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Wifi - Frequently asked questions

The British Library’s public WiFi service is free – all you need to do is create an account.

1. How do I create a WiFi account?

  • If you have a British Library Online Account, choose the WiFi network called BL Registered User.

Launch your browser, and from the landing page create your WiFi account by entering your name and British Library Online Account Username and Password

  • If you’re just visiting, and have no account with the British Library, choose the WiFi network called BL Visitor.

    Launch your browser, and from this landing page enter your name and email address. Your login will be emailed to you. You then have 15 minutes to pick up your login details and activate your account.

You may login up to three devices using the same login credentials. If you do not use the service for 30 minutes, you will be timed out and will need to log in again.

In addition, please note that web filtering software is in place, to prevent access to websites which are inappropriate for viewing in a public area.

Please see the Guidelines for British Library users for appropriate use of the public WiFi service for more details.

2. Do I have to be a registered British Library reader to use the Library’s public WiFi service?

No, anyone can use the service, but you need to create a WiFi account. See above for instructions.

3. Can I create an account for the service before I come to the Library?

No, you need to create a WiFi account on your arrival. This is very easy to do, and will only take a couple of minutes. See above for instructions.

4. What is a British Library Online Account, and how do I know if I’ve got one?

Several of the Library’s services now use centralised details for access purposes. If you have registered for any of the following services, you will already have a British Library online account, and therefore you should choose the BL Registered User network when setting up your WiFi account:

  • British Library Registered Reader
  • Document Supply (BLDSS) registered customer
  • Management & Business Portal registered user
  • Social Welfare Portal registered user

5. How can I pick up my login if it’s been emailed to me but I don’t yet have access to your WiFi?

Once you have applied for your login, you have 15 minutes in which to access your emails and retrieve your user details. If you don’t activate your account within this time, you will need to re-submit your details.

6. I registered to use the old service. What do I need to do?

You need to create a new account, even if you used the old service. This is very easy to do, and will only take a couple of minutes. See above for instructions.

7. I’ve accessed my email account, but I haven’t received my login details from you.

Check your spam folder, as the email may be filed there. Look for an email from

8. I’ve got my login and password. Can I change them to something I can remember?

You can’t change your login, but when you log in for the first time, you will be asked to change your password.

9. I’ve already registered, but I can’t remember my login details. What do I do?

You can submit your details again, via the landing page. You will be sent a reminder of your login credentials.

10. I changed my password when asked to do so, but I’ve forgotten it. If I resubmit my details, do I get a reminder of my original password, or the one I changed it to?

You will receive a reminder of your login and your changed password.

I regularly use a smartphone, a tablet, and a laptop at the same time. Do I need a separate account for each device?

No. You can log in to up to three devices with the same credentials.

12. I’ve logged into the WiFi, but now I’m being asked to login to Explore the British Library. Why can’t I just log in once for all the services?

At the moment, not all of our services are integrated in this way, but we hope to be able to introduce this functionality in the future.

13. I am attending an event at the Library. Can I use the service?

Yes, once you have created a WiFi account. See above for instructions.

14. What hours is the service available?

The service is available during Library opening hours. Full details of these hours can be found at

15. How far does the physical range extend?

At St. Pancras, the service is available in all Reading Rooms and public areas, including the café on the piazza. At Colindale, the service is available in the reading room and in the public lounge, and at Boston Spa, the service is available in the reading room.

16. Are users allocated time slots to use the service?

No, use of the service is unlimited. If, however, you are logged on but don’t use the service for 30 minutes, you will be timed out and will need to log in again.

17. Do you block access to any websites?

The Library only blocks access to sites which may be considered to be inappropriate for viewing in public areas.

The Library does, however, reserve the right to review access at any time.

18. WiFi at the Library seems slower than my service at home. Why is this?

If you use WiFi at home, there’s a good chance that you will be the only person using it at any given time. The set-up is different in a public WiFi service, where the bandwidth is shared between everyone using the service at the same time. Consequently, if a lot of people are logged on, this could have an adverse affect on the speed.

19. Can I plug my laptop into a power socket at the Library, or do I have to rely on battery power?

If you’re in one of the Library’s Reading rooms, you may use the power sockets on reader desks providing they are not being used by Library equipment. Please note: you should not unplug Library equipment under any circumstance.

In some public areas, furniture has been provided where people may sit and use their laptops. There are usually power sockets which can be used in these areas.

Please note: the Library reserves the right to carry out safety checks on your equipment as necessary.

20. Is WiFi secure?

Using WiFi with securely configured software and hardware is low risk. Users should enable personal firewall software or features on their device, run antivirus software where appropriate, and keep their operating system software up-to-date (all of which is also true for wired connections).

21. Are there any health risks associated with the use of WiFi?

The UK Health Protection Agency website offers the following advice regarding WiFi networks at the time of writing:

“There is no consistent evidence to date that exposure to radio signals from Wi-Fi and WLANs adversely affects the health of the general population. The signals are very low power, typically 0.1 watt (100 milliwatts) in both the computer and the router (access point), and the results so far show exposures are well within the internationally-accepted guidelines from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Based on current knowledge and experience, radio frequency (RF) exposures from Wi-Fi are likely to be lower than those from mobile phones. Also, the frequencies used in Wi-Fi are broadly the same as those from other RF applications such as FM radio, TV and mobile phones.”

More information here

22. Who should I contact if I have difficulties accessing WiFi?

Please contact our helpline service on +44 (0)20 7412 7005 (during Library opening hours).

If you have any further queries, please contact Customer Services by emailing or writing to:

Customer Services
The British Library
Boston Spa
West Yorkshire
LS23 7BQ


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