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Virtual Reading Room Service

How to book a digital appointment to view Special Collections material remotely, wherever you are based.

The Special Collections staff member was super helpful and kind. She even offered supplementary information on how to read old medical texts. All of my questions were answered.

I found out a lot of new facts about my ancestor and his father too. It was extremely interesting. I would recommend this service to anyone.

It was a brilliant session and it was really easy to see the materials and read through them. It is really a great initiative and very useful for researchers who cannot travel. Everything was perfectly organised.

As a part time student it’s more convenient to book a one hour session I can attend from home than travel to campus for a short consultation with a single document.

What is the Virtual Reading Room Service?

Through our Virtual Reading Room Service you can book a digital appointment to view Special Collections material remotely, wherever you are based. Digital appointments are one hour in length and are facilitated by a member of Special Collections staff, using an onsite visualiser and viewed via the video conferencing platform Zoom. During the digital appointment, a member of Special Collections staff will go through the material at your direction while you view the item on the screen.

Who can use the Virtual Reading Room Service?

Appointments are suitable for all researchers and students, whether members of Newcastle University or external researchers.

Image of a woman standing at a desk (left of image) with an item from Special Collections under a visualiser and then to large screens on the wall (right of image) showing a Zoom call with Special Collections and the Special Collections items on the screen
A man sat at a desk, in front of a laptop with a close up image of manuscript handwriting. Beside him on the desk is a visualiser looking over a manuscript.

What are the benefits of using the Virtual Reading Room Service?

• The service is free to use
• you can make a quick assessment of material before you visit, allowing you to prioritise your time
• if you are unable to visit us in person, you can view the material digitally, wherever you are based
• you can assess a Special Collections item(s) for content which you then might then like to submit for Digitisation. For example, the digital appointment is good to determine the size, the number of pages and the materiality of the item(s)
• if you are unfamiliar with Special Collections and Archives services, a Virtual Reading Room appointment can offer a good introduction.
• The session allows you to speak to a member of staff. As well as going through the material at your direction, we may be able to offer advice on other collections here or elsewhere that could take your research further.

Please note:

Sometimes the size, condition or content may mean that material is not suitable for a digital appointment. If material you request is unsuitable for consultation via the virtual reading room service, or if it has already been digitised and is available to view through our online image platform CollectionsCaptured, you will be contacted by a member of Special Collections staff after you have submitted your request form.

How to order your digital copies

How to book an appointment

  1. Before booking a digital appointment, you will need access to Zoom. Zoom is a free communications platform that allows users to connect with video online. This is what a member of Special Collections staff will use to host the digital appointment. Visit Zoom online to sign up.

  2. Once you signed up with Zoom, you will need to know the details of the archive collection item(s) or a rare book(s) you would like to view.

    Start by browsing or searching our collections.

  3. Once you know what you would like to view, please complete and submit a virtual reading room request form below:

    Virtual Reading Room Request form
  4. After requesting an item(s), a member of Special Collections staff will retrieve the material. We will then contact you via email within 2 workings days (Mon-Fri) allocating a date and time of your session, and you will be provided with the Zoom meeting link and password which you will need for your session.

    The date and time of your session will be based on preference and availability. If the date and/or time requested is unavailable, a member of Special Collections staff will offer an alternative.


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