Using the British Library

Using the British Library if you are a teacher or student

The British Library is the UK’s national library and one of the world’s leading research libraries. Our collection of around 170 million items includes some of the most iconic treasures from a variety of cultures and includes books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, patents and sound recordings.

Everyone is welcome to visit our exhibition galleries and public spaces however to use the Reading Rooms, at St Pancras, you will need to register for a Reader Pass.

Getting a Reader Pass

Teachers and students over 18:

If you are a teacher or a student over 18, further information regarding registering for a Reader Pass can be found here.

Students under 18:

We do not normally issue a Reader Pass to anyone under the age of 18, although we occasionally make an exception to see specific items which are unavailable in other libraries.

We cannot admit anyone aged 11 or under to the Reading Rooms. As an under-18 student, you may find your school or public library better equipped to serve your needs.

Apart from some reference materials on the shelves, you can't browse in the British Library’s Reading Rooms to see what you want. Instead readers search the online catalogue then order their items from storage and wait to collect them. This will take a minimum of 70 minutes or over two days for material stored off site.

The Reading Rooms are for individual study and groups of students can't talk together in the Reading Rooms, nor can items be removed from the Reading Rooms as this is a reference library - items have to be looked at onsite.

To apply for a Reader Pass, you will need to provide a list of the titles and shelf marks of each book you require as well as a list of other libraries from which you have tried to get the material. The shelf mark is available from the British Library’s catalogue.

Any item in the catalogue which has DSC (documents supply collection) in the shelf mark is available via public libraries through the inter-library loan service. Your local librarian will be able to help you with this if you provide the details of the items you require.

Find out more

Workshops and Online Resources

We provide a range of opportunities for teachers and students to engage with the British Library’s collection:

If you are a teacher and would like to visit the British Library with your students, we suggest booking one of our free workshops. Research Matters and Digital Pathways are workshops which develop research skills. We also offer conferences and projects.

You can find a wealth of digitised collection material, interactives and resources on the Learning website to help you with your research.