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Your Feedback and our Response

Your views matter to us

The British Library takes your comments, suggestions and complaints seriously. Here is some of your recent feedback and our response. 

Your feedback

The Reading Rooms are too cold.


Our response

The building’s air conditioning system is an extremely complex one and there can even be variations in temperature in different parts of a reading room. In order to correct these anomalies the engineers need to know the location of problems as soon as possible and readers who are feeling too cold (or too warm) are urged to report it at once to the Issue Desk Manager giving their seat number. The desk staff can then contact our Estates Help Desk and give them details of the problem. The Library tries to respond to such complaints by adjusting conditions locally where possible, although this can be a slow process.

However, it is not always possible to maintain the temperature of the rooms as users would like.  The main reason for this is related to the preservation of the collections.  The Library’s collections are stored in controlled environmental conditions, which at approximately 17 degrees centigrade, are significantly cooler than those in the rest of the building. In order to minimize damage from the “thermal shock” of transporting collection items to a warmer area, we try to maintain the reading rooms at 21 degrees centigrade. During the summer months, fresh air taken into the air conditioning system is excessively humid, and must be cooled in order to maintain relative humidity levels, sometimes causing cold drafts as it is circulated.  In winter the outside air is both cooler and drier, and there is less of a discrepancy between outdoor and indoor temperatures.

This is a fully air-conditioned building for stock preservation reasons and has to be run as such.  Turning the air conditioning off is not an option. However, a combination of an aggressive energy conservation policy, particularly on the engineering side, together with a sustainable utility purchasing policy has gradually and continuously reduced the Library’s carbon emissions to a point where we are now effectively carbon neutral.


Why do online Box Office customers have to set up an account with the British Library? I just want to buy tickets for an exhibition.


In response to customer feedback we are working towards making it easier to purchase tickets on-line by developing a guest check-out option. This will allow you to buy tickets without needing to set up a username and password.  The new system will hopefully be introduced next year.


It would be extremely helpful if we were able to save images, from the new digital microfilm readers in the Newsroom, as a pdf to send by email instead of printing a paper copy out.


It is now possible for readers to send newspaper images, from the digital microfilm machines to their own Email address. We have introduced this change so that readers can now choose to get free, electronic versions of these images.


There are never enough seats available in the public areas for visitors to work quietly with their laptops.

The seating in the café / restaurant areas are taken up by people with laptops rather than customers who want to eat and drink.


The British Library has recently installed an additional 100 seats around the public spaces of the Library, all with their own safe and secure power supply, in an attempt to help to alleviate the pressure on these areas, by providing an alternative for those not needing refreshment.

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