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Special Collections: Use Special Collections

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.

The general reading room in Special Collections holds reference material.  The majority of the collections are held for preservation reasons in secure storage. Therefore this material needs to be requested in advance. Click here for more information about requesting material.

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

Special Collections and Archives Service have standardised their opening hours as follows:

From 12 November - 20 December 2019:

Microform & Reference Reading Room: Monday & Tuesday, Thursday & Friday 11:00 – 16:30; Wednesday 11:00 – 20:15.

Rare Books Reading Room: Monday – Friday 11:00 – 13:00 and 14:00 – 16:30. 
Special Collections & Archives are closed 23 December 2019 and 2-10 January 2020. Apologies for any inconvenience.
This is to facilitate essential works in the reading rooms and to deliver a better service to all our patrons in the second semester. There will be no access to any items from any of the collections nor will be there be any access to the spaces in Special Collections & Archives.

Special Collections & Archives will reopen at 11:00 on 13 January 2020.