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Code of Service to British Library Readers and visitors

The Library's Code of Service sets out our service commitments to you, and tells you what to do if you have a problem. This information is also available in large print and on audio tape from the Disability Support Officer (Tel: +44 (0)1937 546060).

Services to members of the public and Readers include:

  • Reading Rooms and associated services
  • Admissions
  • Visitor information
  • Telephone enquiries service

Our aim is to give you access to the Library's collections through high-quality, customer-focused services.

In an operation as large and diverse as the Library's, we know that things will go wrong from time to time and that there will be times when our service falls below the standards we have set and fails to meet your needs. We want to hear from you because we learn from our mistakes and will always try to put matters right.

Our Code of Service states:

We also have a complaints procedure.

Commitment to service

Our service will be prompt and efficient

  • We will try to keep queuing to a minimum.
  • We will offer alternative ways of contacting us or of getting information.
  • We will give priority to rectifying problems caused by our error.

Our service will be professional

  • We will serve you in a polite and friendly manner.
  • We will wear name badges so that you know who we are.
  • We will make sure that we are trained to give you the help and advice you need.
  • We will hold your personal information in confidence and in accordance with the Data Protection Act.
  • Where an enquiry falls beyond the scope of the service, we will refer you to a more appropriate source of information.

Our service will be reliable and consistent

  • We will try to keep our services open during all advertised hours and will try to give a reasonable period of notice when we make changes to services or hours of opening.
  • We will try to keep services fully staffed.
  • We will provide a clean, tidy and safe environment.
  • We will keep noise to a minimum in Reading Rooms.
  • We will ensure equipment is in working order.
  • We will provide back up services, wherever possible, if equipment fails.
  • We will provide accurate and up to date guides and information.
  • We will provide displays, events and exhibitions that are accurate, stimulating and enjoyable.

Our service will be responsive

  • We aim to be as responsive to your needs as our resources permit.
  • We will respond to the comments we receive.
  • We will hold regular surveys and report back to you on the findings.
  • We will consult you on specific topics.
  • We will provide comments forms on our website and in all public areas.

Our service will be fair to everyone

  • We are committed to providing the same level of service to all users.
  • We will interview all applicants for Reader Passes fairly and equally in accordance with the Library's admissions policy.
  • We will try to meet the needs of those Readers who require further assistance to use catalogues, services or collections.
  • We will have regular training programmes for staff to increase their awareness of those issues important to Readers with disabilities.

Our targets


  • We aim to respond to all written enquiries within 10 days of receipt.

St Pancras Reading Rooms, London

  • We will process all applications for a Reader Pass within 20 minutes.
  • We will deliver 90% of collection items stored onsite within 70 minutes.
  • We will deliver 90% of collection items stored elsewhere in London within 3 hours (if ordered before 15.00 Monday to Friday).
  • We will process orders for up to 4 items by telephone and 6 items by fax, letter or email in advance of a visit (1 item can be ordered without a shelfmark).

Newspaper Reading Room, Colindale, North London

  • We will deliver 90% of collection items stored onsite within 60 minutes.
  • We will process 4 items per person with 48 hours notice of a visit.

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