Major international survey: Virtual Reading Rooms and Virtual Teaching Spaces

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Friday, 11 June, 2021 - 00:00

Link to the survey:
Survey closes: Friday 11th June 2021

Research Libraries UK, working with national and international partners, is conducting a major survey regarding the development and delivery of Virtual Reading Room (VRR) and Virtual Teaching Space (VTS) services in libraries, archives and special collections, and museums and galleries.

Many collection-holding institutions have been actively exploring new and innovative ways through which digital access can be provided to their collections. This need has been enhanced by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The closure of libraries, archives, and museums to researchers during the height of the pandemic, restricted access during successive periods of national lockdown, and on-going social distancing rules, have significantly disrupted the ability of scholars to conduct research.

In response to these challenges, research libraries, archives and special collections, and museums and galleries have been experimenting with the provision of geographically remote digital access to heritage and cultural collections through the creation of Virtual Reading Rooms (VRRs) and Virtual Teaching Spaces (VTSs).

What do we mean by a Virtual Reading Room or a Virtual Teaching Space?

VRRs and VTSs provide human-mediated remote digital access to collections without digitisation. Through the use of live streaming and visualisers positioned within physical research spaces, scholars, teachers or members of the public can view and digitally engage with an institution's heritage and cultural collections, asking for these to be positioned and repositioned by a member of staff, to enable their research. These are emerging and bespoke services which provide another means of user-responsive access to collection materials.

A link to a video demonstration of a Virtual Reading Room service is included in the survey preamble.

Complete the survey:
This survey asks a series of questions about the development and use of Virtual Reading Rooms (VRRs) and Virtual Teaching Spaces (VTSs) within institutions.

Please complete this survey if you or your institution has developed or is intending to develop a VRR or VTS service. We welcome submissions from any institution and from around the world. A PDF of all survey questions is available on request.

Duration: 20-25 minutes to complete

Results: The results of this survey will be published by RLUK on its website and will be shared with its partners once the survey closes. A summary of the survey results will also be shared at a workshop on Friday 2nd July at the Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities conference (

For further information about this survey and the work of Research Libraries UK in this area, please contact: