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The University of Southampton
Special Collections

Visiting Special Collections

The Special Collections Division is situated on Level 4 of the Hartley Library at the University's Highfield site. There are two main areas: the Special Collections Open Access area houses the more modern printed material (which includes the Parkes Library) while the Archives and Manuscripts and Rare Books reading room is where the manuscript and rare book material is consulted.


The Special Collections Division is available for anyone to use, regardless of whether you are attached to an academic institution. Access to the Archives and Manuscripts and Rare Books reading room, however, is by prior appointment to access the manuscript material.

Applications for access to the Archives and Manuscripts are made on an individual basis by each researcher.

External researchers

If you are not a member of the University of Southampton and have not previously used the manuscript collections, the initial appointment must be made in writing and sent through the ordinary post, giving your private, permanent residential address, and not from an institutional address, to:

The Archivist and Head of Special Collections
Hartley Library
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

It is not possible to make an initial appointment by telephone, fax or email.

Appointments for subsequent visits can be made with searchroom staff, by telephoning 02380 592721 or emailing

External researchers are asked to bring with them evidence of identification, which includes their permanent residential address, on their initial visit to the Archives and Manuscripts or on their first visit in a calendar year.

Please note that all visitors to the Library now are required to register at the Library Reception in the entrance hall on arrival and show photo id to obtain a visitor pass to access the Library.

Members of the University

Members of the University of Southampton can make an appointment, including the initial appointment, telephoning 02380 592721 or emailing

Members of the University should bring their university ID card with them on their first visit.

Reading Room Regulations

For curatorial reasons, special library regulations apply to the use of the collections. Regulations for the use of the reading room for archives and rare books can be found under Schedule 5 of the Library Regulations and Schedules.

Reprographics service

Users are welcome to order copies of material from the collections.  For curatorial reasons, all copying and photography is done by members of staff.  No private photography of documents or books is permitted.  See the reprographics service pages for further information. 

Opening Hours

Special Collections Open Access follows the Hartley Library's opening hours.

The Archives and Manuscripts and Rare Books reading room is open Monday-Friday 0930-1700.

For dates on which the reading room is closed see:

Contact Us

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about booking an appointment.

Guide for New Users

If this if your first time visiting Special Collections we provide some basic information to help guide you through what will happen during your visit.

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