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Where is it

The Somerville Reading Room (the reading room) is located in the Spence Wing, left past the Information Desk.

Use of the reading room is for members of the State Library. Join the State Library or get a card on arrival to gain access to the reading room.

What is it

The reading room is a specially controlled environment where you can view items from our heritage collection or fragile and older reference material. The following collection items are delivered to the reading room for viewing:

  • all South Australiana, including published and archival collections
  • pictorial items requested from storage
  • newspapers
  • Rare Books and Special Collections
  • maps
  • Children's Literature Research Collection
  • pre-1920 periodicals.

To help preserve items in our collection, we ask that our customers adhere to the Somerville Reading Room conditions of use.

Conditions of Use

What you need to do

  • You will need to show your State Library card every time you enter the reading room.
  • Place any bags in one of the lockers directly outside of the reading room prior to entry.

What can you take in

  • laptops and mobile devices (switched to silent)
  • notebooks
  • loose papers
  • glasses
  • wallets/purses
  • keys
  • pencils.

What you can’t take in

  • Food or drink (including water bottles).
  • Bags (including handbags, shopping bags, satchels, briefcases, laptop bags, document holders).  Bags can be left in the lockers directly outside of the reading room.
  • Flatbed or hand-held scanners.

When handling collection items

To help protect items in our collection, please ensure you:

  • Use one archival item (box) at a time, this ensures that items do not get mixed up.
  • Keep the collection item separate from your note-taking equipment.
  • Remember not to lean or rest any part of your body on the collection item.
  • Ensure that collection items are supported by the desk or book-rests so that no part of the volume overhangs the edge of the table.
  • Return all collection items to our staff before leaving the area for the day.
  • Handle all collection items with care, be gentle when turning pages. 

Special notes about archival items

Some archival material can only be viewed with permission from the donor. Staff can help you find who you need to apply to, in order to gain access to the archival material.

It is your responsibility to obtain and show such permission to staff before viewing the archival material.

Camera usage in the room

"Camera" includes mobile phones and devices.

For information regarding the policy for photographing the Somerville Reading Room and its furniture, please read the camera use in the State Library condition of use.

Researchers may take photographs of collection materials for research and study purposes only and as allowed by the State Library, based on the physical condition of the materials, copyright law, and donor restrictions.

To help protect items in our collection, please ensure you:

  • Retain images in their protective covering.
  • Use hand-held cameras only.
  • Use the lamps provided, and retain at the height they are set.
  • Flash photography is not permitted, due to the degradation bright lights may cause to some collection materials.
  • When handling the material, use the tables provided in the reading room.
  • Book-rests and weights are available upon request.

Photographing archival material

The State Library of South Australia Camera Use Policy form is available in the reading room and must be completed and approved by staff on duty before photographing the archival material.

Staff will provide advice regarding any copying or publication restrictions.

Photographing published material

It is not necessary to complete a State Library of South Australia Camera Use Policy form before photographing published items, provided that you meet the requirements of the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cwlth) and any special requirements that may apply to material that is defined as rare, unique or culturally sensitive.

If you want to photograph or copy more than a reasonable portion of a publication, you will first need to:

  • Determine that a new copy is not commercially available

If photographs or copies are made for the purpose of being incorporated into a publication, permission must be gained from the copyright holder.