Wolfson Reading Room

Wolfson Reading Room

The Special Collections Centre is located on the lower ground floor of the Sir Duncan Rice Library. Our Reading Room is open to all researchers. If you are not currently a member of staff or a student at the University of Aberdeen you can apply for a Reading Room Access Pass by emailing in advance of your visit.  We particularly advise you to contact us in advance if you will be travelling from outwith Aberdeen - this way we can help you to prepare for your visit and can arrange for materials to be ready for you, so that you can make the most of your research time. 

Further information about Visiting the Library and a campus map for Old Aberdeen are also available.

Please email us for further information about an Access Pass.

Getting Here

By Car

Parking on site is for staff and students only; however, blue badge holders can use the disabled bays in the parking lot. Alternative parking can be found on the Chanonry and Bedford Road (both are pay and display). For further information on disabled access please see AccessAble.

By Bus

Several buses & coaches pass near the gallery.

First Bus no. 19 is the most direct, stopping just outside the library. Numbers 1, 1B, 2 and 20 also stop on campus, approximately a five-minute walk from the library gallery. Service 17 & 18 stop at Burnett Place which is about a 10 minute walk from the library gallery. You can find more information on the First Bus website.

Stagecoach buses no. 50, X60, X63. X67, X68 & 291 also stop on King Street a short walk away from the library gallery. Service 727 stops at Burnett Place which is about a 10 minute walk from the library gallery. For more information on times and to plan your journey please visit the Stagecoach website.

Both companies accept cash and card.

By Bike

A number of bike stands are available at the front of the library. Visitors must bring their own bike locks, as bikes left unattended are at the visitor’s own risk and are not the responsibility of the University.

On Foot

The library is within a ten minutes walk from Old Aberdeen high street and all aforementioned bus stops.

Reading Room guidelines

Please help us to care for our collections by following our guidelines:

  • Please leave all bags - including laptop and camera cases - in the lockers provided.  Please leave all coats and outdoor clothing in your locker or hang them on the adjacent coat rail.   Locker tokens are available from Reading Room staff
  • The Reading Room is a quiet research area.  Please consider other researchers by keeping your phone on silent and moving into the foyer to talk or use your phone
  • Please do not bring any food or drink, including water, into the Reading Room
  • Please ensure your hands are clean and dry before handling materials. Bathrooms with handwashing facilities are located adjacent to the Reading Room
  • Please work in pencil only. You may use your laptop, but please leave your laptop case in your locker.  Desks have plug sockets for laptops
  • Please handle materials and turn pages carefully. Acid free slips of paper are available if you wish to mark your place 
  • Please use the supports and weights provided to support and hold down items. Do not lean on materials or press the pages
  • The temperature in the Reading Room is kept a little cooler than elsewhere in the building, you may wish to wear, or bring with you, an indoor layer, such as cardigan or jumper

Copying and image reproduction

  • Please feel free to take photos using a hand held compact camera, tablet or phone to help your research. You will be advised in advance if there are any DP or item condition restrictions
  • Please let staff know if you need high resolution images or wish to publish images 


Please note that for security of all, CCTV is in operation in the Special Collections Centre.



All visitors are asked to leave coats and bags in the lockers provided.  The lockers are operated by returnable tokens and are located on the lower ground floor adjacent to the Reading Room.

The Wolfson Reading Room provides:

  • Reader spaces for consultation of materials, with individual power points for laptop use and internet access
  • Map and plan consultation table 
  • Microfilm room with digital microfilm reader
Requesting materials

Archive and printed materials from closed access collections

All archive and manuscript, and most special printed collections are closed access and so must be requested in advance for consultation.

Please search the online catalogues, on the Study the Collections page to identify items you would like to request then email your requests to specialcollections@abdn.ac.uk

  • please note that that there is a minimum one full working day request period; for next day consultation, please request item(s) by 4.00pm the previous day, materials can be available from 10.00am onwards the next day.  Items for consultation on Mondays should be requested by 4.00pm on Friday
  • please note that requested materials may not be available immediately (due to access restrictions). Please wait until you have received confirmation that your requested item(s) will be available before you finalise your visit plans.


Please note: All enquiries relating to NHS Grampian Archives should be sent to the NHS Archivist. Further information about NHS Grampian Archives is available here.


Browsable material on open access in the Reading Room

In addition to our closed access collections, three printed collections are on open access. Materials in these collections are for consultation only and are not borrowable:  

  • Local Collection – covering the north-east corner of Scotland and the former Grampian Region, with special emphasis on the University and its history
  • S Collection – relating to the study of books and manuscripts and complementing our printed and archive collections
  • Periodicals – including historical society publications, journals and serial titles, dating mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries. 


Research enquiries

How and where to send an enquiry

We welcome all research enquiries relating to the University’s archive and printed collections. 

Please send your enquiry to specialcollections@abdn.ac.uk 

Wolfson Reading Room, Special Collections Centre
The Sir Duncan Rice Library
Bedford Road
AB24 3AA

What to include in your enquiry

Please provide as much information that you can, to assist us to search the collections on your behalf. Please note though that we are unable to carry out extensive research. To help us answer your enquiry, please advise us of any deadlines you may have.

We are able to offer a limited research copy service for remote researchers but we are not able to carry out extensive image research.

What happens after you contact us

If you e-mail us you will receive an automated e-mail response to let you know that your request has reached us safely and we will respond to your request within 20 days.

Please note: All enquiries relating to NHS Grampian Archives should be addressed directly to the NHS Archivist. Further information about NHS Grampian Archives is available here.

It may be helpful to consult these resources before contacting us

Our online catalogues and collections contain much information that may answer your enquiry.

Information about our collections

These links will connect you to some of our key, and frequently accessed, sources of information:

Information about past staff and students

Digitised and searchable copies of the published rolls of graduates of the University of Aberdeen from 1860-1970 and its antecedent institutions, King’s College (1495-1860) and Marischal College (1593-1860)

Images for research


Self-copying is encouraged, and you can take images of most items in the collection. Staff will advise if there are any conservation or copyright restrictions.

Imaging by staff

If self-copying is not possible because you are unable to visit Aberdeen, or the material requires special handling, staff may make small quantities of images (normally up to 5 images) available at no charge.

Specialist digitisation

A charge will apply for digitisation:

  • Of larger quantities of material
  • That involves specialist imaging techniques

 For more details, please see Image Requests.