SOAS University of London

SOAS Library

Welcome to Special Collections, SOAS Library

Here you can consult archives, manuscripts, photographs, maps, audio-visual material, rare books and SOAS PhD theses relating to Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and beyond.

Broadly speaking, our collections reflect the British interaction with Africa and Asia over the last 250 years, and include archives of missionary societies, NGOs and campaign groups, and business organisations, as well as papers of individuals, including diplomats, campaigners, and academics.

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'Improvement works to start in November

We are pleased to report that UKRI and AHRC funding received for the Unlocking SOAS Collections Project is now being implemented to improve the Library’s environment systems for its archives, manuscripts and rare books stores.

This work is part of our ongoing commitment to safeguard the collections in our care for now and the future. We will be conducting urgent, essential maintenance work and replacing end-of-life equipment.

Refurbishment work will begin from 1 November 2021 until May 2022 on Level F. While SOAS Special Collections will be closed during this period, the some of our collections via our digital library.

While we regret this temporary closure and the inconvenience it will cause, once the works are completed we will greatly improve our ability to maintain the environmental conditions in the stores and reduce our energy consumption, in line with current standards.

As the refurbishment project progresses, we will provide updates via the Special Collections website.

Should you have any questions about the work taking place, please contact

Access to Special Collections

Service update: The Special Collections Reading Room is now open. Access will be provided in the Main Reading Room, Library Level D.

To allow for social distancing, the number of people using the Reading Room will be temporarily restricted, and places must be booked in advance. Users must also preorder all material they wish to consult during their visit.

We have made some changes to our Special Collections Reading Room opening hours and procedures in light of Covid-19, so even if you’ve visited us before, please read our guidance explaining what you can expect from your visit. 

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