Click here to skip to content

Using the reading rooms video transcript

Here’s a quick guide to getting started in the Reading Rooms.

The British Library is home to some of the rarest and most valuable materials from history and they’re not hidden behind glass cases, but available for you to use.

Many are priceless and irreplaceable so we’re a little strict and have certain rules and regulations that you might not expect in a normal library.

You can access our collections through the Reading Rooms. There is more than one; each is linked to a subject or type of material and in them you’ll find staff who are experts in that field.

They’re there to help you navigate and get the most out of the Library’s facilities.

oh and answer any questions too..

So.. how do you get inside...

Firstly, you need a Reader Pass, please show it at the security desk as you enter a Reading Room.

We don’t allow large bags into the reading rooms, so nothing bigger than a laptop case. You can leave it downstairs in the lockers or cloakroom, along with your coat.

You can’t bring pens into the Reading Room; bring a pencil if you want to make notes and to prevent accidents, please no food or drinks.

The Reading Rooms are for quiet working, so please help people to concentrate by putting your mobile phone and computer on silent mode and keeping the volume down if you’re using headphones. If you need to talk, please do so quietly or pop outside.

Take great care of the collections and obviously do not mark them in any way… it’s our job to preserve them for the future. You are responsible for the items loaned to you and remember that nothing must be removed from the Reading Rooms or lent to another person.

There are computers to view our electronic collections and search our catalogues. You can use your laptop to work or make notes, and there’s free wifi.

You can copy some items using the library’s photocopiers, but please respect copyright laws… if in doubt, ask. 

We hope you understand our need for a few rules. With your help we’ll successfully preserve our wonderful collections for future generations.