Accessing Special Collections
Special Collections is open to all academic and non-academic researchers interested in using our collections. Members of the public are most welcome. Staff in Special Collections can help you use the collections and are always happy to answer your questions by telephone, email, post and in person.
Opening hours & appointments
Special Collections is normally open for individual researcher visits Monday - Thursday 09.15 - 17.00. Please make an appointment to visit the Archive. We advise researchers to book their visits at least one week in advance to ensure that an appointment is available. Let us know what time you intend to arrive at Special Collections and what items you wish to see first. You can choose items by taking a look at the catalogues.
When you visit
If you do not hold a University of Sussex Library card, you need to bring some form of identification with you together with proof of your current address. This needs to be presented at the Library's Reception desk at the front entrance of the building. Staff will give you a form to complete and then issue you with a Reference Pass. Please keep this Reference Pass with you at all times as it will allow you to access the Library throughout the day.
On arrival at Special Collections, you will be asked to leave all your belongings in a locker for which you will be given a key. You may only bring pencils, notebooks and laptops into the Reading Rooms.
Visitors with disabilities
The main entrance to the University Library may be unsuitable for users with mobility problems. There is, however, an alternative entrance that is located at the north end of the building – follow the signs to IDS. This allows entry, via a phone link, to the ground floor. More information. Once inside the Library there is a lift to the 2nd floor of the Library where Special Collections is located. Staff at the Library's Reception Desk will direct you to the lift. There are toilets which are suitable for wheelchair access.
If you have difficulty deciphering the text of any reading material, please tell a member of staff. We have a range of specialist equipment acquired through funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and will be pleased to help you.
Please advise us when you make your booking of any special needs that you may have.
Requesting material to consult
We suggest that you submit a list of items before your visit so that we can have them ready and waiting for you to use on arrival. You can do this by email, telephone or by post. A material request form is available to download here. Simply use the catalogues to find reference details for the materials you want to look at, complete the form and return it to us an an email attachment, or print it out and post it to us.
Material can be requested whilst you are here, but you may need to wait whilst items are collected from our stores. Do not hesitate to contact us should you have any queries about requesting material - we are always happy to help and advise.
Using the collections for teaching
Tutors and teachers are welcome to contact staff to discuss how the collections may be incorporated in their teaching. This can include a combination of a group visit to introduce students to using collections and subsequent visits by students as individual researchers. Please contact staff for further information.
Arranging group visits
We are happy to host group visits to the collections. Special Collections has its own seminar room and can offer a variety of seminars and talks for schools, student groups and other local and national organisations. Special Collections staff are available to lead these sessions and will consult with the group organiser to tailor the visit accordingly. Appointments for group visits should be made at least one month in advance. Group visits usually last from 1.5 to 2 hours. Selected items from the Collections can be made available to handle and read, and short exercises (interpreting the documents, discussing use of evidence and so on) are usually included if relevant.
Special Collections staff will be happy to discuss potential projects with researchers to ascertain if a visit would be beneficial.
Any reproduction or subsequent use of material may be subject to copyright restrictions and charges made for any material which is reproduced from the collections. As a general guide a charge of £60 (+VAT & any administrative costs) is made for each copyright cleared image reproduced. Copyright charges may be made on top of this amount.