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Visiting Special Collections

Welcome!  We hope you will find your visit useful and enjoyable.  This guide answers frequently asked questions to help you get the most from your day.  For help with directions and travel, see Visiting Bradford: guide for Special Collections visitors.

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Before your visit | When you arrive | What to expect | Handle with careLaptops, phones etc | Personal digital photography | Reprographic services | Wi-Fi | Accessibility | Eating and drinking | Toilets | Feedback

Before your visit

Make a firm appointment.  As a small service, we can’t guarantee access without this.

Send us details of the materials you’d like 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 wi-fi, register with one of our networks for quick access on the day.

We can accommodate your personal belongings, but have limited space, so please keep them to a minimum.

Ensure your laptops and other devices are fully charged.

Send us a contact number if you’d like us to contact you if there are problems on the day  e.g. staff sickness or transport delays.  Let us know about any delays you encounter if you can.

No longer need the appointment?  Let us know so we can offer the slot to other users.

When you arrive 

The Special Collections Reading Room is located in 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 telephone us on 01274 235256 or 236027.  Special Collections staff will collect you.

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 usually 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.
  • Handle with care!  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.

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.

Personal digital photography

We encourage visitors to use their own devices to take images for personal research use.  This is at the discretion of the staff member on duty and subject to:

  • Care for originals. For instance, don’t lean on originals or stand your device on them.  Self-service copying using “contact” methods of any kind is not allowed.
  • UK copyright law.
  • Not disturbing other users and staff.  If you want to bring a tripod, extra lights etc, let us know in advance so we can arrange a time slot which won’t be disruptive.

Reprographic services

We offer photocopying, scanning and photographic services.  Please note that you will need to complete declaration forms and pay for your copying, and that it may not be possible to do your copying on the day you visit.

Wi-fi networks

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

  • Roamnet: University of Bradford staff and students only
  • Eduroam: UoB staff and students, plus visitors whose home institution offers this service.
  • The Cloud: Everyone.

For more information, see the University's wi-fi networks webpage.


Please let us know if you have any concerns about our standard services.  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.

Eating and drinking

Student Central (adjoining the Library): Costa Coffee and Union shop.  Sandwiches, shawarma, soup, jacket potatoes, cakes, and snacks.

Richmond Building: Restaurant offering hot food, salad bar, sandwiches etc.  Coffee shop and Union shop in the Atrium. 

Shops, pubs and take-aways on Great Horton Road.

Brought a packed lunch?  Try Student Central, or benches around campus.


Special Collections staff will point out the Floor 02 toilets when we collect you.  There are Ladies and Gents toilets on Floors 01, 1 and 2 and Accessible toilets on Floors 0 and 1.


We are always interested to know your thoughts about your encounter with Special Collections.

Special Collections Feedback