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Culture, communications and media

This page explains what the subjects of culture, communication and media studies covers, gives an overview of the material the British Library holds for this subject, and advice on how you can find and use it. It also gives details of current activities for developing the collections for this subject.

You can also download our one-page guide to the Library's Media, Culture and Communication collections [pdf 221.06 KB.

Covers communication, cultural theory, journalism, film studies, print and new media, broadcasting, and the social aspects of information and communication technologies. For information and advice about the technological aspects of the subject, please see our Science pages, and for business data relating to the communications industry our Business & Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC) pages. The theory and practice of communication as a business activity, including internal communication and Public Relations, is covered in Management & Business Studies.

Collection overview

The sociological impact of the revolution in communications technology and the expansion of often unregulated media via the internet has placed the interaction between culture, communication and media firmly at the forefront of research interest. The British Library's legal deposit collections provide an enormous amount of what is in effect primary source material exemplifying the development of all kinds of media in the British Isles and the Commonwealth, as well as elsewhere in the world. These range from printed books to a comprehensive collection of UK and regional newspapers in the Newspaper Library and the enormous social and cultural resources of the Sound Archive. The collection is strong in scholarly monographs and journals on communications and media both from the English-speaking world and in foreign languages, and a range of relevant electronic resources are available to assist you in your research, including Communications Abstracts online. The Library is also currently archiving UK websites and these will eventually become available for study through the UK Web Archiving Consortium.

A certain amount of printed material is kept offsite and has to be ordered in advance of your visit; or ordered via our Document Supply Service; however, there is a selection of current material available on the open shelves in the London Social Sciences Reading Room, including such resources as Cultural Trends. Latest issues of journals such as Global Media & Communication are also available on open access.

Overall we have:

  • a comprehensive collection of UK material acquired through legal deposit, including report literature, working papers and conference papers with strong English-language collections from other countries, as well as good collections of foreign language material
  • extensive journals coverage, with many full text e-journals plus indexing and abstracting databases to help you find articles
  • extensive newspaper collections, print and online
  • a growing collection of electronic resources and useful websites. We also archive relevant websites as part of the UK Web Archiving Consortium
  • a wide range of recordings in the Sound Archive.

Finding aids

  • Explore the British Library to find details of books, reports, journal titles, newspapers, maps and many more parts of the Library‚Äôs collections.

Social Sciences Enquiry team

For more help on using the Social Sciences collections, contact the Enquiry team at or telephone +44 (0)20 7412 7894 from 10.00 - 20.00 Mon- Thurs or 10.00 - 17.00 Friday.