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The University of Southampton
Special Collections

Guidelines for new visitors

If this if your first time visiting the University’s Special Collections – or maybe any archive service – the following should help guide you through what will happen during your visit.

Entrance to the Archives and Manuscripts and Rare Books reading room
Entrance to the Archives and Manuscripts and Rare Books reading room

The Archives and Manuscripts and Rare Books reading room is situated on Level 4 of the Hartley Library which is on the University’s Highfield Campus.

Access is by prior appointment.

This is where you access the manuscript and rare book material housed in our strongrooms.

On arrival

Reading room reception
Reading room reception

Please use the telephone to gain access to the reading room

You will be asked to sign in: this requirement is part of our fire regulations so please also sign out if you need to leave the area.

If it is your first visit this calendar year, the receptionist will ask you to complete a reader’s declaration by which you agree to abide by our regulations.

Our regulations are similar to many archive services and include that mobile phones must be switched off; all work must be done in pencil (rather than ink); laptops can be used but must be plugged in through safety checked adaptors supplied by Archives staff and eating and drinking, including bottled water and sweets, are not permitted.

Please leave all bags and coats in a locker
Please leave all bags and coats in a locker

You will be asked to show your identification: the requirement is different depending on whether or not you are a member of the University.

You are welcome to bring in your laptop and any essential research papers but we ask that all bags, coats and other belongings are left in the lockers provided.

Ordering material

Green slips used for ordering archive documents and rare books
Green slips used for ordering archive documents and rare books

We run a "mediated service" which means you are not able to browse the shelves yourself as you would do in an open access library.

You are welcome to pre-order material in advance of your visit; please email archives@soton.ac.uk.

Alternatively, you may browse the catalogues and order material on arrival: please complete a green request slip for each item you wish to see.

We do not fetch new material between 12 noon and 1300.

Our papers catalogues: many of these are also available digitally
Our papers catalogues: many of these are also available digitally

There is no set limit to the amount of material you can order at any one time but if you pre-order a large amount we will often initially retrieve a smaller selection.

We normally issue one item at a time. Please retain the original order of any loose material within the file and return the file to the counter if you need to leave the room.

Help and advice

The archivist on duty
The archivist on duty

There is always an archivist on duty: it is our job to help you get the most out of your visit so if you have any questions, please ask!

We also keep a small reference library of supporting printed material.

Facilities and comfort breaks

Hartley Library cafe
Hartley Library cafe

Men’s, ladies' and accessible toilets are all located on Level 4

There is a café within the Hartley Library on Level 2 (past the entrance barriers); additional refreshments are available across University Road.

We hope you have an enjoyable and productive visit to the University of Southampton Special Collections.

Contact Us

Please contact us if you have questions about our collections.

Visit Us

Find out how to book an appointment to view our collections.

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