Archives and Special Collections

The National Oceanographic Library holds a unique collection within its archives and special collections.

Our physical collection includes scientific data, photographs, monographs, slides, videos and other media from the following sources:

We also have an internal database, please contact the Library for materials not located on the list above.

Access to the archives and special collections

You are welcome to come and use material from the archives and special collections. You will need to make an appointment to visit the library and request material in advance. Access to the Archive is not permitted; materials will be brought to you in the main library.

We are happy to help with any enquiries relating to our collections. Please email us, providing as much information about your enquiry as possible – the more we know, the easier it is for us to help.

Crowdsourcing Project

This NOL Crowdsourcer project has been set up to capture information about our images. Through the years many images have been collected in the Archive but unfortunately metadata has not always been given to each image. If you would like to be part of our Crowdsourcing project please contact us.

Archives visiting times are by appointment only.

For curatorial reasons, the following specific library regulations apply to the use of these collections (click to expand).

  1. All visits are by prior appointment with the Head of Information Services, and adequate warning must be given. All readers must sign in at the NOCS reception desk and wear their visitor badge, and additionally sign in the Library visitor’s book and produce proof of identity when they enter and leave the Library. Library visiting hours are from 09:30 to 16:30. The collections are made available by appointment only. No new material is produced for readers between 12:00–14:00 each day.
  2. All readers are required to complete a formal declaration that they will abide by these regulations and all other regulations for the use of and reproduction of materials held within the Archives and Special Collections. Infringement will render a reader liable to exclusion and could result in contractual liabilities.
  3. Readers items are left in the Library at the risk of the owner.
  4. Normally access to the Archive is not permitted. Material will be accessed by library staff for use by readers (signed out, and back in the Archive log book, by library staff). Readers in special circumstances may have accompanied Archive access for a limited period only.
  5. Readers should use the reserved desks next to the Librarian’s office.
  6. All work must be done in pencil.
  7. Researchers must do nothing to damage any document, book or object. Any damage or accident must be reported at once to the Librarian or member of staff in charge.
  8. Documents, books and objects may not be removed from the Library.
  9. No eating, drinking or smoking is permitted.
  10. The number of documents, books or objects issued at any one time to a reader may be limited. Where a reader is allowed a number of items, he or she must ensure that they are kept in their proper order. Readers are required to follow directions given by Library staff for handling items. Fragile material may be withheld.
  11. Readers are required to follow the directions of Library staff for the evacuation of the Library in the event of fire or other emergency.
  12. No publication right is vested in any reader through the issue of a document, book or object. All publication right is reserved.
  13. Separate regulations apply for photocopying, photography, quotation from and publication of material in the collections.
  14. Researchers are required to supply the Library with a copy of any publication resulting from work on the collections.
  15. The Librarian may exclude or cause to be removed any person who contravenes these regulations or whose exclusion from the library is, in their opinion, necessary for its proper use and regulation.
  1. Photocopies and photographs of many items in the collections can be supplied. For curatorial reasons, all copying and photography is done by members of staff unless permission to do so is given.
  2. Photocopies and photographs of many items in the collections can be supplied. For curatorial reasons, all copying and photography is done by members of staff unless permission to do so is given.
  3. Copies and photographs are supplied only for private research and study. They are not supplied for publication or for the purposes of commercial research unless the prior written agreement of the National Oceanographic Library has been obtained and no infraction of copyright will result. No more than one copy of each item will be supplied, provided no copy has previously been obtained from another institution.
  4. No publication right is vested in any researcher through the supply of a copy of a document in any medium. All publication right is reserved.
  5. Documents and books will be copied and objects photographed only if no damage to the original will result.
  6. Photocopying is not normally undertaken on the same day: an estimate will be supplied and on payment the work will be carried out in strict order. For curatorial reasons, no more than 50 photocopies per annum will be supplied to each reader: requests in excess of this amount will be agreed on an individual basis.The estimate will be forwarded to the reader who must return this with the signed copyright declaration. (A return of a signed copyright declaration is acceptable by post, or fax. Regulations do not permit this as an email attachment.) Completion time for photocopying is subject to staff available.
  7. Private photography of documents and books is permitted, the use of flash is not. Where there has been prior application and agreement, working photographs of objects may be made: curatorial staff are required to supervise the process. Commercial tariffs for filming are available on application.
  8. Some sections of the collections, including recent private correspondence, may not be copied at all. Library staff will advise you.
  9. The prior written approval of the Librarian is required for all publications quoting from or reproducing material in the Archives and Special Collections. While as liberal an approach as possible is adopted, some of the collections remain private property and the permission of the owners for publication must be sought through the Librarian. Copyright clearance is also required in many instances.
  10. Where publication is concerned, the Library may charge a reproduction fee in addition to the costs of supplying copies. Readers should note that owners of items in the collections and/or copyright owners may also require payment for licences for reproduction, Library staff will advise you.