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Robert Sainsbury Library

  •            Overview           
  •         Using The Library        
  •         Opening Hours        
  •           Contact           
  •         Online Resources        

The Robert Sainsbury Library supports the research and teaching needs of the Sainsbury Research Unit (SRU) and the University.  Also referred to as the SRU Library, it is a specialised library in the indigenous arts and material culture of Africa, the Pacific Region and the Americas.  It includes some material on related areas, e.g. South East Asia (particularly Indonesia), and related subjects, including anthropology, archaeology, religion, and museum studies.  It  holds ca 22,000 volumes, AV collections and a range of journals which complement those held in the UEA Library (the Main Library).

It is located within the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA), on the UEA campus, adjacent to the main gallery or ‘living area’.  Works relating to the objects in the gallery collections are also held.

All UEA staff and students have borrowing rights from the library, however during the COVID-19 pandemic, the library is unfortunately closed to members of the public.

A selection of objects from the Sainsbury Centre Teaching Collection are exhibited in the Robert Sainsbury Library display cabinet.

Although the Library is primarily a research library for the Sainsbury Research Unit, all students and staff registered at UEA may use the facilities and borrow books.  Unfortunately, during the COVID-19 pandemic outside readers are currently not able to use the Library.  During this time all enquiries concerning Library resources or subject queries generally should be sent by e-mail, to  The telephone on the number provided on our Library contact page (see 'Contact' tab above) will be available but only live during the limited periods the Library is open (voicemail messages can be left). Currently an individual appointment based service is being offered for UEA members to borrow and return library materials. Please read the SRU Library Access to Shelves service guidelines before contacting us as above to make an appointment.


SRU Library entrance

The Robert Sainsbury Library is housed within the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts (SCVA) to the southwest of the campus (about a five to ten minute walk from the Main Library and Registry building). It is located alongside the main gallery of SCVA, underneath the ‘East’ Mezzanine (the postgraduate study area). The nearest entrance within the building is through the department of Art History and World Art Studies (the only entrance outside the gallery opening times).

Floorplan showing how to find the SRU Library from the Art History and World Art Studies entrance


Registered UEA users may borrow on the following basis

Research masters, doctoral students and staff

Up to twenty books may be borrowed for 2 weeks with unlimited auto-renewals

Taught masters & diploma students

Up to fifteen items may be borrowed for 2 weeks with unlimited auto-renewals

Undergraduates & SCVA guides

Up to five books may be borrowed for one week with unlimited auto-renewals

Short loan titles and Reference/special collections/journals

Short loan titles are items on heavy demand because of teaching requirements.  All users can borrow short loan items for 3 days (plus over a weekend or other closed day if applicable).

No loans are permitted for reference works, special collections materials and journals.

External users:

Sconul Access

External users with Sconul Access cards may also borrow from the SRU Library (applications must first be authorised by the Main Library at UEA). Up to five books may be borrowed at one time (short loan books not borrowable).

During the COVID-19 pandemic other external users are unfortunately not able to work in the SRU Library or use the collections.

Library Arrangement/Plan

The majority of stock is held on open access.  Facilities include a photocopier, an IT area with scanners and printers and study spaces where laptops can also be used.  Staff are available throughout opening times at the issue/enquiry desk to assist with any research query, to explain the organisation of the library collections and help find any material not found on the shelves.

Bags are not allowed in the Library.  Lockers are available in the Sainsbury Centre, Library staff can direct users to these. 

Books are arranged on the shelves in classified order, within a geographical sequence subdivided by subject, progressing from general to more specific topics.  Books are also divided into different sequences by size and form, e.g. Oversize or Pamphlet.  These are all clearly marked on the online catalogues.  The classmark (the location label on the book) consists of one or more letters and then by number and - to distinguish between books on the same subject/classmark - by filing suffix (usually the first three letters of the author's surname).  The plan of the Library shows the broad geographical and size sequences.

A number of less used titles, including back runs of ‘dead’ journal titles and print copies of journals available electronically to UEA users are held in the basement store.  These are marked as store items on the catalogue.  There is a staff fetching services for this material, usually delivered within an hour of any request (lunchtime and late nights being an exception).

Photocopying, printing & scanning

At present, due to the restricted library service during the pandemic we are unable to offer self-service photocopying, printing or scanning in the library. We are able to offer a limited service whereby staff will undertake scanning on behalf of users. Please email to make a request.

Restricted Library service due to COVID-19 

The SRU Library is currently offering an individual appointment based service for users to enter the library and borrow books, and also the ability to return items already on loan. The service will be by prior appointment only and on a reduced number of days and times during the week. Please read the SRU Library Access to Shelves service guidelines before contacting us on to make an appointment (providing at least one day's notice).  The Library should only be used where you need to borrow print material not available in electronic form and which is essential to your research.

We regret we are not able to offer a full Library service. Access to study spaces, printing and photocopying and the IT area are still not possible nor can we offer a face-to-face enquiry service. If you have an enquiry please do not visit the library but contact us on

Borrowing and returning books during COVID-19

We would like to stress that your health and safety should always come first in these times, so we ask you only to come onto campus if it is essential and safe for you to do so.  Please check the University website for information

Appointment service open hours ( Currently operating )

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday 10.00 - 13.00, 14.00 - 16.00
(By appointment only )
Wednesday, Friday Closed
Saturday, Sunday Closed


The SRU Library will be closed on both May Bank Holidays, 3rd & 31st May.


Robert Sainsbury Library
Sainsbury Research Unit
Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts
University of East Anglia
Norwich Research Park
Norwich NR4 7TJ
United Kingdom


External 00 44 (0)1603 592659

Fax 00 44 (0)1603 259401

Email Addresses

Library enquiries:

Pat Hewitt, Librarian and Research Services Manager:

Jeremy Bartholomew, Assistant Librarian:

Laura Armstrong, Library Assistant:


Most online resources available to staff and students at the University are hosted through the UEA Main Library, including a number of SRU subscriptions. Subject to the licensing agreement, some of these titles may be available to members of the public.

The Robert Sainsbury Library subscribes to Anthrosource which gives access to online resources of the American Anthropological Association, including current issues of American Anthropologist and American Ethnologist journals.  Although supplied by the Robert Sainsbury Library, campus wide access is allowed for all UEA registered users, but not members of the public. Individual journal titles are also listed as electronic journals through the UEA Main Library.

The Library also maintains a gateway to recommended websites and online resources on the arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas and on Archaeology, Anthropology, Museums and Art History more generally. This gateway uses the Diigo online bookmarking system and can be browsed by anyone at the Robert Sainsbury Library Diigo site.

A database of the Library's Audio Visual Collection. The collection contains video and DVD recordings of films and TV programmes related to the subject areas researched by the Unit. It also includes items of a more general art historical and museological interest and the occasional audio recording.

The Sainsbury Research Unit and SCVA hold several collections of objects which can be handled and used for teaching and learning purposes. These are listed in the Teaching Collection database.

In addition, there are a number of SRU in-house databases made available to SRU staff and students through the Robert Sainsbury Library Portal (and other registered UEA users on application)