Using the Special Collections Reading Rooms

There are three Special Collections reading rooms available for use at The University of Manchester Library.

In person and digital appointments

Researchers can book appointments to access material in the Special Collections Reading Rooms at the John Rylands Research Institute and Library and the Main Library. You can also book a digital appointment to view a small amount of Special Collections via a Zoom call. Appointments are available:

  • For collections held at the Rylands: Monday to Friday between 10am and 5pm
  • For collections held at the Main Library: Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 4pm

Limited spaces are available, and you must give a minimum of one week’s notice when booking an appointment.


Accessing the Reading Rooms

It is essential to contact us at least one week 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 subject to the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018.

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

  • Please fill in our membership form.
  • On your first visit please bring with you proof of address and photographic ID. If you are a member of the University your University ID Card is sufficient proof of identity.

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.

Privacy Notice

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