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Preservation policy and restrictions

Because the light and handling can be harmful, we restrict the direct photocopying service to well-preserved standard-sized printed books in our main collections published since 1851.

Double page copying is prohibited as it can cause damage to the spine of books.

For preservation reasons, the following material is not suitable for self-service copying:

  • Items published before 1851; some other rare material; printed and manuscript music; Oriental manuscripts; Illuminated manuscripts; public records
  • Items larger than A4
  • Any material that weighs 9lbs (4kg) or more
  • Items too tightly bound, vellum or fine bindings
  • Items in a damaged condition - brittle paper, cracked spine, loose pages and covers
  • All foldouts
  • Photographs

There are also special restrictions on copying some of the Business material. Clients of the Business & IP Centre should consult with the Reference Enquiry Desk.

If a book you wish to copy is refused for self-service copying, it is often permissible for our staff to copy it on specialised 'face up' digital copiers. Alternatively, we will help you find out whether another edition of the book is available, or if it has been previously microfilmed.

If you need help to find out whether or not your required item is available on microfilm, please contact:

Register of Preservation Microforms
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
England

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7629

E-mail: RPM@bl.uk