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Special Collections materials can be consulted in the Reading Room Special Collections or online.


Due to the international coronavirus situation, Leiden University Libraries has had to adjust its services. 


Please find an up-to-date overview of our current range of services on our webpage on library services during the coronavirus situation



  • Catalogue - Search the catalogue via the tab Special Collections
  • Digital Collections - Find digitized originals and information about specific collections

When visiting the Special Collections Reading Room, you will need a valid library card.

Request and consult

The Special Collections contain mostly precious and fragile material. Therefore no material may be removed from the Reading Room. Only pencils and computers may be used for taking notes.

General guidelines:

  • Manuscripts: one or two manuscripts at the same time. Keep loose documents in their original order and handle one at a time.
  • Printed books: up to 8 items at a time. Please use the cushions and supports provided.
  • Maps can be consulted two at a time. It will take more time to fetch maps out of the stacks. You should therefore take a slight delay into account.
  • Drawings, prints and photographs: we can hand over one box at a time.

The staff at the desk in the Special Collections Reading Room will give you instructions and answer your questions.


The Reading Room provides 40 study places with wifi. Both Leiden University and Eduroam networks are available. There are two short use computers, for checking the UBL catalogue.

The Reading Room has an analog microfiche / film reader and two digital microfiche / film readers. There is a book scanner, available for scanning materials printed between 1850-1950. Please ask for permission at the desk and bring your own USB stick for storing the scans.

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