Library Services


Visiting Us

Anyone who has a need to consult the collections is welcome to do so; we are open to the public as well as academics and students.

A Limited Re-opening

We have now re-opened all three of our reading rooms, with reduced hours. Safety procedures including quarantining of materials, social distancing, wearing of face coverings and increased hand hygiene will be in place to provide safe access to the collections.

Reading Room at The National Archives

Our reading room at the National Archives is open Wednesday & Friday: 9.30am - 5pm and Tuesday & Thursday: 9.30am - 7pm. We require a minimum of two weeks notice. Please contact us at spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk for further information.

On-campus Reading Rooms

Main Building Reading Room

Our main building reading room is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays with reduced hours of 11am - 3pm. Due to social distancing measures, there will be a maximum of two readers per day. We aim to increase access as circumstances allow. Please contact us at spec.coll@ucl.ac.uk for further information. 

Institute of Education Reading Room

Our reading room at the Institute of Education is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11am - 3pm. Please contact us at ioe.arch-enquiries@ucl.ac.uk for further information.

Two people (visible from the chest down) stand at a table laden with rare books that have been carefully displayed using books rests and page weights.  The books reveal intricate medical and natural history illustrations.

The Reader Services and Enquiry Team for UCL Special Collections is based at the reading room at the South Junction of the Wilkins Building on the main UCL Gower Street campus.

There is a second reading room at The National Archives (TNA) in Kew, Richmond, where the majority of our collections are housed. The UCL Reader Services team manages appointments for both sites.

The IOE Archives team manages our third reading room, which is at the IOE Library in the IOE building at 20 Bedford Way, near the UCL campus.

Self-guided tour

View our online self-guided tour which covers how to search our collections, book an appointment, and find our reading rooms. 

Information for visitors to UCL Special Collections

  • UCL Special Collections is reference only. In order to use our collections, an appointment must be made with us first, at least two weeks prior to the date of your proposed visit. Please do not make any travel or accommodation arrangements until we have confirmed your appointment. We are not able to accommodate drop-in visits.
  • UCL Special Collections material is held at the following sites:
    • On the UCL campus in Bloomsbury,
    • at The National Archives (TNA)
    • and at the Institute of Education (IOE).
  • There is one enquiry and reader service for UCL material held at the Bloomsbury campus and TNA, and a separate service for the IOE. To arrange a visit, contact us by email, telephone or post to enquire about our collections and to make an appointment: contact us.
  • Please quote the collection name, reference number or shelf-mark of the item(s) you wish to see.
  • We will let you know the location at which you will be viewing the material and send you all the necessary information for your visit when confirming your appointment.
  • For guidelines on the use of the reading rooms and to know what to expect, please read our 'Guidelines on using a UCL Special Collections Reading Room'.
  • We aim to provide an accessible and inclusive environment for all our students, staff and visitors. For further information, please view our Support for Disabled Users page.
  • For information relating to photography and publication please read our guidance: photography and publication.
  • If for any reason you are unable to attend your appointment(s), please let us know so we can offer your appointment to someone else.