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Archives and Special Collections

Visiting Heritage Collections

Our collections are available for everyone - students, staff and members of the public - in our Reading Room. Complete the booking form below to reserve a desk and request your materials. Staff will email you to confirm your booking. We are open: 

Mondays to Fridays 10am-12:30pm and 1:30pm-4:30pm (we close over lunchtime for 1 hour)

Please book your visit at least 48 working hours in advance, or longer if you can, to allow staff time to prepare your materials. Data Protection restrictions and Freedom of Information exemptions also apply to some archive collections, meaning that access must be arranged well in advance of your visit.

Heritage Collections is closed during bank holidays and University closure periods (Christmas and New Year). Please enquire in advance for precise closure dates if you plan to visit during these times of year.

Owing to UCU Strike Action on 01, 09, 10, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23 27 and 28 February and 01, 02, 16, 17, 20, 21 and 22 March 2023, we are unable to guarantee that the reading room will be open on these dates. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

To request materials for the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum please use the form below.

You can browse materials by category in the Bill Douglas Cinema Museum catalogue or you can search by keyword.  

To create a list of items you are interested in click on the ‘Add to collection’ button on the catalogue page. Continue adding items using the 'Add to collection' buttons, then, when you've finished, click 'I'm done! Save my collection' at the top of the page. You will be given a link to your collection which you can bookmark for future reference or share with others. Email the link to the museum at to request to view the items on your list or add the link to your booking form. A member of staff will get in touch to confirm your booking.

The museum contact details can be found here if you have any questions before your visit.  

Book a slot in the Reading Room

What to expect during your visit

The Reading Room is in the Old Library (no.7 on the map). 

Once you arrive at the Old Library, please wash your hands with soap and water - alcohol based hand sanitiser can damage Special Collections materials (the bathrooms are to your left once through the entrance).

Head through the Library barriers and turn right, the Reading Room is the first door on your right.  Ring the bell beside the door, a member of staff will let you in at the time of your appointment and explain the procedures. 

Ring the bell outside the Reading Room door (pictured above) to let staff know you have arrived

Face coverings are encouraged in the Reading Room in order to make the space accessible to vulnerable readers. Please bring your own face covering on the day.  

Once seated at your desk in the Reading Room please sign in using our digital diary. You will need to sign in on arrival each time you visit the Reading Room. Signing the Reading Room diary signifies full compliance with the Reading Room Regulations and Handling Guidelines.

  • Please use a pencil and paper or digital device for taking notes, pens are not allowed in the Reading Room.
  • No food or drink is allowed in the Reading Room.
  • All readers must show proof of identity. Members of the University of Exeter should bring their University Library card. New readers who are not members of the University of Exeter must complete a registration form. 

Data Protection

If the papers you are consulting relate to the 20th Century there is the possibility that some may contain information on living persons subject to the UK Data Protection Act. Under the Act you would be required to complete and sign our Data Protection form which declares that you will not disclose information which could be harmful to living persons mentioned in the papers. We would need you to agree before arriving to sign this form and accord with its restrictions. 

External Researchers

External readers will need to register with Special Collections on arrival. For this please bring one of the following forms of photo identification with your home address: 

  • Driving licence 
  • Passport 

Registration is a short process at the start of your visit, where you agree to respect our Reading Room Regulations.

Please complete the registration form below on your arrival. Staff will provide you with a Library card number in order to complete the form.

After you have registered with us and received your Library card number you will need to sign yourself in here. Please sign in on arrival each day you visit us. Signing the Reading Room diary signifies full compliance with the Reading Room Regulations and Handling Guidelines.

Copying archive materials

Digital photography of archival material is not normally permitted without prior permission from the copyright holders.

Requests for copies of archive material are assessed on a case by case basis.  For copies you must complete the relevant request form based on the type of copying required:

  • Book photocopy request
  • Archive photocopy request
  • Digital image request
  • Self-service photography request

Reproduction or publication in any medium is expressly forbidden without written authorisation. Please see Requests for publication for further details.

‌If you are visiting the reading room it is possible for you to make copies free of charge using your own digital camera. 

All images are made subject to copyright legislation. Please note copies are made for personal research only and on this basis, we would ask you to destroy the copies once your research is completed.  

No self-service digital photography is permitted for items which are in copyright without prior written permission by the copyright holder.  Please note that this restriction includes most archive material held in Special Collections. A Self Service Photography form must be completed before any images may be taken.

Reproduction or publication in any medium is expressly forbidden without written authorisation.

Supplied Images

Digital images of items held in the collections are supplied strictly for private research for a non-commercial purpose, on completion of the relevant digital request form.  

Requests will normally be supplied as JPEG or TIFF files via a secure OneDrive link.

Copying is carried out in accordance with the Special Collections Reprographics' Policy, which takes into account staff availability, preservation needs and copyright legislation. 

Reproduction or publication in any medium is expressly forbidden without written authorisation.

A minimum charge of £10 will be made for supplied images. Payment can be made online via debit/credit card. Please see our digital image charges below for further details.

Supplied Images

Copying is carried out in accordance with the Special Collections Reprographics' Policy, which takes into account staff availability, preservation needs and copyright legislation. 

Reproduction or publication in any medium is expressly forbidden without written authorisation.

Certain types of material cannot be photocopied or scanned, due to preservation issues:

  • No bound manuscript volumes or archival items made of parchment will be photocopied.
  • No archival items containing a wax seal or use of watercolour pigments will be photocopied.
  • No items larger than A3 will be photocopied (including bound volumes of newspapers and loose maps).
  • No folding plates in books will photocopied.

Constraints on staff time may restrict the quantity of copying that can be requested, and readers are cautioned that requests for copies cannot usually be completed during the day of their visit.  

Book photocopies for external readers can be posted out on completion, or collected in person. 

Archival copying is done on a case-by-case basis in consultation with senior Special Collections staff and is dependent on copyright restrictions.

Library staff reserve the right to refuse to photocopy materials if they judge that physical damage is likely to be caused to books or documents.

Requests for publication

Many of our collections - or items contained within them - are in copyright and and are subject to restrictions.  

We are not permitted to provide copies of any material in copyright for a commercial purpose without the written permission of the copyright owner and we will advise you if this is the case. 

All requests for copies from collections thus protected must be accompanied with written permission from the copyright owner in advance. This particularly applies to certain modern archive collections. Please forward written permission to

Written consent for publication must be obtained from the Library in addition to the consent of the copyright owner. Please submit the form below to request permission from the Library to publish from our collections.

It is your responsibility to trace the copyright owner and provide proof of permission for the copies to be made.  The WATCH database at may be able to assist you in finding the copyright owner. Further advice on UK copyright is available from The National Archives.

Requests for publication, display - and in the case of some archival items, quotation - must be obtained jointly from the copyright holder and from the Library. All reproductions must be acknowledged  in the published work.  There may be further requirements if items are to be reproduced in publications, including the charging of fees.

All applications to publish items from the collections must be made in writing. The permission of the Library as owner/place of deposit will be required before publication. In some cases, the Library's agreement will be dependent on written evidence of additional permission from the copyright holder. Applications to publish can be made by letter or by completing this form.

Fees are likely to be payable to the University Library for images which are to appear in publications, or for extracts from unpublished manuscripts which are to be quoted. In some cases, a literary executor or agent will expect a fee for reproduction as well.

Payment is made by prior arrangement with Special Collections and can be paid online via debit/credit card.

Copying decisions are made by Special Collections staff on a case-by-case basis

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