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Using Libraries

Special collections

Many libraries have 'special collections' departments which hold materials which are, for example, rare, valuable or fragile. These departments often operate in a similar manner to archives. If you wish to consult this type of material it is necessary to contact the library concerned in advance to check the access policy for special collections. There may be particular procedures, for example you may need to make an appointment and request your material 24 hours in advance. This applies even if it is a public library which would normally place no restrictions on access.

For further help on locating and accessing special collections in libraries:

  • Bloomfield, B. C. (ed) Directory of Rare Book and Special Collections in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland 2nd edition (London: Library Association,1997).
  • Gallico, A. (ed) Directory of Special Collections in Western Europe (London: Bowker Saur, 1993)
  • Special collections at the Senate House Library
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