Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Reading Room services


All requests for Special Collections materials should for the moment be sent to

Thank you, our apologies for any inconvenience.



Requesting archive, manuscript and printed materials from closed collections

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

Please search the online catalogue to identify individual items you would like to request - please remember to include the days and dates that you would like to consult the items. 

Materials will be made requestable online via PRIMO as part of a phased process, meantime you will still be able to request materials in person in the Wolfson Reading Room or by emailing

  • Please search PRIMO, or CALM the online catalogue for Archives and Manuscripts, to identify materials before contacting us.
  • Materials requested online will appear on both your requests and loans records and will contribute to your request and loan limits.   When your request is ‘issued’ to you it will move from your request list and will appear in your loans list; enabling you to place further requests.  Materials will be ‘returned’ from your loan list when you have finished working with them in the Reading Room.  
  • Materials being consulted will have an 'on loan' or 'not available' status on Primo.  Please contact the Wolfson Reading Room to enquire about accessing materials that are ‘not in place’ or have ‘long loan’ status.
  • You may request items in advance, but 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 will be available from 10.00am onwards the next day, or Monday if requested on Friday
  • Most importantly, please note that requested materials may not be available immediately.  An initial condition assessment of all requested items is undertaken to ensure that they are ‘fit for production’.  After assessment staff will email you to discuss availability and confirm when item(s) will be ready for you.  Please do not make plans to visit the Reading Room if you have not received confirmation that your requested item(s) will be available.

Why might materials not be available immediately?

Materials may have been requested by another researcher

Materials may be on display in exhibition in Aberdeen University, or on loan to external exhibition.  

Materials may be undergoing conservation treatment

Additionally, specific condition, age, size, format, or access conditions may be such that a longer minimum request time is necessary.  These conditions include;

  • Older materials in Estate and Family Papers
    These collections often include older documents, such as medieval charters and fragile papers, which may require conservation assessment, and in some instances, stabilisation treatment, before they can be safely consulted. Maps and plans also often require assessment, due to their size and condition.
  • Medieval manuscripts, papyri and ostraca
    Condition assessments may be necessary. Additional permissions may also be required.
  • Photographic collections
    Photographic materials, including prints and lantern slides, which are stored in special environmental conditions, require a minimum acclimatisation time of 48 hours before being available for consultation in the Reading Room.
  • Lives in the Oil Industry oral history collection
    Where possible, 24 hours notice is requested to establish the access status of individual interviews and to transfer recordings
  • University oral history collection Where possible, 24 hours notice is requested to establish the access status of individual interview transcripts
  • Archive collections containing materials of recent or sensitive nature
    Some records - including but not restricted to, Institutional, Educational, Religious, Society and Club records - contain personal information and may be closed for 75 (for adults) and 100 (for children 16 and under) years under the Data Protection Act (1998).
  • Extensive research projects and research visits Requests to consult extensive amounts of materials may require a longer assessment and retrieval period

Planning your research

If you wish to access materials which you suspect may fall into any of the categories above, please contact us on in advance, to seek further advice and assistance.  Please feel free to contact us further in advance too if you are travelling from outwith Aberdeen or would like to discuss your research plans.  This will help us to have materials ready for you, so that you may make the most of your research time.   Guest internet access can also be arranged, please do let us know if you will require this before, or when, you arrive.


Browsable Reading Room material on Open access

In addition to our closed access collections, three printed collections are open access in the Wolfson Reading Room.    These collections are browsable and may be consulted in the Reading Room by all members of the University and by Reading Room Pass holders (see above for further information).  Please note, materials in these collections are reference only, and are not requestable via the Library catalogue.  Please let Reading Room staff know if you wish to browse Reading Room collections.

Wolfson Reading Room Collections are;

  • 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 manuscript collections.
  • Periodicals – including historical society publications, journals and serial titles, dating mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries.  A list of the periodical titles on open access in the Wolfson Reading Room is available here
  • Please note that all research and access enquiries relating to NHS Grampian Archives should be addressed to the NHS Archivist directly on
    NHS Grampian Archives .  Further information is available here