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Art and Special Collections

The Special Collections within the Library Services broken down into different themes.

Opening hours


  • the reading room is open for booked visits Tuesday to Friday between 9am and 4pm
  • visits must be booked in advance. Email to arrange a booking

Find a collection

On our webpage

Use the tabs on the Arts and Special Collections homepage to find our collections arranged by subject area. Contents lists for collections are provided as downloadable documents where available

Library Search

Printed books from the collections can be found using the Library Search. Click on advanced search and combine keywords and date filters to help narrow your search.

screenshot of library and cultural services homepage with an arrow indicating the advanced search link


Screenshot of advanced search page with rings indicating combined search fields and date filters

To find Special collections books specifically, check the box marked Special Collections under Library on the results filter and click apply filters.

Screenshot of library search results list with rings indicating special collections filter and apply filters button


Your results list will now show only books from Special Collections. The holdings details will show you which collection the book is housed in.

Screenshot of partial library search results list with details of two books. The collection names are ringed



Once you have found the collection or materials you need, contact the team at to book a visit, or to discuss the possibility of scanned document delivery

Where we are


The Special Collections Reading Room is located on the first floor of the Colchester Campus library. For directions to the Campus, see the How to Get Here page. When you are on Campus, use the interactive Find Your Way map to find the library.

Terms of use

Visitors to Special Collections will be asked to abide by the following terms of use.

  • No food or drink to be consumed in the Reading Room
  • No notes or marks to be made on the materials
  • All written notes to be made using pencil
  • Material to be handled with clean hands
  • Material is not to be removed from the Reading Room
  • Photography of materials is usually allowed, please ask a member of staff before taking pictures.