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Special collections reading room use

Working in the special collections reading room

The special collections reading room is used to study resources in the Library’s most valuable collections.

The reading room attendant can grant access to the special collections reading room.

To gain access, visitors must:

  • Present a valid National Library card. National Library cards can be requested from the Rotunda information desk, present a photo ID
  • Agree to follow the rules of the special collections reading room (details below).

Rules of the special collections reading room

The special collections reading room is a monitored space, and the rare and unique material inside it requires exceptional rules of conduct which differ from those in the other reading rooms.

In addition, separate, detailed instructions on handling the material is available inside the reading room.

Arriving at the special collections reading room

  • To use the special reading room, you will need a National Library card and a PIN-code. When arriving in the reading room, you will be required to show your National Library card to the card reader and to introduce a four-digit PIN-code. In case you have forgotten your PIN-code, you may renew it online or at the Rotunda service desk. When you wish to leave the special reading room, our staff will open the gate for you.
  • Any baskets, bags, laptop cases or books must be left in the shelves and basket storage areas in front of the Slavonic Library. The attendant may allow a researcher to bring a book from outside the special collections reading room, if the book is necessary for research.
  • Pencils and paper, laptop computers and other small electronic devices (e.g., phone, tablet computer, camera) necessary for research are allowed in the special collections reading room. No scanners are allowed in the reading room.
  • The reading room attendant can help visitors locate the material, use the catalogues and answer any questions relating to the Library and the use of its collections.
  • Phones must be kept in silent mode in the special collections reading room, and no phone calls may be taken in the reading room or in its immediate vicinity to preserve a quiet work environment.

Using the material

  • The material studied in the special collections reading room is unique, and special care must be taken when handling it.
  • Studying certain collections requires a special permission and can only be done under supervision.
  • The material can only be studied at the designated researcher desks.
  • Notes may be taken in pencil, on a computer or through photography. The following rules must be followed when taking photos:
    • Photos of printed works are allowed unless otherwise specified.
    • For manuscripts and the archive collections, a special photography permission must always be separately requested from the person in charge of the manuscript collections. Contact the manuscript collections (kk-erik@helsinki.fi) before your visit to find out if photography will be possible.
    • Photos must be taken at the reading desk silently, without disturbing other visitors and without flash. A small tabletop tripod may be used. The material must not be bent excessively.
  • A scanner may not be used in the reading room.
  • Pencils and paper are available in the special collections reading room for note-taking.

Exiting the special collections reading room

  • When leaving the special collections reading room, the studied material must always be returned to the designated shelf (National Collection) or to the reading room attendant (other material). Material to be returned to the collections must always be returned to the attendant.
  • Any material taken out of the room must be presented to the attendant (books, notes, etc.).

Other

  • All material to be used in the special collections reading room must be ordered in advance. Typically, the delivery time is between 1 and 3 business days, depending on which collection the requested material is from.
  • The original of a microfilmed, digitised or facsimiled work will not be provided for use without a special permission from the person in charge of the relevant collection.
  • The special collections reading room attendant may provide other instructions relating to use of the reading room or handing of the material. Visitors to the special collections reading room must follow these instructions.