Using Special Collections at the Main Library

In person and digital appointments

Some Special Collections are located in the Main Library on the Oxford Road campus. These include archives of The University of Manchester, Christian Brethren archives, many scientific books and post-1800 medical books, medical drawings and paintings.

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. Please note that there are also separate arrangements for consulting maps.

Anyone over the age of 18 can book appointments to access material in the Special Collections Reading Rooms. You can also book a digital appointment to view a small amount of Special Collections via a Zoom call.

Appointments are available from Monday to Friday between 10am and 5pm.

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.

Please register as a reader and submit your requests via our booking form. If you have any trouble with this form please email the reading room team at:

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

Find us

The Special Collections Reading Room at the Main Library, on the Oxford Road campus, is located on the Fourth Floor. Staff will greet you at reception and show you to the Reading Room.

It is accessible to wheelchair users.

The Main Library is building no. 55 on the University's Campus Map.

For directions to the University, see the Maps and travel page.

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: