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Special Collections' & Archives' Subject Support: Academic Staff: Request a Class

How Special Collections can help you with your research, teaching, learning & assignments.

Teaching Spaces

Our diverse collections of rare printed books and unique manuscripts can be used to support teaching within the University and facilitate the acquisition of new skills or develop existing ones.

Discover the 132 open collections for you to use in classes. Special Collections & Archives are working on connecting our collections to the SDGs - view our preliminary findings on 12 collections.

Special Collections & Archives are open to discussing options for delivering teaching with collections - please complete the online form to book your class into our spaces. 

Special Collections & Archives has three different spaces available which can be used by teaching groups who need to work with the collections. The maximum capacity of each space is so because of the size of the room or availability of machines:

  • Rare Books Reading Room: 24 people. This room is a shared space with other users who are using items from other collections. If your class group is larger than this we recommend splitting the class size or providing advance notice whereby the room will not be available to other users. For the latter the capacity of the room is 30 people. Items to be examined will be used in this room and can include items from the Reference Reading Room. Please note this room also houses a book scanner.  
  • Microform Room: 12 people. There are 6 machines available comprising Microform Readers, Reader/Printers and Reader/Scanners
  • Reference Reading Room: 15 people. This room is a shared space with other users.

The following options are possible:

  • Classes are open to all staff and students at all levels (1st year - PhD students) and for working with all types of material. 
  • In-person classes where the total number of people (students, lecturers and Special Collections & Archives staff member) does not exceed the room capacity as above. We prefer a week's notice period to alert other users as the space may not be simultaneously available to individual users, e.g. Microform Room. However we will do our best to work with your schedule and course needs.
  • Virtual classes where the Special Collections & Archives' staff member is in the Rare Books Reading Room and we show particular items through Teams. All items would be agreed in advance and a limited number of items is recommended.
  • The Introduction to Special Collections & Archives is accessible via the Library Learning Resources page on Canvas. The module is suitable for both undergraduate and postgraduate students. The module provides an overview on what Special Collections & Archives is, how to use Special Collections & Archives and how different examples of primary sources can be used in research. The following examples of primary sources are present within the module: legal documents, letters, manuscripts, maps, newspapers and prints. Like all the modules on the Library’s Canvas Course, this is a stand-alone, self-directed course.
  • Items from Special Collections can be included on Digitised Course Readings requests. 
  • With notice we can scan a limited amount of archival items and manuscript items from Special Collections & Archives (subject to copyright, size & condition of item) for inclusion on your specific modules on Canvas. Please contact the relevant person below with archival reference code or Special Collections' call number and details of item. We require at least 2 weeks' notice to facilitate each module request. Requests received with a shorter lead-in time will not be processed for that shorter due date and will still be subject to at least a two-week delivery span. 


Preparing for A Visit

  • The guidelines that apply to using the Special Collections & Archives' Reading Room also apply to our teaching spaces. Please distribute these guidelines to your students before class.
  • Before entering the reading rooms staff and students will be asked to place their coats and bags in our storage space. 
  • Pencils only, notebooks or laptops are permitted in the readings rooms. We have plenty of pencils!

Academic Year 2022-2023 & Skills Gained

If you have any feedback, comments or questions please contact

 Statistics for Special Collections & Archives classes in 2022/2023