Click here to skip to content


This page explains what the subject sport 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.

Covers all aspects of sport and sports theory, including: individual sporting activities, economics of sport; sports policy; sports statistics; psychology, philosophy and sociology of sport; and the social history of sport. For information and advice about the physiological aspects of sport, please see our Science pages, and for business data relating to the sports industry please see our Business & Intellectual Property Centre (BIPC) pages.

Collection overview

Material relating to sport has increasingly become the focus of research interest, particularly in the light of the Government's health and fitness initiatives and the awarding to London of the 2012 Olympics. The British Library is well placed to answer these needs, as its collection includes an extremely wide range of sports-related publications, from secondary source material such as books and periodicals on every aspect of the subject to oral history resources and even early manuscript material on archery. The collection is particularly strong in sports periodicals, with archive collections of annuals such as Wisden Cricketer's Almanac, (held from1864 onwards) and modern monthlies like Runner's World and Hockey Sport. These are supplemented by the daily, weekly and fortnightly sports publications formerly held at the British Library's Newspaper Library at Colindale and now available at St Pancras. Football fans in particular should note the Library's growing collection of fanzines, the Football Fanzine Collection being the world's greatest, while athletics, cricket and rugby interests are served by our own published bibliographies on these subjects.

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 statistical material available on the open shelves in the London Social Sciences Reading Room, including leisure and recreation statistics and more general sources such as Cultural Trends. Latest issues of journals such as Sport in Society and The Journal of Leisure Research are also available on open access in the Social Sciences Reading Room.

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 a growing collection of 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
  • oral histories 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's 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.

Current activities 












































































































Sport and society: the summer Olympics through the lens of social science. Our website uses the theme of the Olympic Games as a platform to explore the wealth of the collections at the Library, and to demonstrate the diversity of research across the social sciences. If you are writing about the games, or are interested in the study of major sporting events, we encourage you to visit our website to find out more and get involved. 

British Library Content Strategy

We have refined our Content Strategy (i.e what we collect now and in future). Please see the content strategy pages on our website. These pages are organised by subject. Please remember that different aspects of a research theme may be described under more than one subject. A subject will also cover a variety of research themes, so even though your topic may not be specifically listed, it will likely be found under one of our headings.

If you have comments on the Library's content strategy, we would be pleased to hear from you.