Information for Readers

The College generally grants scholars access to the collections if they have a good and demonstrable reason for consulting them. Readers are usually of senior post-graduate standing, with experience in the handling of manuscripts and early printed books, and have a particular interest in the collections. It is expected that readers will have made full use of surrogates, in particular the material available online at the Parker Library on the Web site, and catalogues of the collection, before applying to see original manuscript material.

Application procedure

The Librarian is pleased to receive all applications, but has to make certain that all readers admitted are properly introduced and are accustomed to handling the type of material that they want to see. Applicants must carry out the following procedure:

  • Send in advance a letter of application to the sub-librarian, either by post or by email (, including a concise c.v., and explaining the purpose for which access is sought, the materials they wish to see, and their experience in handling rare material.
  • Provide an academic letter of introduction from their home university or an institution of similar standing.
  • Produce on arrival documentary evidence of identity (e.g. passport).

The Library is open to visiting scholars most days from 9.00 – 12.30 and 2.00 – 4.30.

The limited seating available for researchers may mean that your request for a specific date cannot be granted, so you should apply well in advance of your proposed visit. All readers are subject to the regulations currently in force. The library reserves the right to ask readers to work from digital surrogates or microfilm. The library houses an extensive collection of secondary materials and bibliographical reference works which readers are welcome to consult.

Readers arriving at the College with an appointment should go in the first instance to the Porters’ Lodge, where it will be necessary to leave any large bags or briefcases, and from where they will be directed to the Parker Library.


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