Access to collections and services

NOTE: The Special Collections Reading Room is currently closed, until further notice. Please check this Special Collections website regularly for updates.

The Special Collections Reading Room including TUC Library Collections is located at our Aldgate Complex and accessible via the Calcutta House entrance to the University. 
The Reading Room has spaces for study and research and also holds the Artists’ Books and School of Art, Architecture and Design Oversize Collection. A microfilm scanner and printer are available for use.

Admission for external visitors is by appointment only and should be sent to Tel: 020 7320 3516. Most of our documents are stored in closed stacks and must be requested in advance. There is no charge for access. The building is fully accessible and is serviced by a lift.

Important notes for visitors. Please take time to read these, especially if this is your first visit


  • The Special Collections Reading Room is open to visitors Monday and Friday, 10am - 5pm; Thursday till 7pm, during term time. Always check our opening hours on our web page for the exact days of our late openings.
  • Readers will be asked to sign the Visitors' Book at each visit for record purposes.
  • The University reserves the right to refuse admission.

Security and Collection Care

  • Bags and coats must be left in the lockers in the basement; there are clear plastic bags available in the Special Collections Reading Room for valuables that should be kept with you at all times. We also have a cloakroom next to the locker room with a lockable rack, which readers are welcome to use.
  • The Special Collections Reading Room is open to visitors for reference and research purposes only. Special Collections materials must not be removed from the Reading Room.
  • No pens may be used in the Reading Room. Pencils are available at the Information Desk.
  • Documents, books and other Special Collections items must not be marked in any way.
  • No item of food or drink may be brought into the Reading Room.
  • Smoking is not permitted in any University building.
  • All material should be handled with care and in accordance with Special Collections handling guidelines, which are set out below.

Access to Collections and Services

  • Access to certain materials is subject to special conditions, e.g. readers may be required to wear gloves.
  • Do not change the order of the loose material; the arrangement must remain the same.
  • Material held in the vaults must be requested in advance in writing. Producing documents on the day may be difficult.
  • Photocopying and scanning is at the discretion of Special Collections staff, who will assess materials for their suitability and is subject to current copyright legislation limits for material in copyright. User guidelines on photocopying are posted above the photocopier. Black and White photocopies cost 5p per A4 sheer single side and 10p for double-sided; 10p per A3 sheet single-sided, and 20p double-sided. Colour photocopies A4 cost 25p single-sided and 50p double-sided, A3 colour cost 50p single-sided and £1 double-sided. London Met students may use their printed credit for photocopying. External users must set up an account and add credit online (to a minimum amount of £2). Please ask a member of staff for more information about guest copying.
  • Scanning is available to readers at cost.
  • Readers who know they will need access to the microfilm reader-scanner are advised to mention this when they make an appointment to visit so that an appropriate desk may be reserved.

Reader Responsibilities

  • Readers should not behave in any way likely to disturb others.
  • Mobile phones and personal audio equipment should be switched off in the Reading Room.
  • Cameras without flash and mobile phones with photographic capability may not be used in the Reading Room without staff permission. A form must be completed before photocopying or digital photography of any Special Collections material. It allows copies/photographs to be taken for fair dealing purposes (i.e. research or study). Publication of any such copies or photographs is not allowed. It may, however, be possible to publish material subject to copyright and to prepayment of an agreed fee.

Copyright and Publications

  • Readers are reminded that the onus for satisfying the legal requirements of the Copyright Act rests with them. It is the reader's responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright holder before publishing extracts from any documents. Fees are payable for reproduction of any copyrighted material for commercial purposes (for more information of what constitutes 'commercial purposes', please ask a member of Special Collections staff).
  • Readers are requested to deposit a copy of any resulting (published) article, pamphlet or book with the University's Special Collections.

Copying by External Users for Commercial Purposes

  • Our CLA licence does not cover users who are not members of the University. To enable such users to make copies for commercial purposes, the CLA has introduced a Library Licence Scheme.
  • For each commercial copy Readers are asked to complete a Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) form - available from Special Collections staff - and pay a fee of £21.00 (inc. VAT), which will then be forwarded to the CLA. This form contains details concerning what is being copied and assists the CLA with the distribution of the money received to authors, visual artists or publishers. For each item copied a sticker will be provided for the front page of the photocopy (as evidence that the commercial copying fee has been paid) and a 'carbon' copy of the CLA form will be provided to you (which is also your VAT receipt).
  • If you are unsure whether your copying is commercial or not please refer to staff.

Privacy Note

  • We keep a record for statistical purposes, of the names of our researchers and the institutions they are affiliated to, together with the list of documents they have consulted. We do not share this information with anyone else. If you do not wish to have your name added to our database, please let us know.

The materials held in this repository are unique and irreplaceable. Careful handling can help to preserve them for future generations. We therefore ask you to observe the following guidelines:

Please do:

  • Ensure that you have clean hands when handling the material.
  • Use pencils only.
  • Use the book support cushions provided for fragile or large volumes, and snake weights to hold open pages.
  • Turn pages in volumes slowly and with care, ideally from the top right corner rather than the bottom right. This reduces the chance of tearing more fragile pages.
  • Consult loose papers one file at a time. Place the file flat on the table and turn pages over with care, retaining the original order. Keep tags and fastenings in place.
  • Consult oversize items on the large desk at the back of the Reading Room.
  • Carefully unroll maps and use the soft weights provided to hold the edges down.
  • Use gloves to handle photographs, negatives or slides where these have not already been placed into transparent sleeves.

Please do not:

  • Disturb the original order of the documents or rearrange them.
  • Lean on material, or use improvised devices to prop up volumes or weight pages open.
  • Place materials over the edge of the table, or on the floor, chairs or windowsill.
  • Lick your fingers to separate pages.
  • Mark, annotate or alter the material in any way.
  • Remove material from transparent sleeves without staff permission.
  • Lie books face down. Staff will provide acid-free page markers to help you keep your place.
  • All photocopying is at the discretion of the staff member on duty. Permission must be sought before undertaking any copying.
  • No copying is allowed unless the appropriate form has been completed, and any applicable charges paid.
  • Readers are reminded that the onus for satisfying the legal requirements of the Copyright Acts rests with them. It is the reader's responsibility to obtain permission from the copyright holder before publishing extracts from any documents.
  • Photographic images may fall within the Re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations and readers are advised to view our Statement of Public Task where this may be the case.

Our Library Catalogue holds records of many of the published materials held in our Special Collections. However, there are archival resources that are only recorded on lists which are available from the collections' web pages eg The Archive of the Irish in Britain web page and The Frederick Parker Collection to name just a couple of our collections.

Themed lists and topic guides

We are creating themed lists of relevant material to help researchers using the collections and more of these lists will appear here soon. These lists will also be updated periodically.

Artists' Books

Furniture History in London Metropolitan University Special Collections

Local History and Maps

Photography in Special Collections

Resources for Fashion Students

Textiles in Special Collections

Upholstery Books and Journals in Special Collections

Digitised Resources

Digitised content from the Archive of the Irish in Britain can be searched for and accessed from our online archive.

We also have a small selection of resources digitised in our Online Exhibitions and Previews web page.

chat loading...