Click here to skip to content

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

Please supply more cycle racks. I cycle to the BL regularly and demand has increased significantly over the last 5 years


Our Response

We have investigated the provision of additional cycle racks but unfortunately we are unable to increase the numbers. 

The piazza serves as a muster point during building evacuations and most of its surface doubles as smoke vents, to which access must be maintained in case of fire.

The location of the racks behind Newton was originally agreed by the London Fire Brigade, on the understanding that there would be fewer racks there than we presently have and that they could be easily moved aside if the need arises.  The addition of further racks would jeopardise this agreement, and alternative locations are not readily available.


Is it possible to have extra staff to assist with bag searching in order to reduce queues?


We take a dynamic approach to the allocation of security staff and try and ensure that staff are targeted where they are needed. This can mean up to six members of staff being involved in the search regime at busy periods.

Unfortunately some minor delays may be experienced before the allocated resources address the demand they are being targeted against, hence queues will develop for short periods of time.

Whilst any queue is regretted, we believe their impact has been minimal and the security advantages significant; a position that we believe is supported by the vast majority of our Readers.


There seems to be a constant lack of desks available within the Reading Rooms unless one arrives very early.


We do understand that the busy periods can be frustrating for some of our readers. We make every effort to carefully manage the increase in reader numbers and extra demand on our services, by implementing measures such as increasing seat numbers and the monitoring of seat availability and introduction of screens outside the Reading Rooms to best advise readers of occupancy levels.

The Library is constantly reviewing its processes and procedures, including seating and seat availability. Part of our review has involved looking at seat booking systems which are used in a number of other National Libraries, but we do not feel the current booking systems available are fit for purpose in our building, particularly with the high number of users we have and their ;varied patterns of use.

We will continue to monitor the situation in the Reading Rooms, and our procedures, and we will make every effort to ensure that our services operate at a consistently high level for everyone.

Why is Digital photography not allowed in the British Library when the National Archives allow it? 

We are aware that there is a great deal of interest amongst our Readers in being able to use digital cameras in our Reading Rooms. However, this poses some significant issues for the Library in the areas of collection care and copyright.

Some material is difficult to photograph because of its size, format or condition and other items and media are very sensitive to damage from light or handling. While photography is generally considered to be preferable to photocopying, where an item is placed face-down, there are still risks to the collection if items are mis-handled.

Much of the National Archives’ collection is unbound material and therefore different in terms of the copying issues presented. Also, a lot of their material is under crown copyright, making copying less restrictive.

We are, however, committed to finding a solution that is collection friendly, copyright compliant and what our readers want, so we have introduced self-help digital scanners in some Reading Rooms. We hope this will provide readers with the digital output required for research, whilst ensuring we meet collection care standards. The design of the scanners means we are able to open up more of the collection for copying and that some copyright issues will be addressed by the introduction of a faint BL water mark which appears on each scan.

Back to top Back to top

By using this site, you agree we can set and use cookies. For more details of these cookies and how to disable them, see our cookie policy.