SOAS University of London

SOAS Library

Access to Archives & Special Collections

If you already have a SOAS Library card

You are welcome to use SOAS Archives and Special Collections if you already hold a SOAS library card.

However, please note that Day Membership users are not able to view archives, manuscripts, rare books or theses.

If you don’t have a SOAS Library card

If you don’t currently hold a SOAS Library card then you have two options to gain free access to SOAS Archives and Special Collections.

Option 1:

If you are student or staff member at an academic institution then you may be eligible for a free SOAS library card under the Library's admission rules. Please check your status on the admission to the library pages for further details.

Option 2:

If you are a student who does not qualify for a free library card under the rules above, or you are not based at an academic institution (e.g. a member of the general public) then you are welcome to apply for a free archives card.

An archives card allows access to the library's archives, manuscripts, rare books and theses only.

To obtain a free archives card please present the following documents to the SOAS Library membership desk on the first day of your visit, specifying that you wish to use Archives and Special Collections:

  • Photographic ID (passport; driving licence; student card; national ID card; freedom pass; or disabled person's registration card)
  • One of following:

a) Proof of address: a utility bill or bank statement issued within the past 3 months (any user)
b) A letter of introduction from an academic supervisor or department (student only)

If you  do not have the above documents, or you would like any further guidance about access then please contact us directly by email at, or telephone on +44 (0)20 7898 4180.

When you visit, you’ll need to sign in the register held at the Supervisor's Desk in the Special Collections Reading Room in order to access the material held there. By doing so, you are agreeing to abide by the Reading Room Regulations.