September 7, 2020, by Kathryn Steenson

Reading Room Reopening!

After almost six months working from home (more about that here) Manuscripts & Special Collections is reopening the Reading Room! We have made changes to our Reading Room procedures to minimise the risk from coronavirus, so even if you’ve visited us before, please read this explaining what you can expect from your visit.

Poster of temporary opening times on the Reading Room door

We’re reopening 3 days a week.

New temporary opening hours

The Reading Room is open Tuesday-Thursday, 10am to 12.30pm and 1.30pm to 4.00pm, with an hour for lunch and to allow staff to clean.

From the 6th January 2021, we will be open to University of Nottingham staff and students only.

We will review opening up appointments to all visitors again once lockdown ends.




Click and Collect

If all you want to do is return a book, or pick up a book you’ve reserved from the Click and Collect service, then you’re welcome to pop in at any time during our opening hours, no need to make an appointment.

Returned books should be put in the labelled box. Items for collection are on the Click and Collect shelves near the door. These haven’t been automatically loaned to your account, so please take them to the desk and we will issue them to you contactlessly.

The new hand sanitiser station and the Click and Collect bookshelf just inside the Reading Room entrance.

Box with a couple of books in it labelled Book Returns

The old display case now showcases the Book Returns box. Just drop them in and go!











Reserve your Reading Room Seat

It’s best to email us: To comply with social distancing measures, we’ve reduced the number of seats available to six. If you want to use archives or special collections material, then you have to reserve your place. Please don’t turn up without an appointment as we aren’t able to accept walk-ins. It will be helpful to give us as much notice in advance as possible, but at least a minimum of two working days. You can book for a half day or a full day.

All visitors will have an allocated seat reserved for them, and bookings are restricted to a maximum of two people per group, to ensure that everyone who wants to come in has a fair chance. If you decide to cancel or change the date of your visit, please email us as we may be able to give your place to someone else.  We are quarantining material between visitors, and we will do our best to tell you if something you’ve requested is unavailable.

You can search for material in advance from our manuscript and library catalogues. Tell us which document references or books you want to see (and what you’d like to see first) and they will be ready for you when you arrive. If you request a large quantity of material, please indicate what you would like to see first, and don’t worry: you can order more during your visit. Any requests made before midday will be brought to the Reading Room during the lunch period and will be available from 1.30pm.

The East Midlands Collection is available to browse on the shelves in the Reading Room. Please use the hand sanitiser before going into the stacks, and only one person can be in the aisle at a time. All of the D H Lawrence reference books have been removed, but this actually has nothing to do with coronavirus: we have started work on a cataloguing project and they’re being used by the project staff!

Table number stuck to the table with a note about document production procedures

Everyone who makes an appointment will be allocated a table to sit at, like this one.

New reading room layout with only one chair per table

Our new, socially distanced Reading Room.









On the day

If this is your first visit to Manuscripts & Special Collections, or your reader ticket is more than three years old, please bring some I.D. which shows your name and address (or your University of Nottingham library card, if you have one) and complete the short registration form and email it back to us. We will then issue you with a reader’s ticket that must be produced on each subsequent visit.

If the building is swipe-card access only, phone the Reading Room and we will come and let you in. The number is on the email we send confirming your appointment.

Please do not come to the Reading Room if you have symptoms of coronavirus or you have been advised to self-isolate within the last two weeks.

The University’s policy is that visitors wear a face covering of some kind when inside the building, and keep it on for the duration (except when you’re eating or drinking).

Please wash your hands or use the hand sanitiser provided before entering the Reading Room. If you’re using archive or special collections material, then make sure your hands are dry before handling the documents. Wearing gloves isn’t usually good for the documents, as the loss of dexterity can mean it’s more likely that fragile documents will be damaged, no matter how careful people are.

We can only bring out more material over the lunch period, so please double-check the reference numbers before you order, and think about how much you will realistically get through in a half-day.

A copying service is available depending on the size and condition of the material in question, and for some collections you may be able to purchase a permit to take photos with your own camera. Due to the restricted number of staff allowed in the department – our offices aren’t as spacious as the Reading Room! – we might not be able to provide a same-day copying service. We prefer contactless card or bank transfer, but we will still accept cash payments.

Vending machine covered in hazard tape.

There is no food or drink to buy on campus. Not even vending machine snacks.

Toilet signs: open for business!

No matter how many cubicles, only one person is allowed in the toilets at one time.


Toilets in the building are open but the onsite café is closed, and there are limited refreshment facilities, anywhere on campus. There is a water cooler and a vending machine selling snacks and drinks. We strongly recommend that you bring food or drink, as the nearest shops are a 15 minute walk away from campus. There is some seating available inside, and if the weather is pleasant there are plenty of benches in the gardens.

We will reserve a locker for you, for your bags, coats, refreshments and personal bottles of hand gel, as these cannot be taken into the reading room. Please bring a £1 coin which will be returned after use.

You can bring your own laptop, and in fact we encourage it. Free WiFi is available in the reading room. Visitors from outside the University of Nottingham can register in advance for a guest account or register on the day. The accounts are valid for 7 days. To register for a WiFi account, please go to

Other Services on Campus

An asymptomatic testing service will be offered to University of Nottingham staff and students at KMC every Wednesday between 10am and noon. There is no need to book, you can pick up and drop off your saliva testing kit in the former Costa Coffee space (please use the toilets when providing the saliva sample).

Kings Meadow Campus is also host to a regional NHS coronavirus vaccination centre. This is not a drop-in centre and only people who have been invited to make an appointment by their GPs will be vaccinated.  The centre is operated independently and is separated from the rest of the building.

Any questions?

Email us if you want to  make an appointment, order some copies of documents, or have any questions about visiting. This information is correct as of today, but obviously the situation is subject to change and we will do our best to notify you of any substantial changes to the procedures.

We look forward to seeing you soon!

Please keep your distance marker on the floor

Please keep your distance marker on the floor. We’re asking people to stay 2m apart.

The reception area with safety measures including hand sanitiser station, signage and taped off chairs

The reception area with its new Covid-compliant safety measures.

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