Most of our items are held in store, rather than on open access, and you have to request them to view in our Reading Rooms.
You can order items when you are in our Reading Rooms, or in advance of a visit either online or by contacting us. We recommend that you order in advance so you will be able to make best use of your time here.
- Use Explore the British Library to request most items; online help is available.
- Use Search our Catalogue Archives & Manuscripts to request archival and manuscript material; online help is available.
- Or contact us to order items in advance on your behalf.
You can track the status of your requests with My Reading Room Requests.
Some collection items have to be requested on manual tickets; these include some Maps, Patents and Official Publications and certain highly restricted and fragile items.
Some Western Manuscripts collection items, including most illuminated manuscripts, are not normally made available without a written letter of introduction or recommendation.