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Frequently asked questions

When is the Business & IP Centre open?

What can I do in the Centre?

How can I book a place on a workshop?

How can I use the Business & IP Centre resources?

Can I use my laptop in the Business & IP Centre?

Can I access my email?

What’s on the shelves?

How do I find things on the shelves?

Do you have magazines and newspapers?

Can I photocopy, save or download information?

Why are there limits to my downloading?

Can I access any of this from home?

How can I find information on starting and running a business?

What’s intellectual property all about?

How can I find information on companies?

How can I find market research information?

How can I find the latest news on products, companies and markets?

How can I find academic books and journals?

How can I find company annual reports?

How can I find trade literature?

When is the Business & IP Centre open? 

We are open from:
10:00 – 20:00 Monday
09:30 – 20:00 Tuesday to Thursday
09:30 – 17:00 Friday to Saturday

What can I do in the Centre? 

  • Free business and intellectual property databases and publications
  • One-to-one advice sessions
  • Workshops and events


If you’re not sure where to start, just contact us at bipc@bl.uk

How can I book a place on a workshop? 

You can book online. Visit our events calendar to view our full list of workshops and events.

How can I use the Business & IP Centre resources? 

To use the databases and publications you will need a Reader Pass. Anyone can use the Centre, and it is free.

Can I use my laptop in the Business & IP Centre? 

You are welcome to use your laptop and there are power sockets on some of the desks and free wi-fi.

Can I access my email? 

You can only access email through your own laptop via our free wifi service. The internet is freely available on our terminals but email is blocked.

What’s on the shelves? 

Many of our popular market research reports are on the shelves, such as Mintel. You can also find directories for company and industry contacts and a small business help section with lots of useful ‘how to’ guides.

How do I find things on the shelves? 

Explore the British Library is a finding tool that will tell you where you can locate things on the shelves. When you’ve found the report you’re looking for, make a note of the location number (e.g. 381.1) and publisher if it’s a market report.

Do you have magazines and newspapers? 

Yes, this week’s papers are available on the shelves, including well known business titles such as ‘The Economist’.

Can I photocopy, save or download information? 

Yes, but it varies and depends on the provider of the information. You will not be able to download content yourself. Staff will download for you at the enquiry desk. You should make a note of what precisely you need to save. On the list of databases, you will see a link for ‘download allowance’. Click on this, and the page will list the limits. You can photocopy from most publications, but the Library has agreed limits with some market research publishers.

Why are there limits to my downloading? 

All online databases are subscription only and are of high commercial value. The publishers of this information ask that we limit how much content people can take away for free. This is to protect their commercial interest and copyright.

Can I access any of this from home? 

No. Due to licensing agreements, the information can only be accessed from the British Library.

How can I find information on starting and running a business? 

We subscribe to a number of electronic databases providing relevant information.  The Centre also holds a small collection of handy books.  You can also view our Information sources for starting up in business guide (pdf).

What’s intellectual property all about? 

All businesses should think hard about their IP (intellectual property) as it’s a way of protecting things like an invention or a brand from being stolen. 

There are four types of IP: patents, trade marks, designs and copyright. You can find out more about intellectual property by attending one of our workshops in the Centre, or completing one of our free e-courses.

How can I find information on companies? 

The Business & IP Centre subscribes to several online databases providing access to up-to-date information on millions of companies from around the world. When you visit, you can download information from some of these databases, so remember to bring a USB memory stick with you. 

The Centre also holds over 1,200 current country and industry directories.

How can I find market research information? 

We have the largest collection of UK and overseas market research reports in the country. You can search our business information using Explore the British Library, browse our industry guides or contact us for advice on finding information on your market. 

Our printed collection includes reports from many publishers including Key Note, Mintel and Verdict. We subscribe to some online databases of market research such as Frost and Sullivan, Euromonitor and E-marketer.

How can I find the latest news on products, companies and markets? 

We subscribe to several business news and journal databases. These are updated daily but also go back many years, and you can search for any word in any article. We also hold many current industry journals in the Centre and the Science reading rooms.

How can I find academic books and journals? 

You can search the catalogues using Explore the British Library to find and order hard copy, academic books and journals.

How can I find company annual reports? 

The Business & IP Centre has annual reports for over 2,000 UK and overseas companies. Current reports are available on the shelves but older copies are in storage and will need to be ordered a day in advance.

How can I find trade literature? 

You can search for material from the mid-1980s using the Explore the British Library. If you are looking for material on a particular subject or company, you should contact us and we will check for you. Trade Literature can also be found in Explore the British Library. Some 19th-century trade literature is also included in the Evanion Collection.

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Contact us

Business & IP Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7901
Email: Reference Team

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