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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 (closing over lunch)

Please book your visit at least 48 working hours in advance (excluding weekends or bank holidays), or longer if you can, to allow staff time to prepare your materials. Data Protection and copyright restrictions apply to some of our 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.

Please note that the Reading Room will be closed from 5-16th August inclusive for our annual stocktake. 

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

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 they may contain information on living persons subject to the UK Data Protection Act. To access this material you will be asked to complete and sign our Data Protection form, which declares that you will not disclose information mentioned in the papers which could be harmful to living persons .


Registered Assistance dogs are very welcome in our Reading Room and Galleries.

Please be advised that all other dogs are not permitted inside University of Exeter library buildings.

External Researchers

External readers must register with Special Collections on arrival. Registration requires photo identification and confirmation of home address. The following forms of identification are acceptable: 

  • Photo Driving licence 
  • Passport, & bill, or official letter, showing home address

During registration staff will provide you with a Reader's Card valid for 3 years. You will need this Reader's card number in order to complete the registration form.

After you have registered with us and received your Reader's Card 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.  You must complete the relevant request form based on the type of copying required:

  • Digital image request
  • Self-service photography request
  • Photocopy request

Reproduction or publication of works that remain in Copyright is not permitted 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 on reproduction and use. This applies to the majority of our modern literary archive collections.

Staff will be able to advise you if such restrictions apply to the collection you are hoping to use in your publication.

We are not permitted to provide copies of any material that remains in copyright for a commercial purpose without the written permission of the copyright owner. All requests for copies from collections that remain in copyright must be accompanied with written permission from the copyright owner. Please forward written permission to

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.

Permission for reproduction or publication must be obtained from the copyright holder. The creator, copyright holder, and University of Exeter Special Collections reference number of the reproduced item should always be acknowledged in the published work. Individual copyright holders may impose additional conditions, or charges.

All applications to publish items from the collections should be made by completing this form. Before providing images intended for publication, Special Collections will require written evidence of permission from the copyright holders.

Fees may be payable to Special Collections for images which are to appear in publications, in addition to those required by a copyright holder, or their agent. 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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