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


  • 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. No material may be taken out of the Reading Room. 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 eight 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 the Special Collections Reading Room desk will instruct you and will gladly be of assistance.


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

The Reading Room has two digital microfiche and film readers, and an analogue one. There is a book scanner, for scanning materials printed between 1850-1950. Please ask for permission at the desk and bring your own usb to save the scans to.

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