in the order in which they are issued to you.
  • Report any damage to Special Collections items.
  • Mobile phones must be switched off.
  • Eating or drinking (including bottled water) are not permitted in the Reading Rooms.
  • Keep valuables with you at all times.

Contact us

For any enquiries relating to our Special Collections, please contact us

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