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Cookie policy

To find out more about what we do with your information, see our Privacy Statement.


All changes to this cookie policy will be posted to this page of our website. Please bookmark this page and return to it to check for any changes.

This policy was last updated on 10 July 2012.


What are cookies?

The cookies used by British Library websites do not contain any of your personal information, and we cannot use them to find out who you are.

Cookies are small text files that websites save to your computer. They often include a randomly generated number which is stored on your device. Many cookies are automatically deleted after you finish using the website.

Cookies are commonly used to improve browsing experience; measure website performance; support the delivery of services and support sharing information through social media, such as Twitter or Facebook.

Unless you have adjusted your browser settings to refuse cookies, our systems will issue cookies as soon you visit our websites or access other services. If you have switched off cookies then some of the functionality of our services may not be available to you.

The cookies that we use on our websites only collect anonymous information they do not collect personal information.

How does the British Library use cookies?

Our websites use cookies to make our website easier for you to use and improve your overall experience when accessing our online service. Using cookies to distinguish you from other users means that we can store your preferences, provide increased functionality and deliver better value for money.

Here are some examples of how we use cookies:

  • Improving your experience and supporting the delivery of our services: To ensure that you don't have to repeat some actions unnecessarily and to make transactions as smooth as possible, we use cookies to remember that you are logged in; record items placed in shopping baskets; and to remember search terms and search results.

  • Measuring website performance: our websites must demonstrate value for money in the delivery of information and services. Cookies support the monitoring by helping web teams to work out which pages are most useful to people, and to improve pages that people aren't finding useful. We also use cookies in order to monitor visitor numbers. No personally identifiable information such as your name or address is collected as part of this process.

What cookies are on British Library websites?

We have audited our cookies and produced a list of the cookies we use which describes, categorises and explains which sites use them:

List of cookies we use - PDF format 72.58 KB

There are two types of cookies: ‘session cookies’ and ‘persistent cookies’

Session cookies  only last for the duration of a website visit. Your web browser normally deletes session cookies when it quits.

Persistent cookies outlast a session and will normally have an expiry date.

Essential (also known as ‘strictly necessary’) cookies

These cookies are essential for you to be able to move around some of our websites and use their features, such as accessing secure areas, for example, ‘My book requests’ and Document Supply accounts. Without these cookies, services you have asked for, like shopping baskets, previous searches and results cannot be provided.

Here is a list of Essential Cookies used on British Library websites:

List of essential cookies we use - PDF format 14.68 KB

Performance cookies

These cookies collect information about how visitors use a website, for instance which pages visitors go to most often, and if they get error messages from web pages. These cookies don’t collect information that identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. It is only used to improve how a website works.

Here is a list of Performance Cookies used on British Library websites:

List of performance cookies we use - PDF format 25.64 KB

The British Library’s main tool for collecting performance information is comScore Digital Analytix. comScore provide further information about their cookies and a method of opting out of receiving them here.

Functionality cookies

These cookies allow the website to remember choices you make such as your user name, and provide enhanced customised features such as the Management and Business Studies Portal. These cookies can be used to remember changes you make to text size, fonts and other parts of web pages that you can customise or to provide services you have asked for, such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. In our Online Shop these cookies help us to provide customer service, including contacting customers who have not checked out to follow up on abandoned shopping carts or to see if there was a problem with their use of the site. Information stored by functionality cookies is anonymised and cannot be used to track your browsing activity on other websites.

Here is a list of Functionality Cookies used on British Library websites:

List of functionality cookies we use - PDF format 11.26 KB

Where can I find more about cookies and how to turn-off or delete them?

Find out more about cookies at including information on how to control and delete them in all the major web browsers.

You can block cookies by activating the setting on your browser that allows you to refuse all or some cookies. However, if you use your browser settings to block all cookies (including essential cookies) you may not be able to access parts of our sites, or you may experience reduced functionality when accessing certain services. Unless you have adjusted your browser setting so that it will refuse cookies, our system will issue cookies as soon you visit our website.

For information about deleting cookies from the browser on your mobile phone, refer to your handset manual.

Contact us

If you have any questions about this policy or the Library’s use of cookies, please contact us by email to

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