Senate House Library, University of London

Senate House Library, University of London
Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

History Collection (020) 7862 8454
Latin American/Caribbean history (020) 7862 8456
United States history (020) 7862 8456
Information Centre (always staffed) (020) 7862 8461/8411
Special Collections /Manuscript Studies (inc. Palaeography) (020) 7862 8470


The entrance to the Library is on the 4th floor, South Block of the Senate House. The main History Collection is on the 5th floor, with part of the sequence continuing on the gallery of the 4th floor reading room directly beneath. The Latin American Collection, which includes Latin American and Caribbean history, is on the 6th Floor, and the United States Collection, which includes the history of the United States, is also on the 6th floor. Special Collections/ Manuscript Studies (inc. Palaeography) are located on the 4th floor beyond the circulation and enquiry desks.

Hours of opening:

(The Library is closed on Sundays and for a few days at certain Bank Holiday periods. Please check library website during Christmas & Easter holidays for exact opening times, as these are subject to change.)

Main Library                 
Term Time   Vacations  
Monday-Thursday 0930-2100 Monday-Friday 0930-1800
Friday 0900-1830 Saturday 0945-1730
Saturday 0945-1730    
Special Collections      
Term Time   Vacations  
Monday 0930-2045 Monday-Friday 0930-1645
Tuesday-Thursday 0930-1845 Saturday 0945-1300
Friday 0930-1815   1400-1715
Saturday 0945-1300    


A warning bell is rung 20, 15 and 10 minutes before closing time. Book issuing and photocopying ceases 15 minutes before closing time. Material which is held in closed stacks needs to be ordered. This can be done in advance in person, by telephone, email or via the web site. As the Book Stack Service does not operate at certain times of the day, please make sure that you allow sufficient time for items to be fetched. Material from the Special Collections stacks for evenings or Saturdays must be ordered by 1600 on the preceding day.


Membership of the Senate House Library is available without personal charge to academic staff and eligible students of the University. A membership card is issued on production of a College registration card or other form of identification where appropriate.

Direct charges are levied for library membership for Graduates and Diplomates of the University, undergraduates and taught Masters Degree students not registered with the University, External and extra-mural students, private researchers and for corporate membership. Reference only weekly reading cards, and day tickets, are also available on payment of a fee.

Membership for academic staff and research students of UK higher education institutions is provided free of charge under the SCONUL Access scheme. Full details of how to obtain access to Senate House Library can be found on the library website at

Membership is granted on production of valid identification confirming the status of the holder as a currently registered research student or member of academic staff.

Enquiries regarding membership may be made to the membership desk in the Entrance Hall in person, by telephone (020) 7862 8439 or 8440, or by Email to

Assistance can be arranged for users with mobility or visual impairment. Wheelchair users or other users with access difficulties can be accommodated on request. Assistance may be required as there is little space between some bookstacks. In the first instance please contact the Communications Team on (020) 7862 8443 who will advise.

Librarians in charge:

Dr Jordan Landes                    (History Collection)                                          

Mrs Christine Anderson          (Latin American, Caribbean and United States History)

Mrs Christine Wise                  (Special Collections)  

Staff availability:

The Librarians named above are usually on duty between 0900 and 1700 Monday – Friday.  Enquiries should be made in the first instance to the Enquiry Desk on the 4th floor.


The on-line system provides access to most history books and periodicals in the library and to books on order and in the library but not yet catalogued. The on-line catalogue gives access by authors' names, titles, subjects and keywords. Some earlier material is recorded in the card catalogue, which is accessible at

The catalogues of the Senate House Library and of all of the other libraries which make up the Senate House Libraries can be found at


Bliss classification scheme. Some books published before 1958 have not been reclassified into this scheme; books in this category are all on closed access or stored off site at the Depository and most of them are not heavily used.


The collections of the Senate House Library comprise about two million titles, plus extensive collections of archives, manuscripts and artefacts.

The collections are complementary to those of the Institute of Historical Research. 

History Collections

The Collections comprise overall some 280,000 titles. The wider collections cover all parts of the world, although some material is housed within area studies or other subject and special collections. The History Collection has not acquired material on any scale in Eastern European, Russian or in Asian or African languages as it has been recognised that, within the University, this is a prime function of the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and the School of Oriental and African Studies. 

Area Studies Collections

The Latin American Collection is one of the specialist resource centres for Latin American Studies in the United Kingdom, and is the largest open access separately shelved research collection in this field.

The United States Collection is one of the most comprehensive collections in the country in its field, also containing the libraries of the US Embassy and Institute of US Studies with which it has been merged.

The Library also holds the libraries of the Canadian and Australian High Commissions, which build on the Library’s strengths in these areas.

Rare Books, Special Collections & Archives / Manuscripts

The Library holds a wide range of primary source materials which are of interest to the historian. A significant number of collections of national / international importance are held of which the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature (over 70,000 titles), with particular strengths in pre-1850 economic and social history, is the outstanding collection in its field in the world. The database MOMW (The Making of the Modern World: Goldsmiths’-Kress Library of Economic Literature 1450 – 1850) is based on the collection and contains the full text of many of the publications in the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature. It can be found at

A list of named collections can be found on the Library web pages.


The Palaeography Collection is considered to be the best open access research and teaching collection for Western Manuscript Studies in the country. It contains catalogues of manuscripts and palaeographical works, guides to archives, and indices to the Library’s own substantial manuscript collections.

Periodicals Collections

There are large collections of open access history and archaeology periodicals in the Senate House Library. The periodicals collections are one of the greatest strengths of the library. These include the collections of historical periodicals from the eighteenth century onwards (over 20,000 titles) which are regarded as being a national resource. An increasing number of periodicals are available in electronic versions, and these can be searched for at

British Government Publications

The collection includes much of value to history students, e.g. complete sets of House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (1801 to date), of Hansard and of House of Commons and House of Lords Journals, and all published British Census returns (1801 to date). Most of the printed material is located at the Depository or in the Stack, so a request to the Stack Service for printed versions is necessary. The Library has access to the full text online of all 18th,19th and 20th century Parliamentary Papers, and to the full text on microfiche for all 20th century Parliamentary Papers. Most of the older material is not catalogued (but there are databases and indexes available to facilitate identification of relevant material).

Further information on the British Government Publications available in Senate House Library can be found at

Social Sciences Collections

The collections contain books on many subjects relevant to historians, including the history of Communism, Fascism, Marxism, political parties and elections, Slavery, Trade Unions, Women, and general economic history. The collection is located on the 6th floor adjacent to the History Collection.

Additional facilities:

A number of electronic resources of value to historians are available on site and off site to library card holders at, with the occasional exception. Assistance is available from staff at the Library’s Enquiry Desk, located on the 4th floor. These include:

Historical Abstracts – an online index to material published from 1954 to date, covering history from 1450 onwards (excluding the United States and Canada). Covers approximately 2,100 journal titles published throughout the world.

America: History and Life – an online index, covering the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present.

Bibliography of British and Irish History (BBIH) – a comprehensive, online database of references to literature on the history of Britain, Ireland and the British overseas. The database comprises nearly 446,000 entries, and aims to be as comprehensive as is practical for publications since 1900.

International Medieval Bibliography – an interdisciplinary bibliography of the European Middle Ages, covering Europe, the Middle East and North Africa in the period 400 – 1500. The database comprises over 300,000 articles from 4500 periodicals and 5000 volumes of conference proceedings, essay collections, festschriften and exhibition catalogues.

London’s Past Online – a fully searchable online bibliography of published material relating to the history of Greater London which includes over 40,000 records.

Periodicals Index Online (PIO) – an electronic index to millions of articles published in over 5000 periodicals in the humanities and social sciences. Periodicals Index Online currently indexes over 17 million articles from as far back as 1665. The index was formerly known as Periodicals Contents Index (PCI).

Arts and Humanities Citation Index and Social Sciences Citation Index – these online databases index articles published from the 1970s to the present.

International Bibliography of the Social Sciences – an online index to articles and books published from 1951 to date.

Palmer’s Index to the Times – a CD-ROM covering the period 1790 to 1905.  (Paper indexes to the Times from 1785 to date are available in the Periodicals Room).

The Times Digital Archive – full text of the Times newspaper from 1785 to 1985.

Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals – also available on CD-ROM, this provides references to articles published in major nineteenth century periodicals. (The hard copy of this index is located in the Periodicals Room)

Links to quality web sites of relevance to historians are also maintained on the library’s web page at: Please ask staff at the Enquiry Desk on the 4th floor, if you require any assistance in using these electronic resources.

Theses subject enquiries are also dealt with at the Enquiry Desk, where there are means for discovering all theses produced in the University of London, including those on historical subjects. Information on theses accepted at other British Universities, Universities in the United States and Canada, and some from other countries, is also available. Please note that most University of London theses are now held in the College of origin rather than centrally.

Photocopying facilities are available. 

Microfiche and microfilm reading machines are available (4th Floor).

There are some small study rooms (carrels) available for researchers. Study Carrels are available to hire for £10 per week. Please ask staff for more details.