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Manuscripts services

The British Library Manuscripts Reading Room supports research in to the collections by providing a reference enquiry point to help readers identify and interpret appropriate catalogues and finding aids. Curators are also normally available to help with more detailed enquiries and to provide limited help in interpreting the collections.

The Great Seal of England

The Great Seal of England, 1651, showing the House of Commons (detail), Seal xxxiv.17. Copyright © The British Library Board


The Manuscripts Online Catalogue, meanwhile, brings the department's catalogues including descriptions of its manuscripts to remote users, and acts as an important supplement to the Library's active publication schedule.

The Manuscripts Department is pleased to answer routine postal, fax or e-mail enquiries that are specifically about the collections. However, it is not possible to offer general research advice, or to undertake lengthy research . If an enquiry is likely to take more than 30 minutes a professional researcher will be recommended.