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Plan your visit to Special Collections

Special Collections welcomes members of the University and external visitors.

Our limited staffing means access is by appointment only and we may close for lunch if cover is not available.

Access to collections will seldom be possible for visitors arriving without appointment. Please don't make any travel or other arrangements before you have arranged a firm appointment with us.

Contact Special Collections staff  to arrange your appointment.

Before your visit

Help us to make your visit go smoothly:

  • Send us details of the materials you wish to consult.  We can have them out ready for you, so you can begin your research at once.
  • Need to discuss your research with us? Bringing a family member or colleague? Interested in large objects such as maps? Let us know so we can book a suitable time slot for you.
  • If you wish to use wifi, register with one of our networks for quick access on the day. Details below.
  • We have limited space for personal belongings, so please keep them to a minimum.
  • Send us a contact number if you’d like us to let you know about problems on the day e.g. transport issues for staff.
  • Running late? No longer need the appointment? Let us know so we can offer the slot to other users.

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. Your use is at the discretion of the member of staff on duty, must not disturb other users or staff and must not damage collections.

Please ensure devices are fully charged as we regret we cannot offer plugged in access in our present premises.


Please let us know if you have any concerns.  We can offer various alternatives to meet your needs.

Note that the Reading Room is accessible by lifts and level floors. However the layout of Floor 02 pre-dates modern standards and can be difficult for very large or long wheelchairs. We can book a back-up room with level access if necessary.

When you arrive

The Special Collections Reading Room is Room 02.3 (Basement Floor) of the J.B. Priestley Library on city campus.

To enter the Library, you will need a card. We can make such cards available to non-University visitors, either by post (if you have pre-booked in time) or on the day.

The Reading Room can be tricky to find. If you are visiting us for the first time or have any other problems, please either ask for help at the Library Welcome Desk or .

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.

It is invigilated at all times by Special Collections staff. The member of staff on duty may look busy, but you are their top priority, so please ask if you need help.

If you are consulting archives, we will issue you with a file at a time. We don’t 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 our staffing levels and the kind and location of materials requested.

You may browse the book collections in the room and bring items to the table to read. Please leave them out for us to file rather than returning them to the shelves yourself.

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 it closed inside your luggage.
  • No bags on the table: the member of staff will show you where to store them. 
  • Pencils only. No pens, which can leak or mark the originals.
  • 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.  We don’t use "white gloves": they attract dirt and make fingers clumsy. Clean hands are better. Occasionally we ask you to wear nitrile gloves e.g. if handling unprotected photographs.

The member of staff on duty will point out any concerns they have with handling.

WiFi networks

The University of Bradford offers the following free networks available in the Reading Room.

  • Eduroam: University of Bradford staff and students, plus visitors whose home institution offers this service.
  • Eduroam Visitor: Replacement service to "The Cloud" for external users who do not have access to Eduroam.

Users who wish to use Eduroam Visitor will need to contact prior to their visit to set up access. Access can be granted for up to five days.

Personal digital photography

We encourage visitors to bring their own digital cameras or smartphones to capture images for their personal research. This is at the discretion of the Special Collections Librarian or delegated to the staff member on duty. It is subject to the following restrictions:

  • Care for originals. Photography is gentle on collections as no contact is made, but it is possible to do harm by leaning on items or breaking book spines. We offer book snakes, supports and weights to help you get the image you need without damaging precious originals. Do not rest or stand your device on collections items.
  • UK copyright law. Find out more via our .
  • Respect for other users and staff. Switch off any sound notifications on your device. If you want to bring a tripod, extra lights etc, let us know in advance so we can arrange a solo appointment for you.
  • Data protection. We are unable to allow personal photography of material restricted under the Data Protection Act.

There is currently no charge for personal digital photography.

Visitors are not permitted to photocopy or use any equipment which touches originals to reproduce Special Collections materials.

Services provided by Special Collections staff

Special Collections offers digitisation and photocopying services for enquirers who for practical or legal reasons cannot take advantage of personal digital photography.

Standard charges

ServiceCharge £Per
Photocopies up to A3 0.50 Sheet/Side
Digital copies up to A3, sent by email or file transfer 1.00 Image captured
Handling charge for remote requests 5.00 Flat rate
Postage of photocopies UK and Ireland 1.50 Flat rate
Postage of photocopies World 4.00 Flat rate

Please note

Remote enquirers should contact us to obtain a quotation for likely costs before completing their declaration.

Prices include VAT at the standard rate.

We reserve the right to impose extra charges based on staff time for exceptionally large or complex jobs.

All copying is at the discretion of Special Collections staff and is subject to:

  • UK copyright law, data protection law and any other relevant legislation.
  • Format, condition and size of original.
  • Staff availability to carry out the work.

Copies can be supplied only when payment and correctly completed declaration form have been received by Special Collections staff. Download forms below.

We endeavour to make copies as quickly as we can, but as a small and busy service we cannot guarantee meeting particular deadlines. We will keep you informed of significant delays.

Supply of images via this service does not include rights to reproduce or publish. See our for help.