The Reading Room is located on the lower ground floor of the Library. It is available for consultation of the Library's archives and special collections.
The Reading Room service operating from the lower ground floor of the Library will be closed from the 10 March 2014, reopening again on the 31 March 2014.
During the closure period the Library will relocate staff and the collections to the new location on the 4th floor.
For further information visit LSE Library's official blog.
Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays: 10.30am-5pm
Tuesdays and Wednesdays: 10.30am-7pm (last fetch is at 5pm)
Saturday (term-time and Easter vacation only): 11am-6pm.
Further information on term dates is available here
Under exceptional circumstances we may need to close the Reading Room without prior notice; we apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
Contact the Library at least two working days in advance of your visit so that we can confirm your booking and process any advance orders you may have.
If you are unsure of the materials you will need let us know.
The Library can advise you on our holdings and direct you to collections and catalogues that are relevant to your subject area. However, we are unable to examine files or undertake research for readers.
You will need an LSE Library card to visit the Reading Room. Details of how to get a card are on the Library's Membership pages.
New users or users who are renewing their Library cards will need to report to Membership Services before they can access the Library building. Membership Services is open as follows:
Saturday (term-time and Easter vacation): 11am-2pm
To get your card please remember to bring the ID as required by your Library membership category.
We recommend that you order materials in advance. You can order up to 6 items to be fetched from the store in time for your visit.
Place your request no later than 3pm the working day before you will be visiting the reading room, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. In your email please include:
Your name, and the day you will be using the reading room
For print material:
- Location (as given on the catalogue record, eg “Archives – WL Pamphlet”)
- For periodicals or other multi-part items, the volumes or issues required
For archive material:
- File reference (eg. “HCA/CHE/2/1”, “3AMS/A/01/22”)
- Box number (for items from The Womens Library@LSE collections, as given on the catalogue record)
Please contact us if you need further information on requesting items from the catalogues.
Items ordered in advance which are not collected will be re-shelved at the end of the day, unless we receive a request to put them on hold.
During your visit
Weekdays: items can be requested in person using our fetch service. You can order and use up to 6 items at a time, and place further orders as you need to.
Items will be fetched at the following times: 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm
We aim to have materials delivered to the reading room within 60 minutes of the fetch time.
Items ordered but not collected will be re-shelved, unless you let us know that you would like them put on hold.
Evenings: we have an additional 5pm fetch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for evening researchers.
Saturdays: there is no fetch service during our Saturday opening. All items required for Saturday research must be requested no later than 3pm on Friday.
Placing items on hold
Items can be held over for a specific day within the week, but if you will be returning at a later date please keep a note of your file references and re-order your items in time for your visit.
There are a number of finding aids for materials available in the Reading Room:
archive collections are listed on the Archives catalogue
at the moment The Women's Library @ LSE archive and museum collections have a separate catalogue
historic print material, including rare books, old pamphlets and the printed collections of The Women's Library @ LSE are listed on the Library catalogue
Guides to some of these collections are also available on the Featured Collections pages as well as in the Subject Guides and Topic Guides.
If you cannot find relevant material you are welcome to contact us. Archives specialist help is also available via the Reading Room at certain times (please see below).
To locate archives beyond LSE Library please see Locating Archives Outside LSE.
The Reading Room supervisor is the first point of contact for any questions you may have about using the Reading Room, including rules and handling guidelines, ordering and returning material and access to catalogues.
An Archives specialist is available to answer enquiries about the collections and their use at the following times:
10.30am-1pm (except mid-morning break)
2pm-5pm (except mid-afternoon break)
Reading Room users can take their own digital photographs at no cost.
However, make sure your copying is legal. Copyright guidance is available on the Reading Room desks and on posters.
All responsibility for any infringement of copyright is borne by the person making the copy and the person (if different) for whom the copy is being made.
Cameras must be in silent mode, as shutter sounds can disturb other users. Flash photography, tripods and hand-held scanners are not permitted.
A number of files may be listed on the archives catalogue as closed or unavailable to users. To find out more about these files and how to request access to them please see our Freedom of Information guidance.
Your LSE Library card or the identification required to get one
Reference numbers for the items you would like to see.
Pencil for filling in fetch slips
Pencil or laptop for taking notes
Digital camera for making copies