We are delighted to announce the reopening of the Inner Library for research, the Courtenay Room for refreshments, the Reading Room for quiet study and the Outer Library for reading and relaxation.  We are also re-introducing some parts of our programme and making use of the Institution garden.   The following information will help you to plan your visit and to ensure that staff and members stay as safe as possible.

Opening hours

From 8th September the Institution will be open five days a week, Tuesday to Saturday from 10.00am to 3.00pm.   The Inner Library and all collections will be open for research on Tuesdays and Thursdays by appointment only.

Study spaces

For those wanting a quiet space to work, we have four seats available to members in the upstairs Reading Room and two seats available to student members in the Stirling Room.  Currently, these are available on a first come first served basis.   (Study spaces will not be available on Saturdays from October, as these rooms will be used for small events.)

Outer Library

Our current book exhibition is extended through September. We are also offering our usual range of newspapers and magazines, now including the New York Times.  These are shared use items so to help us reduce the spread of germs we require members to wear disposable gloves (provided) to handle them and keep wearing their masks.

Inner Library and research collections

The Inner Library will be open to members for research two days a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 10.00am to 3.00pm, by appointment only made in advance via WebCollect. You won’t be able to browse the shelves, but you’ll be able to order material in advance, including any books and DVDs to take home. Once you have booked your appointment staff will be in touch to discuss your research requirements. We will retrieve all your items in advance and have them ready for you on the desks in the Inner Library. Please bring your own pencils to take notes. You’ll also have access to online databases via our shared computers; we will provide cleaning wipes so you can wipe clean the keyboard and mouse before use. Staff will be at hand to assist you during your visit.

Programme of events

We have re-introduced our Wednesday public tours (1.00pm – 4.00pm) but these will be taking place outside the building, along the side passage and in the garden.   The Saturday programme is currently taking place in the garden and will move into the Upper Reading Room and Stirling Room from October onward.   We are currently reviewing our lecture programme and will be filming the first three talks of the season to present online (details to follow).   We hope to move toward small live talks and lectures later this year.   Our schools programme will remain online this year and we will re-establish a live outreach programme in the community as soon as feasible.    We continue to contribute to City wide initiatives including Heritage Open Days and City of Literature events.

Current exhibition

Our current art exhibition ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ is displayed in the hallway, stairwell and Courtenay Room corridor.   Please be mindful of social distancing while you enjoy these prints and paintings, shown here for the first time in the UK.

Courtenay Room refreshments

The Courtenay Room is available for members wishing to purchase refreshments (or you can bring your own) and we have positioned Perspex screens where necessary to adhere to social distancing.  You will need to use hand sanitiser on entering the room and we ask that you wipe down (wipes provided) all surfaces after use, including the kettle, milk jug, tables, etc., and place used crockery on the tray provided.   We have our usual tea and coffee and a range of sealed snacks.  All cost £1 and we are operating a contactless honesty payment system via SumUp.  Alternatively, you can pay by cash but you will need the exact change.  Please note that no food or drink should be consumed elsewhere in the building.

Entry procedure

Key fobs are temporarily deactivated to enable us to manage the number of people in the building so please use the buzzer to enter. You will be greeted by a member of staff in the front hallway and signed in. On your first visit to the Institution you will also be taken through a short induction. You will be required to use the hand sanitiser provided immediately on arrival. In line with government advice for our sector, you must wear a mask while you are in the building.

Personal belongings

Coats and bags should be left in the cloakroom.   If at all possible, please do not bring bags into the Institution (small handbags are fine).

One-way system

Please use the one-way system through the Outer Library and Inner Library, marked by arrows on the floor. We do have a number of awkward spaces throughout the building, including the staircase and Courtenay Room corridor – please wait until the coast is clear before entering these spaces.


Instructions for use have been placed in each cubicle for your safety.


Our contract cleaners will be cleaning all areas of the building at the end of every day.  In addition, all books and other materials used by researchers on Tuesdays and Thursdays will be quarantined for 72 hours after use.


If you are unable to visit the Institution we are continuing to operate a remote enquiry service for members via email to: [email protected]   If we can help in any way please do let us know.  We know that these measures will feel alien at first but we will do our best to create the same warm welcome and peaceful atmosphere that our members value.

We are continuing to keep a close eye on the situation, both locally and nationally.  Please be aware that we may need to change our plans at very short notice should circumstances require us to do so.

We look forward to seeing you.

The DEI staff team