Special Collections Services

Special Collections Service reading roomSpecial Collections Services give access to the University of Reading's collections of rare books, archives and manuscripts, and the Museum of English Rural Life (MERL) library and archives.

The collections are located in the same building as the Museum of English Rural Life on Redlands Road adjacent to the London Road Campus of the University. They can be consulted in the Reading Room.

DECEMBER READING 2015: READING ROOM ANNOUNCEMENT Due to ongoing building maintenance, there will be a disruption to the normal Reading Room service during December*. We will still be open 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday, and we aim to operate as close to a full service as we can but because we will be temporarily moving to another part of the building, retrieval of archive and library material may be affected.

Due to fire safety checks, we will be unable to retrieve material from our archive stores on Monday 14th December. We will only be able to present material to readers on that day that is ordered by 2pm on Friday 11th December.

*Please contact us in advance if you wish to visit in December so we can do our upmost to accommodate you.

The Special Collections Services and the  are housed in a Grade II listed building, which was originally known as East Thorpe, the home of Sir Alfred Palmer of the Huntley and Palmers biscuit company.

East Thorpe was designed and built by the architect Alfred Waterhouse between 1880–1882. This building was later acquired by the University, and was extended to form St. Andrews Hall, a University hall of residence. The hall closed in 2001.

This online exhibition provides more information about the history of the building.

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