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Special Collections: Handling Special Collections Items

Special Collections is home to manuscripts, older printed books and unique & distinct collections.

Use Special Collections' Material

All material is for consultation only and cannot be removed from Special Collections or borrowed from the Library.

Handling Material

When handling material please remember: 

  • Hands must be clean
  • Use book snakes to keep book pages open
  • Use weights to keep maps or larger items lying flat
  • Use book rests/cushions to support bindings
  • Do not put any undue pressure on bindings
  • Do not lean on the original item
  • Never touch the surface of a print/drawing/photograph/map
  • Ask for assistance if using rolled items, or folded items with attached seals
  • Do not use flash on the camera

Food, drink and ink are not allowed in any of the reading rooms.

Please contact Special Collections staff if any assistance is needed.

Videos: Handling Special Collections' Material

Presentation: Using Special Collections for Research

Accessing Special Collections Beyond UCC Library

If you want to visit other third level institutions there are various access schemes open to UCC staff and students.

In all cases please email the relevant Special Collections in advance in order to request the material. The staff in each institution will inform you of the relevant procedures which may be different to UCC Library's.

For more information about locating the relevant special collections' material to your study use the latest edition of the Directory of Rare Books and Special Collections in the UK and Ireland.

Opening Hours

30 December 2020- 5 March 2021: As per Irish Government direction from midnight 30 December 2020 all counties are placed on Level 5 under the Plan for Living with COVID-19. The advice is: Stay at home with certain exceptions. Please note this time frame may be extended. 

Update: 28 January 2021: From Monday 1 February we are offering the following as alternate means of access to Special Collections & Archives:

  • Scan & Deliver for Special Collections' material including items in the Reference Reading Room, Microform and items that show Special Collections by Request / Special Collections by Appointment on the library catalogue.
  • Reprographic requests for manuscripts & archival material via specialcollectionsarchives@ucc.ie

Every effort will be made to fulfil scan & deliver / reprographic types of requests, but this may not always be possible due to availability, copyright restrictions, size and condition of materials.

Previous appointment services in Special Collections and Archives are unavailable during Level 5.

If you have any queries relating to our collections please email specialcollectionsarchives@ucc.ie. This email address is monitored regularly.