British Library

British Library
96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB

For general Reading Room enquiries (020) 7412 7676
For Reader Registration (020) 7412 7676


There is no history library as the British Library humanities collection is not arranged by subject. The following reading rooms at St Pancras offer access to collections and services that would be relevant to historians:

Humanities reading room  (020) 7412 7831
Rare Books and Music reading room (01937) 546 060
Asian and African Studies reading room (020) 7412 7873
Maps reading room (020) 7412 7702
Manuscripts reading room (020) 7412 7513
Social Sciences reading room  (020) 7412 7894

The historian would also need to take into account the Newspaper Library, based at Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5HE, tel. (020) 7412 7353, e-mail:

Hours of opening:

The St Pancras reading rooms are open Monday from 1000 and Tuesday to Saturday, from 0930. Please contact the Library to check closing times.


Admission to the reading rooms is by pass only. Access is provided to all who need to use our collections. To obtain a reader pass you will need to complete an application form with details of your research. It is helpful to bring along anything which may support your application, such as a student card, business card, letter of introduction or a list of items that we hold.

All applicants should go to Reader Registration, and take along 2 forms of identity, one with a signature e.g. bank card, driving licence or passport, and one with an address e.g. bank statement or utility bill.For further information, see the British Library web site at

The reading rooms are accessible for those with disabilities.

Reader places:

c.1200 when all St Pancras reading rooms are open.

Librarian in charge of History collection:

Not applicable.

Staff availabilty:

The reference enquiry desks are always staffed during the hours when the library is open.


No separate history catalogues. There are a large number of special catalogues in the British Library, which are too numerous to list. Important catalogues are usually to be found in bibliographical literature associated with the subject of study, e.g. Thomason tracts, Place collection.

The main catalogue is Explore the British Library which covers the majority of the Library's collection. Accessible on the web at


A classification system is not used for placing books on the shelves - a fixed location system is used. The majority of the collection is stored in closed access and needs to be ordered.  (Items stored offsite cannot always be delivered on the day they are ordered). Each reading room has a substantial open access collection relevant to the focus of studies.


As it is the national library all British books, periodicals, etc. should be received by legal deposit and foreign material on all subjects is acquired, chiefly at research level.

Special collections or strengths:

It would not be feasible to list all the strengths of the library here, but because of the nature and age of the library, nearly all British and much foreign material required by the historian can be found here. Advice can be given by staff at the reference enquiry desks on particular collections.

Additional facilities:

A full range of photographic services is provided subject to the provisions of the copyright law and conservation requirements.

There is a restaurant and coffee shop in the building and small cafes in the vicinity. There are exhibition galleries where historical treasures are displayed.

Each reading room has study carrels where equipment that might be noisy to use in the reading rooms can be used.

Personal computers can be used at designated desks in each reading room (power sockets are available).

Please note: The Library does not permit coats and bags (including PC carrying cases) to be taken into reading rooms. There is a cloakroom and lockers for storage of small bags and coats.