Changes to Reading Room opening hours after 5pm

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Restricted Reading Room Opening Hours after 5pm

We are delighted to announce that just under 11,000 people worked in the Reading Rooms in 2016! That’s more than ever before, the highest number we’ve yet recorded. Many of those working in the Reading Rooms are enjoying our collections: use of books, journals and archive material is going up year-on-year. User feedback indicates that you, like us, are delighted to be part of a thriving, bustling working environment.

Sadly, though, it’s not all positive. Reading Room staff and volunteers have recorded a steady increase in damaged and missing books from 2015. We’re happy to say that many missing books are found, and we have a programme dedicated to minor repairs. We also have many books returned to us if they are taken in error. After much discussion and debate, however, we have decided to limit certain areas of the Reading Rooms past 5pm.

Currently, the Reading Rooms are open to Friends and Residents until 10pm (register for Friends Late Working here). In order to maintain collection security in accordance with the best professional standards, we are making some changes to the access arrangements after 5pm.

From Monday, 1st May 2017 the following will apply:

  • Only the Theology Room will be accessible after 5pm;
  • The History Room, House of Wisdom, Annex and Library Services will be closed after 5pm. This will protect our distinctive collections, including the books of William Gladstone;
  • Friends and Residents should request books required from these locations before 2pm of the day they intend to work past 5pm (There is a guide to requesting books on MainCAT's front page, or explained in this blog post). Duty staff members will not be able to retrieve items from these sites after 5pm and should not be requested to do so;
  • All Readers and Friends should ensure that any photocopying is done prior to 5pm;
  • Up to seven residents can have a key signed out to them to give them access to a History Room desk after 5pm (these must be signed out before 4pm each day);
  • Please direct any queries to

We have always tried to balance the needs of our users with our responsibilities towards our collections. Most of our desks are in the Theology Room, so keeping it open maintains the greatest number of working areas. The History Room and Annex contain our unique collections; increasing security in these areas helps to secure the collections for generations to come.

Restricted Opening Hours FAQ

I’m a Reader. How will this affect me?

Readers of Gladstone’s Library can use the Reading Rooms between 9am – 5pm Monday-Saturday, so you won’t notice any difference at all.

I’m a Friend and I work past 5pm. What should I do?

Either move desks before 5pm, or choose a desk in the Theology Room when you start work that day.

I’m a Friend and I only work in the Library after 5pm. What should I do?

If you come to work on your own material, or with books in classmarks A-I, then you won’t need to do anything at all.  You can simply choose a Theology Room desk and start work. If you want to work with material from WEG A-W, or M-V in the main collection, then you will need to request books using the library catalogue before 2pm of the day you intend to work.

When you arrive, sign in as usual, and you will find your books on the Enquiry Desk. They will be clearly marked with both your name and Friend number.

Please note that you must be registered on the Late Working List to access the Reading Rooms past 5pm.

I am a Resident and plan to work in the History Room for the whole of my stay, including late at night. Can I do this?

Yes. We can sign keys out to Residents who wish to work in the History Room. You will be given a quick induction into late working and will sign for a key. Please email before you arrive, or ask Reading Room staff when you begin work.

You will still need to vacate when the Reading Rooms close at 10pm.

Why can only Residents have access?

We know much more about our Residents than our Readers or Friends.  

How can I copy material past 5pm?

Material can be photocopied and printed (self-service), or scanned (staff service), between 9am – 5pm every day. Please ensure that your material is copied before 5pm. We can also issue self-service photography permits and you can take photographs after 5pm.

How can I search the Library Catalogue past 5pm?

Both the library catalogues are accessible through any Wi-Fi or 4G connected device. Simply visit the library catalogues and choose between MainCAT and GladCAT.

Why have you closed these rooms?

It’s a big change in the life of the Library, and not one that we take lightly. We have consulted with university and independent libraries before deciding to proceed. We have also spoken with MALD, the branch of the Welsh government that oversees museums, archives and libraries. We know that the vast majority of our users work in the Reading Rooms between 9am-5pm, and we think that by making the change now, it will affect the minimum number of Reading Room users while offering best-practice protection to our irreplacable, invaluable collections.

As always, we want to hear from you. Please send any feedback you have to