Access our Special Collections

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Special Collections and Archives and the National Fairground and Circus Archive are now open to University of Sheffield student and staff researchers only for the following bookable sessions: 

Tuesday 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm. 

Wednesday 10am-12.30pm and 1.30pm-4pm.

The National Fairground and Circus Archive in Western Bank Library will be used as the reading room for both services and can accommodate up to two researchers per session. 

If you wish to book a session, please contact us at: 

Special Collections and Archives: lib-special@sheffield.ac.uk

National Fairground and Circus Archive: nfa@sheffield.ac.uk

Please bear in mind that a member of our small team will be coming onto campus especially to open the reading room for you, so do LET US KNOW AS SOON AS POSSIBLE IF YOU NEED TO CANCEL YOUR APPOINTMENT. Thank you.


Guidance for researchers

  • Please book your visit at least three working days in advance. You will need to agree the list of material to be consulted with Special Collections or the National Fairground and Circus Archive. We will email you a consultation / booking form that needs to be completed ahead of your visit.
  • If possible, please bring your own fully charged laptop if required. The PCs in the reading room will only be available to consult digital / microfilm / microfiche material that is not available online. 
  • Please follow the usual library rules concerning social distancing and the use of a face covering. 
  • Please wash your hands with soap and water ahead of your visit. 
  • We are accepting individual bookings only during these hours (unless a carer is required). Please contact us to discuss group bookings. 
  • Please bring your U card as evidence of identity. 
  • No pens allowed in the Reading Room; you may use pencils and laptops for taking notes.
  • Eating and drinking is not permitted in the Reading Room.
  • Bags cannot be taken into the Reading Room; lockers are provided.
  • Please show consideration towards other readers by keeping noise to a minimum.
  • Photocopiers are not available at present. You may be permitted to take photographs using your own camera. Please enquire to find out further information on copies ahead of your visit.

Use of materials

Please handle our rare and unique collections with care:

  • Do not lean on material, or rest your own notes on them.
  • Please use book rests to support volumes; book snakes are available to hold down pages.
  • Please keep all manuscripts and files in their original order.

Please ask a member of staff for assistance; we are happy to help.


The University Library’s Special Collections and Archives Digitisation for Research Service

Special Collections and Archives and the National Fairground and Circus Archive are currently offering a digitisation service for small research projects, such as dissertations and theses. We encourage you to use this service as an alternative to visiting the reading room if you only wish to consult a small quantity of material.

  • We will provide up to 10 high resolution scans or 25 low resolution photographs of items from our collections. 
  • The images will be provided free of charge.
  • We will supply them within 10 days of accepting a request. 

To make a digitisation request, please contact us at:  

Special Collections and Archives: lib-special@sheffield.ac.uk

National Fairground and Circus Archive: nfa@sheffield.ac.uk

We are also happy to discuss requests for larger scale digitisation to support research or teaching.

Please note that due to copyright and data protection legislation there may be restrictions on the material that we can provide and we may ask you to complete an agreement before accessing the material.  This service is only available to University of Sheffield staff and students.

Accessibility guide for visitors

Ask a question

Email: library@sheffield.ac.uk

Phone: +44 114 222 7200

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