Using Special Collections

Special Collections Reading Room opening times

  • Tuesdays – 9:00am to 17:00pm            
  • Thursdays – 9:00am to 17:00pm

For details of wider School and Library opening hours, please see Key dates and opening times.

Booking your visit

We currently require Reading Room bookings to be made in advance. You can book an appointment by contacting

Please include information about the material you wish to use, so we can confirm this is available. You may order up to 5 boxes or volumes per day.

Please inform us if you would like any material that you have ordered to be kept out for a future booking. If we do not hear from you within one week, then your material will be reshelved.

Apply for membership

Everyone is welcome to join the library and make use of special collections.
SOAS students, SOAS staff, and external users with valid library cards can book reading room appointments using their current library membership.

If you don't yet have an up-to-date library membership and you are not eligible for other forms of library membership, please fill in this form to apply for free special collections membership. We will contact you to arrange an appointment for you to collect your new ID card when it is ready.

Where to find us

The Special Collections Reading Room (room L66) is located on Level F (basement floor) of SOAS Library.

Reading Room rules

Our collections are unique and irreplaceable, please help us to protect the material by observing the following rules in the reading room.

  • Only use pencils or electronic devices for making notes
  • Leave bags and coats in the lockers provided outside the reading room
  • Don’t bring food or drink (including bottled water) into the reading room


We aim to provide an accessible and inclusive environment for all our visitors. Please contact us ahead of your visit with any questions regarding specific requirements or adjustments that we can make. The reading room is located on the lower-ground floor (library level F), which can be accessed via a staircase or library lift A. 

Buddhist priests, from SOAS Special Collections

Featured image

This page's featured image is a colourised photograph of two Buddhist priests, housed in SOAS Special Collections.

Learn more about this object online at SOAS Digital Collections