People use the British Library for a variety of purposes - and we always have to be ready to help them. This covers everything from getting a book to a Reader at St Pancras as quickly as possible, to ensuring that researchers and academics around the world have access to the resources they need through our website.
Whether you're a regular visitor to one of our Reading Rooms, you access our collections via the internet, or you've never contacted us before, you'll find there's more to the Library than you thought. On this page you can find out more about what we do.
What's your British Library?
The British Library is different things to different people. Choose the word or words that represent the Library for you. And discover what it means to us.
literature - as well as being home to literature from around the world, the British Library also allows you to adopt a book in the collections for a small donation.
databases - our use of advanced technology and huge databases enables the British Library to make over 14 million items available through our online catalogue.
Mozart - the manuscript of Mozart's musical diary is one of the British Library's treasures available on our main website. It's his record of the works he wrote in the last seven years of his life.
huge - we add 3 million new items to our collections every year.
world-beating - the British Library is recognised as a global leader in sound archiving and book conservation, so we train people from museums and libraries all over the world.
supportive - from our Wellbeing Programme and a range of family-friendly benefits to personal development programmes, we aim to support all our staff.
technology - our new automated facility at Boston Spa incorporates state-of-the art, low oxygen storage.
historic - the oldest items in our collections are Chinese oracle bones that are over 3,000 years old.
innovative - our Turning the Pages™ software won the Best Web-based Technology Project award from the British Computer Society in 2007.
music - from 19th century wax cylinders to the latest MDs, our sound archive is a historic record of music from around the world.
periodicals - we have over 52,000 newspapers and periodicals available through our online catalogue.
amazing - the Library is home to an amazing 150 million items.
research - a specific section of our website enables researchers from around the world to find out how we can help them.
reading - Over 450,000 Readers visit our Reading Rooms at St Pancras and Boston Spa every year.
documents - we deliver over 8 million documents to customers around the world every year.
passion - we're passionate about giving people the knowledge they need to do great things. Including our own staff.
interviews - our sound archive includes recordings of interviews with many famous people - including a rare recording of Florence Nightingale, interviewed in 1890.
stamps - the Library is home to eight million stamps and other philatelic items, including the Tapling Collection, the greatest permanent collection of rare stamps in the world.
inventive - our Business & IP Centre offers inventors advice on areas such as Intellectual Property. There's even an e-course on intellectual property on our website.
blogs - many of our curators and experts post blogs online about different aspects of our collections and services.
photographs - many of the photos of celebrities in our collections can be viewed on our website - from Lenin to Sir David Attenborough.
business-like - we hold networking events at our Business & IP Centre for budding entrepreneurs that feature business icons such as Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou.
advanced - our digitisation projects are making our collections accessible online to millions more people around the world. So far, we've digitised well over 10 million pages.
British - we may be the British Library, but we hold collections from every corner of the world. In fact, our collections cover virtually every known language.
training - our training and development programmes are designed to help you enjoy your work, while developing the skills you need to deliver great service to our customers.
knowledge - our aim is to bring the world's knowledge to as many people as possible, for now and the future.
thrash metal - the Library's sound archive has one of the largest collections of thrash metal music in the country.
popular - our online catalogue generates over 25 million searches every year.
Leonardo - one of the treasures in the British Library is Leonardo Da Vinci's notebook, which you can view on our website.
delivery - from award-winning technology to amazing exhibitions, we deliver the world's knowledge to people across the globe.
mind-blowing -If you viewed 10 items a day from our collections, it would take you over 40,000 years to see them all.
development - we don't just care for our collections; we care for our people too. Our training and development programmes give our staff opportunities for personal or professional development.
collections - from 3,000 year old artefacts to 58 million patents, our collections cover every aspect of human communication.
silence - with room for 1,200 Readers, extensive Wi-Fi facilities and over 2,000 staff, the Library's a hive of activity. So you'll never hear anyone say ‘Shhhh'.
collaborative - many of our biggest projects have been successes because they've involved many different Library departments pulling together. It's one of the things we do best.
art - from the 17th century Ramayana to Surrealist and Dadaist masterpieces, we've made some unique art treasures available online.
publishing - British Library Publishing publishes around 50 books and audio CDs a year, ranging from facsimiles of classic novels to CDs of bird calls.
wellbeing - we look after our staff with a range of benefits designed to help their health and happiness.
academic - many of our copyright protected items are available through academic institutions, which can access them online.
trains - we offer our people a range of benefits, including interest-free season ticket loans.
Wonderland - one of the treasures available on our main website is Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures Under Ground - the original version of Alice in Wonderland.
online - our main website has over 10,000 pages and over 25 million searches are generated by our online catalogue every year.
ancient - many of our valuable historic treasures can be viewed by more people than ever before thanks to advanced scanning and online technologies.
global - by using advanced technologies we make the world's knowledge available to the world's business people, researchers, scientists, academics and authors.
exhibitions - we organise and run major exhibitions every year at our main sites, as well as taking many on the road to different regions in the UK.
news - Our 19th century British Newspapers website means that you can access over two million pages from historic newspapers online.
scanning - we're digitising more of our collections all the time - scanning books at a rate of 75,000 pages every day.
inspiring - by providing more access to our collections through a variety of technologies, we provide inspiration for researchers, business people, academics, scientists and entrepreneurs around the world.
communication - our Marketing and PR teams ensure that when we've got something great on show, everybody knows about it.
shelves - we need 625km of shelving to store all our collections - not to mention an additional 12km each year.
speeches - our sound archive includes speeches from major historical figures - from Nelson Mandela's trial speech in the 1960s to interviews with Nobel Prize winners.
society - our website includes a section dedicated to research and reports on all aspects of welfare reform.
serials - we subscribe to over 60,000 current serials around the world and hold over 250,000 historic serials, from AA Guides to Zoological Journals.
successes - Our Business & IP Centre helps entrepreneurs to launch highly successful businesses. Many have won UK business awards.
podcasts - our curators are passionate about our collections. And they share that passion through podcasts available on our main website.
manuscripts - our Sacred exhibition in 2007 showcased the greatest collection of Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy books and manuscripts.
future - we're always looking for new ways to make our historic collections available to more people by using the most advanced technologies.
catalogues - Explore the British Library provides online access to everything from medieval illuminated manuscripts to the archives of the Soviet Communist Party.
electronic - we're breathing fresh life into some of our oldest treasures by making them available in electronic formats. This preserves the originals, but allows many more people to enjoy them.
science - our science team works with scientists and researchers to help them get the most from our world-class collections of over 20,000 journal titles, and many thousands of books and documents.
maps - the British Library is home to the world's greatest map collection, with many of the rarest examples available online.
visionary - with leading-edge innovations in areas ranging from conservation to digitisation, we're re-defining what a library should be in the 21st century.