Using Special Collections at the John Rylands Research Institute and Library

Reader Services

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 is not possible to browse the shelves.

Anyone over the age of 18 can book appointments to access material in the Special Collections Reading Room at the JRRIL by using our booking request form. If you have any trouble with this form, please email the reading room team at:

If you are unsure of which material you would like to consult or if you have an enquiry about a particular topic or subject area, please contact the curatorial team through "Specialist Enquiries".

You can also use the booking request form to book an hour-long digital appointment to view a small amount of Special Collections via a Zoom call.

  • In-person appointments are available from Monday to Saturday between 10am and 5pm (extended opening hours on Thursdays, 10am to 7pm)
  • Digital appointments are available from Monday to Friday at 11am, 2pm and 3pm.

Limited spaces are available, and you must book a place in advance before coming to the reading room. We ask for three day's notice to view most items, except for those requiring curatorial approval or delivery from off-site which may take longer. A member of staff will check the status of the material and confirm the date and location of your appointment.

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 subject to the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.

  • Please note that checking of uncatalogued collections by curators may take up to 30 working days
  • The maximum number of uncatalogued material which can be ordered for consultation for 1 day in the reading room is capped at 15 files or 30 items.

On the day

When you arrive at the Library the staff on the ground-floor Reception Desk will welcome you and direct you to our Reading Room.

You may take personal belongings and items you require for your research (eg. notepads, pencils, laptops and cameras) into the reading room but any bags or coats must be deposited in a locker. Our staff will assist you with this.

Special Collections items will be issued to you at the Issue Desk. We will provide you with book-rests, weights and nitrile 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.

Find us

The John Rylands Research Institute and Library is located on Deansgate in the centre of Manchester. The main entrance to the building is just off Deansgate, in the modern extension to the Library. From Deansgate, proceed along the side of the Historic Building to the main entrance. 

Contact us

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

Privacy Notice

We will collect and store your personal data in line with the Special Collections Privacy Notice: