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This is my first visit to your Reading Rooms, how ...?

How long will I have to wait for closed store items to arrive?
How do I know when my items have arrived?
Do I return items?
Can I reserve items I have ordered to view on the following day?
 

How do I see collection items?

Most printed items are held in store and have to be ordered to a Reading Room but each room has some stock on the ‘open access' shelves.

To order printed items held in store, use the Library's catalogue, Explore the British Library.

Delivery times are dependent on where the material is stored.

  • Choose a seat before you begin your search.
  • Remember to change the date required if you are not ordering for the current day. (Items, once arrived, will be kept for three working days.)
  • Enter your seat number, to enable staff to alert you once the items arrive. (Not relevant for readers in the Science or Social Science Reading Rooms.)

NB : Currently you may order up to 10 items per day.

Some collections cannot be ordered using Explore the British Library; these include:

  • Western Manuscripts
  • Some Maps
  • Patents
  • Official Publications
  • Material restricted on preservation grounds.

You can use the Library's other online catalogues, or card catalogues, to search for these items; and order these items on manual tickets. Reading Room Issue Desk staff will provide tickets and advise on procedure and delivery times.

NB: We have many online resources, including electronic resources and electronic journals, which are available on the computer terminals.

 

How long will I have to wait for closed store items to arrive?

Delivery times may vary. The ordering process provides information on normal delivery times during the ordering process, which are as follows:

Items stored onsite
Normal delivery time: 70 minutes
Notes: Items ordered after 16.00 should be delivered by 09.30 the next day.

Items stored offsite (Boston Spa, Yorkshire)
Normal delivery time: 48 or 48+ hours
Notes: Offsite material is not delivered on Saturdays.

Please consult the Delivery Enquiries Desk staff if you have waited longer.

 

How do I know when my items have arrived?

If you supply your seat number when you order items, your desk light will indicate when the items are ready for collection. Although in some cases, the reader call light may indicate that your request has been returned as unavailable. (Note that the Science, Social Science and Map Reading Rooms do not have desk lights, you should enquire about your items after the normal delivery time has elapsed.)

Go to the Issue Desk to collect the items you requested. You will be asked to:

  • Show your Reader Pass.
  • Give your name to the member of staff.
  • Supply a seat number when you collect your books, if you have not already indicated a seat number.

We issue items up to 15 minutes before closing time.

You may not remove collection items from the Reading Room in which they have been issued.

 

Where do I return items?

Return your items before closing time to the Issue Desk from which they were obtained; show staff your reader pass.

An announcement will be made 15 minutes before closing time but you may be asked to return some material early for special checking.

Do not carry too many items at one time to the issue desk. Please contact the Disability Support Officer if you have difficulty carrying items.

 

Can I reserve items I have ordered to view on the following day?

Space permitting, six items will be kept overnight in most Reading Rooms with the exception of Manuscripts where only four items may be reserved. These items will be kept for three days.

  • Return your items to the Issue Desk.
  • Show staff your reader pass.
  • Inform staff that you would like to reserve the material.

Do not carry too many books at one time to the issue desk. Please contact the Disability Support Officer if you have difficulty carrying items.

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