The British Library

The British Library is located on the Northside of Euston Road in St Pancras, London. The building is situated between St Pancras railway station and Euston railway station. BL has a reading room and document storage center near Boston Spa, at Wetherby in West Yorkshire.

About the British Library

The British Library, as a legal deposit library, receives all book copies which are produced in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Hence, by the number of items cataloged, the British Library is categorized as the largest library throughout the world. The library contains approximately 170-200 million items from various countries.


It is a major research library, which provides lots of items in many languages and in many formats, both digital and print, including books, journals, newspapers, manuscripts, magazines, music/sound recordings, videos, databases, maps, play-scripts, patents, stamps, drawings, and prints.


Overall the BL's collections include over 14 million books, with substantial holdings of historical items and manuscripts and dating back 2000 BC. Besides, that BL receives copies of around 8,000 items each day, from each publication produced in the UK, it has a program for content acquisition. Furthermore, the British Library adds around 3 million items annually, which occupies approximately  9.6 kilometers (6.0 mi) of new bookshelf space.


Historical Background


The British Library was established 46 years ago, on July 1, 1973. Before 1973, the BL was the part of the British Museum. As a result of the British Library Act of 1972, the library department was detached from the museum.


The British Museum Library was founded in 1753. It contained one of the world’s largest collections of manuscripts, books,  and periodicals, both antique and contemporary, in British and foreign languages. The museum library had the collections of Sir Hans Sloane, Robert and Edward Harley, and Sir Robert Cotton.


Current British Library


The British Library welcomes around 1.6 million visitors and readers entering the doors of the library, per year. Nowadays, the Library provides lively events, arts, and exhibitions program, many places to read, meet, drink, eat, and shop.


For 2023, the BL is looking forward to its 50th anniversary. By that time, BL aims to become the most creative, open, and innovative institution of its kind of libraries in the whole world.


Reading Rooms


The British Library provides space for over 1,200 readers. BL has 11 Reading Rooms in London. Each room specializes in different subject areas, including:



Visitors who do not need access to the collections, they can use library public areas to study.


A Reader Pass


Access to the British Library is free, but first, visitors must get a Reader Pass and accept the Library Terms and Conditions of card use. Online registration is available. By setting an online account, library users can order collections right from their accounts.


BL Opening Hours

The British Library only issues those visitors who are 18 and over to be allowed to enter the library building and get access to a number of collections.


The British Library building is open:



The Reading Rooms are available from Monday to Saturday, except the Boston Spa Reading Room, which is closed on weekends.

The Asian & African Studies, Manuscripts, and Maps reading rooms work:

The Humanities, Science, Rare Books & Music, Social Sciences, Business & IP Centre, and Newsroom work:



A Cloakroom and Locker Room

BL provides a free Cloakroom and Locker Room to allow visitors to leave bags, coats, and laptop cases. Both facilities are situated on the Lower Ground floor, accessible via ramp, a lift, or stairs. The cloakroom is unavailable on Sundays; Hence, all items must be placed in lockers. 


Eat / Drink / Shop

BL offers a wide choice of dining options. Food & Drink concessions are available from 09.00 – 17.30.

Visitors can eat at:

Visitors can drink at:

Visitors can shop at the British Library Shop. Library shop offers books of any genre, including classic crime stories, fantastic fairy tales, etc.


Free Wi-Fi 

BL provides free Wi-Fi access for visitors at the British Library. To access the Wi-Fi, you should register and log on to British Library Wi-Fi.



BL runs a regular program of accessible tours and events, such as speech-to-text transcription events, British Sign Language (BSL) tours, and audio-description tours.

Besides, BL provides accessible toilets on all floors, and manual wheelchairs, which can be borrowed for free of charge. Note that wheelchairs are subject to availability. Visitors in need of wheelchairs are recommended to book in advance by reporting on 01937 546 060 or visit the information desk upon arrival and ask the library staff member.

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