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Philatelic Collections: Research and Access for Researchers

All of the collections are available to researchers by appointment. It would be helpful to the curatorial staff and the researcher if an outline of the work being undertaken is given, so that the full range of material can be made available, including that not mentioned here. While it is advisable to give as much notice as possible when making an appointment, arrangements can sometimes be made at short notice by telephone. The Researcher's Room is available from 10.00 to 16.00 and appointments can be made for Monday to Friday (except public holidays). Researchers must hold a current British Library Reader Pass.

Philatelic Researcher's Room regulations

  • Admission to The Researcher's Room is granted subject to these regulations and failure to comply with them may result in suspension or withdrawal of admission. The supervising Curator may terminate any appointment at any time under these circumstances.
  • Researchers wishing to see material in the Philatelic Collections must hold a British Library Reader Pass and make an appointment with a member of the curatorial staff of the department. Reader Passes are issued by the Reader Registration Office. Philatelic material in the Philatelic Collections may only be seen in the Philatelic Collections Researcher’s Room. Non-philatelic material from the Philatelic Collections may be seen in other Reading Rooms to which these and other regulations apply.
  • The Researcher’s Room is available from 10.00 to 16.00 Monday to Friday (not Public Holidays). The room may be closed at certain times of the year. When attending for an appointment the Researcher should ask for the supervising Curator (by name), at the appointment time, at the Information Desk in the Entrance Hall, when he / she will be met and taken to the Researcher’s Room. Under normal circumstances only one Researcher may view philatelic material at any one time. In special circumstances more than one Researcher may see material with the advance agreement of the supervising Curator.
  • Researchers will be required to complete a form giving details of their name or title; address, telephone number(s), fax number(s), e-mail address (both in the United Kingdom and abroad, as appropriate); and Reader Pass number.
  • All Researchers will be supervised. All Philatelic Material, including all sheets or album pages, protectors, albums or bindings or boxes, etc, must be handled with care. At no time may any open album, book, etc have any object placed upon it. No sheet or album page with a protector may have its protector removed without permission. Permission for the closer examination of material must be sought.
  • Researchers must not eat, drink, smoke or chew gum, etc.
  • Pencils only may be used.
  • The use of any tweezers, magnifying glass, lamp of any description, ruler, perforation gauge, etc. will require approval.
  • Researchers must not write upon, damage or make marks upon any item, sheet, or album page nor binding etc. Tracing is not allowed.
  • Compact cameras, tablets and camera phones may be used to photograph some items, with permission from the supervising curator. No portable scanners or other copying devices may be used.
  • No philatelic material, book, manuscript or other property of the British Library Board or items in its care, may be taken out of the Researcher’s Room.
  • Researchers may bring philatelic material for comparison, on the condition that this is made known to the supervising Curator at the commencement of the appointment and his or her approval is given for such comparison. This approval may be withdrawn at any time.
  • These regulations also apply to non-philatelic material from the Philatelic Collections which may be studied, by appointment, in other British Library Reading Rooms.

Philatelic literature

The Library holds a major collection of philatelic literature covering every discipline of the subject, and this numbers over 30,000 volumes. Included in this holding is the Crawford Library. All philatelic literature is available to researchers in the Reading Rooms. A Reader Pass is required.