Reading service

Resources available

The reading room service provides access to the physical and digital collections of the Art Library and Gulbenkian Archives, both its current collections and its special collections, including personal and corporate archives.

It also offers free access to a reference collection and a set of recently purchased books and issues of periodical publications.

The consultation of the collection can be carried out in different spaces, according to the nature and format of the documentation and its access status:

  • General reading room for documentation in physical format, with a seating capacity of 86

  • Reading area for digitalized documentation, with a capacity of 4 seats

  • Private research rooms

The reading room service has photocopy machines and a scanner that allow the reproduction of current, unclassified documents and publications from the library’s collections, provided that in strict fulfilment of the legal dispositions in force. These machines are available on a self-service basis and are switched off at 18:45 (17:15 during Summertime).  For more information see Document Reproduction.

There is also access to the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s wireless network.

Requesting documentation

Only users of the Art Library and the Gulbenkian Archives with a valid inscription can request documentation (See User Registration).

Requesting documentation without access restrictions

Documentation from the Art Library collections with no access restrictions due to either conservation reasons or legal or contractual impediments may be requested in the following ways:

  1. Pre-booked requisition
  2. Direct requisition

The pre-booked requisition is made under the following conditions:


The pre-booked requisition is made remotely, on the Art Library’s website, using the appropriate form.


  1. Documentation requested until 17:00 on a working day may be consulted in person between 10:00 and 19:00 on the following working day.
  2. Documentation requested after 5 p.m. on a working day can only be consulted in person between 10:00 and 19:00. on the second following working day (Example: if you reserve a book after 17:00 on Tuesday, this work can only be consulted in person between 10:00 and 19:00 on Thursday).
  3. Documentation requested between 17:00 on Friday and 24:00 on Sunday will only be available for consultation on the following Tuesday.


– Consult the library catalogue available on the Internet and carry out the searches.

– Select the publications you wish to request (the maximum number of items you can request depends on the user category assigned to you at the time of your registration), confirming their availability for consultation.

– Copy the relevant references into the form and submit it.

The pre-booked request guarantees the user the reservation of a place in the reading room for the day requested.

Direct requisition, on the day of consultation, is made under the following conditions:

Where and how

The direct requisition is made in person, at the catalogue access stations available in the reading room.


Direct requisitions may be made by:

  1. Users who have pre-booked requisitions and who need, on the same day, to complement or reinforce the consultation, being able to request up to 3 additional items.
  2. New users that, on the same day, register in person at the Reference Service, being able to request up to 3 additional items.
  3. Users with a valid card, being able to borrow a few copies compatible with the user category that was attributed to them.


On the day of the consultation, between 10:00 and 17:00.

The direct requisition of items for reading on the same day depends on the availability of non-reserved places for that day.

Request of documentation with access restrictions

The requesting and consulting of documentation in physical and/or digital format with restricted physical access – whether for reasons of conservation, organisation and control, or due to legal constraints concerning the protection of copyright and related rights, personality rights, namely personal data, or any other legal or contractual impediment – as well as that of the Gulbenkian Archives, require prior authorisation, which may be requested in person at the Reference Service or via the following electronic addresses:

Art Library Collection: [email protected]
Gulbenkian Archives: [email protected]

For this purpose, the following data should be provided:

  • User identification
  • User code (card code)
  • Identification of the documentation to be accessed, using, whenever available, the catalogue references
  • Reasons justifying the consultation

If consultation is authorised, it must take place on the day and at the time agreed with the reading service and transmitted by email.

Access to the reading room and consultation of documentation

The Reading Room may only be accessed by users with a valid registration, with a valid requisition and with an assigned seat for the day (Information and contacts).

The consultation of documentation in any area of the Reading Room must finish until 15 minutes before the closing time of the service (18:45 in Wintertime and 17:15 in Summertime).

Private research rooms

The library has private research rooms for researchers to carry out research projects involving intensive use of information resources from the collections of the Art Library and/or the Gulbenkian Archives.

The allocation of research rooms depends on their availability at any given time and is carried out for periods of up to three months.

Users of the Art Library and the Archives may apply for the allocation of a research room by submitting a reasoned application which should be sent to the address [email protected], with the following data:

  • Identification
  • Academic or scientific affiliation
  • Description of the research project, including information about the strategy of consultation and exploration of the information and documentation resources of the Art Library and Archives
  • Expected period of use of the room
  • Letter of recommendation from the supervisor or the institution where he is affiliated

In return, the researcher shall offer the Art Library and Archives a copy of the documental result of his research, together with the faculty to integrate it in the collections and to make it available to the public within a period to be agreed upon.

Updated on 09 january 2023

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