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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

Request and consult

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

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. Material should only be handeled with clean and dry hands. Food and drink are not allowed inside the reading room.

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. Cushions are provided and should be used to support the book spines. 
  • 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.

Please note that after 4:30 PM no more items will be distributed.

Delivery times will vary, according to the library location where the item is shelved, the day and time of the request, and the type of material. The current status of requests and reservations is shown in ‘My account’ in the catalogue. An email notice will be sent as soon as an item is ready for pick-up.


Request time Available from (approx.)
University Library items (items from
the photography, KIT maps, and Thysiana
collections see below)
Monday-Friday before 16h00 1h after requesting
Monday-Thursday from 16h00 Next day 9h30
Friday from 16h00 / weekend Monday 11h00

- KIT map collections
- Photography (vault)

Monday-Thursday 24h after requesting
Friday-Sunday Two working days later
Items shelved at Bibliotheca Thysiana Before Friday 11h00 Friday afternoon
Items shelved at other UBL locations Monday-Friday before 16h00 Next working day  16h00
Monday-Friday from 16h00 / weekend Two working days later 16h00


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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