Free Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions – 2017

Secondary ESOL

We offer a range of free Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions to help you make the most of your time researching here.

Published date:

Unless otherwise stated, our Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions are aimed at Registered Readers and usually held within our Reading Rooms, which are only accessible with a valid Reader Pass. If you wish to attend you should register with us for a Reader Pass.

Note also that 1-2-1 sessions are offered subject to staff availability.

Discovery sessions

We offer a range of engaging and informative Discovery sessions so you’re sure to find something that matches your interest. They typically last one hour each and we can accommodate up to 12 people per session.

An Introduction to Family History Sources in Asian & African Studies

21 November (12.00–13.30)

This informal workshop is aimed at new or inexperienced users of the collection. It will be of interest to anyone tracing European ancestors who were born, married or died in South Asia (including Burma but excluding Sri Lanka) before independence in 1947–1948. The session provides:

  • an introduction to the wealth of material in the India Office archives for family history
  • practical experience of searching the sources.

Note that this workshop is open to those without a valid British Library Reader Pass.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at or speak to a member of staff at the Asian & African Studies Reference Enquiries Desk.

Religious Studies resources in Humanities

16 and 30 November (16.00–17.00)

This session focuses on a variety of resources available from our collections on any of the major religions, beliefs and traditions of the world and new faiths, their origins, theological questions, sacred texts and their interpretation, taking into account different disciplines, such as history, sociology, philosophy, psychology. This interdisciplinary session can be further tailored as per your request and the subject of your own research.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at or speak to a member of staff at the Humanities Reference Enquiries Desk.

Introduction to Social Sciences

6 December (11.0012.00)

During this session a member of the Social Sciences Reference Team will provide an overview of how to search for and gain access to the our Social Sciences collections. This will cover information on how the Reading Rooms work, the resources we provide access to, how to access material for your research and the services we provide – both face-to-face in the Reading Rooms and also remotely. The session will also include a live demonstration of how to find and order items from our Explore the British Library catalogue.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at or speak to a member of staff at the Social Sciences Enquiry Desk.

Humanities printed and electronic resources on Women's and Gender Studies

23 November (16.0017.00)

This session is designed as an interdisciplinary session on gender across disciplines in all areas of life, including the role of women and gender in history, literature, religion, society, science and culture on a global historical, geographical and religious scale: equality, human rights, dignity and respect, dowry, FGM, religious diversity and women, sacred texts and feminism, minority groups, disability, race, class, power, femininity and masculinity, ethnicity, migration. We can tailor this session to meet you research needs.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at or speak to a member of staff at the Humanities Enquiry Desk.

News-related Electronic Resources

13 December (14.0015.00)

This session will cover the range of news related electronic resources available at the BL and how to access this material. 

The session will: 

  • promote awareness of newspaper electronic resources and the importance of newspaper e-resources for contemporary research 
  • highlight the various ways to access BL news eresources 
  • demonstrate key news eresources 
  • showcase the variety of news databases including facsimile and text only e-resources, and various news related bibliographies and indexes available at the BL. 
To find out more or to book a place, please email us at or speak to a member of staff at the Newsroom Reference Desk.

An introduction to collections of printed ephemera at the British Library

15 November (14.0015.00)

In addition to the material which we have received by Legal Deposit, we also hold many collections of ephemera. Material that was printed to fill a passing need and that was never intended to be preserved. Such collections, which include material such as posters, broadsides and playbills, can provide information about the past that may not have been captured in other sources.

This session will provide an introduction to some of the different collections of ephemera held at the Library and will focus on:

  • the Dawson Turner Collection of printed ephemera relating to life in nineteenth-century Great Yarmouth 
  • a collection of Victorian ephemera relating to the world of entertainment and everyday life created by the nineteenth century conjuror Henry Evans (Evanion)
  • the Library’s extensive collection of playbills published between 1733 and 1958. 
The session will explore some of the challenges associated with finding relevant material within collections of ephemera as well as some of the electronic resources that can help to make them more accessible. It is open to registered readers who would like to know more about our collections of printed ephemera. To find out more or to book a place, please email us at or speak to a member of staff at the Rare Books and Music Reference Enquiries Desk.

Introduction to the Newsroom

29 November (14.0015.00)

Introductory session aimed at Readers who are new to using the Newsroom. The presentation includes a demonstration of the Library's catalogue, Explore the British Library, with a hands-on element and will:

  • provide an overview of the scope and history of our news collections 
  • explain what digital news sources are available 
  • explain how to search for and order newspapers 
  • provide information on resources and services in the Reading Room. 
To find out more or to book a place, please email us at or speak to a member of staff at the Newsroom Reference Desk.


Would you like to register for a free 30 minute one-to-one consultation session with one of our Reference Enquiry specialists? We can show you how to get the most from our catalogues and resources and can use our expertise to direct you towards useful and hard to find material based on your research interests.

To find out more or to book a session, please contact the appropriate team.

To book a place, please provide us with the following information:

  • your general or specific area of research interest 
  • the level (personal interest, undergraduate, postgraduate, academic) of research you are undertaking and stage (planning, beginning, finishing) you have reached.

Note that these 1-2-1 sessions are for registered readers only.

Please also note that these sessions are to guide you in your research so we cannot answer very specific research queries or produce comprehensive bibliographies.

Asian and African Studies

India Office Papers, oriental language publications and oriental language manuscripts

Email: Ask the Asian and African Studies Reference Team

Business & IP Centre

For the full programme of workshops and events covering business information and intellectual property go to Business & IP Centre workshops.


Literature, Classics, History, Philosophy, Religion, Visual and Performing Arts, Library and Information Science

Email: Ask the Humanities Reference Team


Western language manuscripts, archives and papers, manuscript maps, pre-1500 music manuscripts, playscripts

Email: Ask the Manuscripts & Maps Reference Team


Printed maps, topographical drawings, globes

Email: Ask the Manuscripts & Maps Reference Team


Printed music scores, post-1500 manuscript music scores and papers relating to musicians

Email: Ask the Music Reference Team


Newspapers, broadcast media

Email: Ask the News Reference Team

Rare books

Pre-1851 printed material, incunabula, study of the book, printed and online resources for rare book material

Email: Ask the Rare Books Reference Team


Science, technology, medicine

Email: Ask the Science Reference Team

Social Science

Social science, law, management, official and government publications

Email: Ask the Social Science Reference Team

Sound & Vision

Spoken word, music, wildlife and moving image recordings

Email: Ask the Sound & Vision Reference Team