Frequently Asked Questions
What are Special Collections? Can anyone use them?
What are your opening hours?
Where is Special Collections located?
Can I turn up at any time to view Special Collections?
What will I need to bring with me on my first visit to Special Collections?
Can I borrow items from Special Collections to use at home?
Do you have photocopying facilities and is there a limit to what I can copy?
Can I use a digital camera?
Can I use internet and email facilities at Special Collections?
Can I use a laptop?
Where can I park my car?
Do you have disabled facilities?
Do you have a refreshment room or refreshment facilities?
Are there any fees to pay?
Can someone do research for me?
Can you recommend anywhere to stay in Exeter?
Can I use quotations or visual material in my book/thesis/paper?
Can I borrow material for an exhibition?
Can I use the collections for teaching?
Can I browse in the stacks?
Special Collections section cares for the University’s archives, manuscripts and book collections which are too old, rare or fragile to be kept on the open shelves. We also manage the Fine Art and Bill Douglas Collections. All of our collections require special management, study facilities, storage and handling to ensure they remain accessible today and in the future. Anyone can use the collections for research, whatever your background.
Our reading room is open from Monday to Friday 10.00 a.m - 5 p.m. all year round, except on public holidays and during University closure over the Christmas period.
It is essential to book in advance for the staff to check that the items requested are available.
Special Collections is located in the Research Commons, Old Library, Streatham Campus. The Special Collections reading room is on the ground floor.
Because of restricted space and for security reasons, the Special Collections reading room is open during the following hours only:
10.00 a.m. – 5 p.m. Mondays-Fridays.
No items are on open access, so you should always check that material will be available before you arrive. This can be done in a number of ways:
Telephone: +44 (0)1392 722096/722097
By post: Special Collections, University of Exeter, Research Commons, Old Library, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter EX4 4SB.
To help make your visit as pleasant and useful as possible we will need to know the date of your proposed visit and which collection(s) you would like to view. It helps if you have found a reference to the material you wish to view. Please check the online archives catalogue for manuscripts and archives, the EVE catalogue for material from the Bill Douglas Centre and the online library catalogue for rare books.
Some personal and otherwise sensitive records, or uncatalogued material, may be unavailable. We can advise where appropriate.
If you are currently a student at Exeter you will need to bring your student card with you.
If you are not a member of the University all you need to do is to provide some proof of identity with a photograph, current home address (e.g., passport, driving licence, bank statement). You will also be required to complete a registration form and you may be asked for a letter of introduction from an appropriate individual.
Pencils, or laptops, are allowed at the desks in the reading room but please do not bring pens or food. There are lockers for storing all other personal belongings while you are in the reading room.
No. All of the material held at Special Collections is for reference use only. Prospective readers must go to the Special Collections reading room in the Research Commons, Old Library to consult it. For archive and manuscript material you must make a prior appointment to avoid disappointment.
There is no self-service copying facility for Special Collections. Photocopies, photographs and scans can be ordered at the discretion of the Collections staff. Conservation and copyright considerations will be taken into account before granting such requests. Please see our pages on copyright and reprographics for more information.
Digital cameras can be used on out-of-copyright material at the discretion of the Collections staff. You will be asked to complete a request form in order to take photographs.
Yes, if you are a registered user at the University of Exeter. We have a wireless connection in the Special Collections reading room.
Yes, we have adequate plug sockets in the reading room. However, we cannot supply plug adapters.
Parking is very limited during term time and it is better to travel by public transport if possible. There are local authority metered parking places on Prince of Wales Road and metered public car parks marked on the Campus map for visitors who live more than 1.5 miles from the campus.
Yes. There is a disabled parking space in front of the Research Commons, Old Library, and a wheelchair ramp at the entrance to the building. The reading room is on the ground floor and access to the lower galleries of the Bill Douglas Centre is by lift. There is a disabled toilet on the premises.
Yes. There is a breakout space with vending machines in the Research Commons. There are several cafes nearby on campus providing a hot food service. Please note that if you are visiting during the vacation only a limited number of cafes will be open.
There is no charge to visit Special Collections. There are charges for services such as photocopying, scanning and publication rights.
We cannot undertake lengthy research on behalf of our visitors, but we will do our best to direct you to the most suitable sources for reference and for study. For further details on locating a researcher, take a look at The Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives website.
There are numerous websites on the internet that will be able to find you accommodation to suit your needs during your stay in Exeter. Alternatively you can find information on where to stay on the university accommodation pages.
Requests to reproduce materials from Special Collections need to be recorded on our request forms, either in the reading room, or downloaded from the website and sent to: Special Collections, University of Exeter, Research Commons, Old Library, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter EX4 4SB.
Special Collections will lend items to other galleries, libraries, museums and public venues at our discretion. Requests to exhibit materials from us will need to be put in writing and either emailed to us or sent to:
Special Collections, University of Exeter, Research Commons, Old Library, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter EX4 4SB.
To make a request to the Bill Douglas Centre, please contact the Curator at:
The Bill Douglas Centre for the History of Cinema and Popular Culture, University of Exeter, Prince of Wales Road, Exeter, EX4 4SB
Yes. There are seminar facilities for group teaching which must be booked in advance. Reading lists need to be supplied on the booking form. Please see our Teaching and Learning page.
No. Visitors are not allowed into the storage areas unless part of a pre-booked group visit, accompanied by a member of Special Collections staff. To request materials for study in the reading room, you will need to fill in a request ticket and a member of staff will collect the material for you.