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Requesting, Handling and Returning Material

Image of camels and a driver transporting telegraph poles across an empty desert in Sudan, 1915Camels transporting telegraph poles during a trek by Posts and Telegraphs staff to Karima, 1915 (SAD.793/4/34).

Making Requests

When you request an item for viewing, please use its unique reference number. This will be found in the online catalogue. You should write this number on one of the request slips in the Search Room. It will take us about 10 minutes to produce your item. Material can be ordered in advance of your visit when making your appointment.


When you register on your first visit, you will be given a copy of our guidance on handling our collections. Preserving our collections is paramount, so please read these rules carefully and follow them at all times. Our staff will always provide guidance and gently step in to correct handling errors before any damage results, so please don’t worry. Occasionally a particularly fragile item may not be produced for consultation. Such items must be conserved and perhaps digitised before they again become accessible.

Returning your Material

Please tell a member of staff once you have finished with an item. If it is fragile staff will let you know and will come to your desk and retrieve it. Otherwise, you should bring your item back to the invigilation desk yourself. If items are needed again within a week, you may use a blue reserve slip and staff will then keep that item out ready for your next visit.