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Plan your visit to Special Collections

Special Collections is open to all University of Bradford staff and students and external researchers.

Access is by appointment only, please do not just turn up as we have limited staffing and will not be able to accommodate.

Special Collections can currently provide appointments Monday to Thursday depending on staff availability. The service will be closed for an hour at lunchtime.

Email to book an appointment.

Before your visit

Send details of what you would like to look at so we can have them ready; if you’re not sure of specific collections just ask and we can discuss.

If you wish to use Wi-Fi, tell us before arrival so that we can register you on our network for the duration of your visit.

Running late or need to cancel? Please let us know as soon as possible via email or telephone 01274 235256.

Laptops and other devices

You are welcome to bring your own devices into the Reading Room to help with note-taking and other aspects of your research. Use is at the discretion of the member of staff on duty, and must not disturb other users or damage collections.


Please let us know if you have any concerns. The Reading Room is on level 01 of the Library and is accessible by lifts and level floors. There is a height adjustable desk in the Reading Room. Accessible toilets are available on Floor 0.

Getting here

Campus maps and details about getting to the University are available online. Visitor parking is available on a first come, first served basis. Find out more information on our car parking page.

Special Collections is located in the J.B. Priestley Library.

When you arrive

The Special Collections Reading Room is on Floor 01 of the J.B. Priestley Library. Please ask for the Archivist at the library reception desk or telephone 01274 235256 on arrival and the Archivist will meet you and take you to the Reading Room.

What to expect

The Special Collections Reading Room is a quiet research space. It is solely for the consultation of materials from the Special Collections at Bradford.

On arrival you will be requested to fill in a researcher form to provide contact information and details about your area of study. You may also be asked to complete an access to closed records form if the material you wish to use is restricted by Data Protection legislation.

The Reading Room is invigilated at all times by Special Collections staff, please do ask if you need help.

Staff may issue you a file or a box at a time. We do not currently require researchers to complete forms requesting items, just tell us the reference numbers of the archives you need. We aim to fetch on demand, though this depends on staffing levels and the kind and location of materials requested.

You can access the online catalogues for certain archival and book collections via the PC terminal in the Reading Room.

Toilets are available on all floors of the Library. Accessible toilets are available on Floor 0.

Visitors to Special Collections can make use of the food outlet in Student Central – attached to the Library and the Morrisons Daily store.

Handle with care

To keep our unique collections safe for everyone to enjoy, we have some simple rules:

  • No food or drink in the Reading Room. If you have some with you, please keep closed inside your luggage or locker.
  • All bags and coats must be stored in lockers.
  • Pencils only. No pens, which can leak or mark the archives and books. Pencils are provided on the tables.
  • Keep items fully on the table and don’t lean on them to write or type.
  • Be gentle as you open volumes and turn pages. If you are having difficulties, please ask staff for assistance. We have book supports, weights, and other kit to help you use items safely.
  • Gloves only need to be used to handle unprotected photographs, negatives and objects. Using gloves to handle archive documents makes fingers clumsy and leads to damage. Please wash your hands before using material and do not apply any creams on hands as these will damage documents.

Personal digital photography

We encourage visitors to bring their own digital cameras or smartphones to capture images for their personal research. There is no charge for personal digital photography. Images can be taken subject to the following restrictions:

  • Please do not lean on items or open books too far. We can provide weights and supports to help you get the image you need without damaging documents. Do not rest or stand your device on documents or books.
  • UK copyright law – please ask a member of staff for advice
  • Do not use a flash as the light can damage documents
  • Data protection – we are unable to allow personal photography of material restricted under the Data Protection Act

Copies of documents by Special Collections staff

Special Collections can provide copies of documents by scan or photocopy for those not able to take images themselves. Our current charges can be found on our Reprographic services page.