Visiting Special Collections and Archives

In this post we will run through common FAQs, including how to book an appointment with us, and what to expect when you visit.

If you have any queries regarding visiting and using SCA, please check our Visiting and Using webpage or contact us at

Who are Special Collections and Archives and what do we hold?

Special Collections and Archives cares for and makes available in perpetuity the unique and distinctive historic collections of the University of Liverpool. This includes printed books, pamphlets and manuscripts dating from the 12th to the 21st century; Europe’s largest catalogued collection of Science Fiction material, including the Science Fiction Foundation Collection and a wealth of literary archives; and nearly two miles of archives, including collections such as the University Archive and the Cunard Archive.

Information on the collections can be located on the Collections A-Z webpages and the Science Fiction Hub.

Where is Special Collections and Archives?

Special Collections and Archives is based in the Ground Floor Grove Wing of the Sydney Jones Library.

Entrance of Special Collections and Archives in the library
Entrance to SCA in the Ground Floor Grove Wing

I’d like to consult material in person in the Reading Room. How do I book an appointment?

No problem! Our online booking form is available here.

You will need the reference numbers and/or class marks of the material you wish to consult before submitting the form. This information can be found in the catalogues, which are accessible from the SCA website homepage and the Collections A-Z pages.

Four full day appointment slots are available each day, Tuesday to Friday, with a one-hour lunch break between 1pm and 2pm, during which the Reading Room will be closed. Appointments are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis, therefore if you are keen to reserve a specific date it is best to book as soon as possible.

In order to meet the high demand for appointments, a maximum of two appointment slots may be reserved per person per week. SCA staff will be happy to advise further on availability.

The booking form includes the SCA Reading Room Regulations and Handling Guidelines, therefore please do read these carefully before submitting your completed form. Our YouTube video on handling guidelines may also be helpful.

How much material can I consult per appointment?

We allow up to three archival boxes or six volumes/books to be requested per appointment. Information is provided in the catalogues regarding the extent/size of material, but SCA staff will let you know when you request your appointment if you have requested too much material.

What do I do on arrival?

On arrival to Special Collections and Archives you should press the intercom button by the front door. A member of the team will then let you in the secure area and show you to the lockers, located on the immediate right. please feel free to use any locker that is not already in use.

Locker area at SCA
The locker area at Special Collections and Archives

The material you have requested will be available to consult on your arrival. It will be set-up in the Reading Room for you and a member of the team will direct you to your seat and explain how to use the material on the specialist rests.

What do I need to bring with me?

Please bring your photographic I.D. card and a printed/digital copy of your appointment confirmation. You are welcome to bring a laptop, tablet, mobile phone and camera (please notify staff on arrival if you plan to photograph material; please no tripods and ensure that the flash function is disabled).

As mentioned above, you are very welcome to make use of your locker for the rest of your belongings (including food and drink). Your locker is provided free of charge for the duration of your visit to SCA.

Reception and Reading Room at SCA
The Special Collections and Archives Reception and Reading Room

I’m not able to visit in person, what help is available?

Feel free to email us with any general enquiries ( and a member of the team will be happy to assist.

For more specific research enquiries, we offer a reprographics service, whereby we copy material of a suitable condition and send the images via email/WeTransfer. This service is available for up to 100 scans and copyright regulations apply.

If you are interested in this service, please do contact us with the reference numbers of the material you are interested in acquiring copies of, and a member of the team will be in touch to confirm that the material is a suitable size/condition to be copied and the cost involved.

We aim to respond to enquiries (including copying requests) within 10 working days.