Spanning nearly 3,000 years, the British Library’s collection exceeds 150 million items representing every age of written civilisation. It includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages.

This site showcases just over 100 items from our collection, including some of the most fascinating and treasured objects in the world. From beautiful illuminated manuscripts like the Lindisfarne Gospels to the world’s earliest dated printed book and world-renowned items such as Magna Carta and Shakespeare’s First Folio, your introduction to the treasures of the British Library begins here.

Articles

Faith and religions

Faith and religions

Study magnificent hand-painted books and manuscripts from the many faiths and religions of the world.

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Illuminated manuscripts

Illuminated manuscripts

Wonder at these amazing hand-painted books of past ages and marvel at the vibrant colours used – these are works of art that were made for kings and queens, monasteries, bishops and counts.

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Science

Science

Explore the Library’s strong scientific holdings. These range from medieval times to the burgeoning developments in physics, chemistry and biology of the 18th and early 19th centuries. Our collections go right up to modern times and also include social science.

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Landmarks in printing

Printing landmarks

Did you know the Diamond Sutra, the world's earliest dated printed book, is in the British Library? Discover this and other landmarks of printing in the Library's collections.

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Maps and views

Maps and views

Delve into the mysterious world of maps and views and reflect on the founders’ curiosity about the universe.

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Collection items

Explore the many and varied collection items in the British Library.