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Due to refurbishment works in the Sydney Jones Library, Special Collections and Archives is closed to users from Monday 3 June until Monday 16 September (inclusive). We're still available for your enquiries via email.

Special Collections & Archives: Support for Teaching and Researchaccredited archive service logo

SC&A includes manuscripts and archives, medieval to modern; early and finely printed books, and science fiction collections.

Support for Teaching and Research

Special Collections and Archives

Support for Students

Do you need help in using Special Collections and Archives for your research? Special Collections and Archives offers bespoke one-to-one support for University of Liverpool students.

We can:

  • Help you to understand what material is held within Special Collections and Archives, and why it is held within this department rather than within the main lending library
  • Help you to use the catalogues in order to locate material relevant to your research
  • Help you to book an appointment in the Reading Room to access material

Please contact us at for further information and to arrange to chat to a member of the team (please note that these sessions do not include the consultation of primary sources). 

Please see the content on this webpage for helpful information on how to search for material effectively and using the catalogues to locate material relevant to your research. 

Please see our About us webpage for more information on the nature of the material held within Special Collections and Archives. 

Would you like to consult SC&A material? See our Visiting and Using webpage for information on Reading Room regulations and book an appointment to view material in the Special Collections and Archives Reading Room.

Support for Academic staff

Special Collections and Archives offers support for University of Liverpool academic staff by providing opportunities for students to engage with primary sources within dedicated sessions that may be embedded into modules.

All sessions include an introductory overview provided by a member of the team here. The overview will introduce the Special Collections and Archives service, the available collections here, and a demonstration of how to use the library/archives catalogues. We’re very happy to design the introductory overview to fit the individual needs of the students. A member of the team will also be on hand throughout the session to provide guidance on aspects such as handling rare books/archival material.

Should you wish to consult Special Collections and Archives material during the session, the SC&A Wolfson Teaching Room can be booked by academics for sessions of up to ten students. This service is available for University of Liverpool staff only. 

Make an enquiry:



Using the catalogues

The collections held within Special Collections and Archives are catalogued, and the vast majority of these catalogues are available in an online format. Special Collections material is held within Library Search and there is a separate archives catalogue.

This video describes how the archives catalogue works and how to search/browse them effectively.

View the transcriptions of the videos "Using the SC&A Archives Catalogue"


Searching effectively

If you would like to explore what collections are held within Special Collections and Archives more generally, the Collection Highlights A-Z webpages are a great starting point.

Before beginning a keyword search of the catalogues, you should consider the four “T”s:

  • Type - What type of material are you searching for? For example, are you searching for a monograph or a letter? More broadly, what type of archive repository would fit best with your research topic? For example, the People's History Museum holds a specialist Labour History Archive
  • Tool – What search tool is appropriate for the type of material that you are searching for? Is the record for your desired material likely to be situated in the library catalogue (Special Collections) or the archives catalogue? See the About Us webpage for more information.
  • Terminology – are the words that you are using to search for material the best words to describe the topic? Would these words feasibly appear in the material themselves? Have you considered any synonyms?
  • Time – Have you considered a date range for the material you are searching for? And, more practically, have you planned enough time to visit Special Collections and Archives? For example, there is a three-day notice period for appointments, as the material is held within a closed access store and is retrieved in advance. Handwriting can also be tricky to read (see Reading Old Documents - The National Archives), and you may need to proceed slowly when handling fragile items.

Every archive/special collection repository is different, therefore Special Collections and Archives may not be the best repository to locate all of the necessary resources that are relevant to your research. Using external UK-wide catalogues such as The National Archives Discovery and Archives Hub (archives) and JISC Library Hub Discover (special collections) is recommended to broaden your search.

It is a good idea to record your searches as you progress with your research, and note what was successful and what did not work for you.


 Contact us

Opening Times

Saturday & Sunday - Closed


How to find us

The Special Collections & Archives reception area and reading room is on the ground floor of the Grove Wing, Sydney Jones Library.

The Sydney Jones Library is building 423 on the University campus map.