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Durham University

Special Collections

Information for visitors

Researcher access at Palace Green Library

We are really pleased to welcome researchers to Palace Green Library, however there will be some changes to services and procedures in line with national regulations and university policy.   We are planning a phased re-opening which will help us to ensure that Palace Green Library is a safe space for all, that our services can be delivered safely, and that we maintain the safety, security and preservation of the collections.

From 17th August 2020, Archives and Special Collections at Palace Green Library will be open 10am to 4pm Monday to Friday, by appointment only.

Please note that we are not yet able to offer research access to Cathedral archives and other collections based at 5 The College, or the collections based at Ushaw College.

You must make an appointment and pre-order all documents before visiting, using the online booking form.   Please make your request for an appointment at least 3 working days in advance, and sooner wherever possible. We are open to all, but as we have limited capacity, we may need to prioritise requests in order to support university teaching and research needs, and others whose work is time-critical, including:

  • Preparing material for use in Durham University teaching, especially for Michaelmas term
  • Consulting material in order to complete a degree from Durham University (postgraduate or undergraduate)
  • Consulting material to complete a degree from another institution
  • Undertaking research as part of a time-limited and/or externally funded project
  • Consulting or checking material to meet an upcoming publication deadline.

At this stage, we do not have capacity to accommodate volunteers. We hope to be able to welcome you back soon and thank you for your patience in the meantime.

In order to process a request for an appointment we need to know the following:

  • Your name
  • Contact phone number
  • E-mail address
  • Reason for research request
  • A complete list of the items which you wish to consult, including shelfmarks or full document references
  • Dates when you wish to visit
  • The number of days you expect to need for your research
  • Whether you will need to use our microfilm reader/scanner or one of our local databases (e.g. Sudan Photographs or Hymnquest)
  • Confirmation that you do not currently have Covid-19, or Covid-19-related symptoms.

Please use the online booking form to send us this information. We are normally only able to accommodate researchers working singly, in order to maintain social distancing within our search room. Researchers are required to register as an Archives and Special Collections reader, and to produce photographic proof of identity and of permanent address.

In line with government guidelines applicable since 8th August relating to public libraries, all users will be required to wear a face covering, unless they have a legitimate reason not to do so.

If you have arranged or been given a specific arrival time, please arrive as close to that time as possible. Please do not visit if you have any of the symptoms of Covid-19. If you develop any of these symptoms whilst at the Palace Green Library, you will be asked to leave.

We will have social distancing and hygiene measures in place.  Please follow all the requests by staff members as they are designed to keep everyone as safe as possible.  Staff will keep a record of your visit (arrival and departure time and a contact number). This information may be passed to the NHS Test and Trace programme, if we receive a notification and request for information.   User information recorded for test and trace purposes will be kept securely for 21 days and destroyed confidentially after that time. It is managed completely separately to our normal reader registration process.

Search room rules are displayed on site, as well as guidelines for users.

You will need to bring with you a face covering, your own pencil (and sharpener) and/or laptop/tablet. You can also bring into the Search Room your own notes and your own books, within reason, and can use silent, hand-held cameras or 'phones to photograph most material, on request. There are lockers available for coats and bags. Food and drink are not permitted in the building.

Wifi is normally available for members of the University or those registered with Eduroam, and as a self-registering public service.

We will be operating with very reduced staffing, for your safety and ours. Please bear this in mind.  We will try and help you make the best use of your visit and to help as much as we can before you arrive.

Please see our separate help page in relation to enquiries and reprographics services, if you are unable to visit in person.

Getting to Palace Green Library

The picturesque World Heritage Site of Palace Green does add some challenges to reaching us.

Parking is not available on the peninsula or Palace Green. For more information see Information on car parks in the city and the park and ride scheme can also be found on the Durham County Council website. A local bus service known as the Cathedral Bus runs between the train station, coach park and market place to and from Palace Green.

Map showing university facilities within Durham City (the Library is the larger building on the west side of Palace Green, next to the bus stop, or number 22 on the static map).

For access details and other visitor information, see our separate visitor pages (our collections are all accessed within the Barker Research Library).

Contact details

Special Collections
Palace Green Library
Palace Green
United Kingdom
: +44 (0)191 334 2972