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Foyle Special Collections Library

Find the Foyle Special Collections Library


The Foyle Special Collections Library houses some 200,000 printed works, as well as maps, slides, sound recordings and manuscript material. Its collections, built up over centuries by purchase, gift and bequest, contain many unique items and cover all subject areas, but they are particularly strong in:

  • European military and diplomatic history
  • Jewish and Christian theology
  • The history of the British Empire
  • The history of Greece and the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Medicine
  • Science
  • 20th century Germany
  • Voyages and travels

Find out more about the Collections we hold

Opening hours:

From early November 2020, the Foyle Special Collections Library will be open by prior arrangement to King’s staff and students, to support priority teaching, study and research needs.

We have limited capacity and it will not be possible to accommodate all requests to visit the Reading Room. Please note: it is essential to only visit by prior arrangement, and we will operate a ‘no booking, no visit’ policy.

Priority will be given to students on courses that involve the use of special collections as part of the curriculum.

Please contact us at if you need to consult material and include the information below:

  • Library catalogue references for the items you would like to view. You may request a maximum of six items at any one time. It will not be possible for us to retrieve any items for you on the day
  • Please state your reasons for wishing to consult this material and whether a digitised version would suffice (if available)
  • If you are a student, please include details of your course or programme of study
  • Please indicate when you would be able to visit if that proves possible. Reading Room visits will be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays, between 11.00 and 16.00 (with the Reading Room closed from 13.00 to 14.00), subject to staff and Reading Room desk availability
  • To ensure social distancing, our Reading Room will have a limited capacity and it may not always be possible for us to accommodate your preferred visit date.
  • We require at least three working days’ notice before any potential visit.

Once we have received this information, we will get back to you to confirm arrangements. All visits will be conducted in line with King’s staying safe on campus guidance

For the latest information about all Libraries & Collections services please visit our Coronavirus update webpage.


The Foyle Special Collections Library welcomes all King’s students and staff, and members of the public, to use our collections.

King's students and staff

King’s students and staff must present their university identification card.

Other users

All external users must present a photographic form of identification, e.g. passport, driving licence, university ID card, or a letter of introduction.

Entrance to the Foyle Special Collections Library
Entrance to the Foyle Special Collections Library

All visitors to the Foyle Special Collections Library are required to sign the visitors’ book upon arrival.


Once you arrive at the Maughan Library please go through the main gates and the entrance to the Foyle Special Collections library is on the right at the top of the steps.


Please press the buzzer at the bottom of the steps to be let into the building.





Finding material and using the Library catalogue

You are welcome to visit without an appointment and we are happy to help with your enquiry.

However, to help you make the most of your visit - and this particularly applies to visitors from outside King's - we recommend that you Contact Us to make an appointment at least one working day in advance, either by telephone, email, or in writing.

By consulting the Special Collections subset of the library catalogue before your visit and giving us full details of the material you would like to see, you can help us to ensure that we have items ready for you on arrival.

Please see the link to the catalogue here

Search tips for getting the best out of the catalogue are provided below:

Special Collections catalogue search hints

Alternatively, material can be ordered in person in the Reading Room. When you visit, we are happy to help you to search the catalogue in order to identify material relevant to your studies.

The Reading Rooms are supervised at all times.

Archives and Special Collections

Readers with disabilities

  • The reading room is wheelchair-accessible via the Maughan Library
  • A Topaz XL magnifier is available for visually impaired readers
  • The use of tape recorders for taking notes may be permitted at the discretion of the staff and with the agreement of other readers present
  • There are accessible toilet facilities within the department

It may be possible to arrange parking facilities if users Contact us in advance.