The British Library’s collection includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, photographs, newspapers and sound. Many of our digital collections provide material for free online. Please come to our Reading Rooms to access material that isn’t available online.

Read our subject guides to find out more about our core research areas.


Explore the British Library

Our main catalogue is a great place to start as it contains the majority of the Library's collection of books, journals, newspapers, maps, scores, sound recordings and more.

Explore Archives & Manuscripts

Use our catalogue to find details of the Library’s unique collection items including manuscripts, unpublished documents and family and estate papers.

Sound & Moving Image Catalogue

Our sound collection contains over 6.5 million recordings in all genres, from pop, jazz, and classical to wildlife, interviews, drama and language.

British National Bibliography

This catalogue lists the books and new journal titles published or distributed in the United Kingdom and Ireland since 1950.

All catalogues

Digital collections

Our digital collections contain a wide range of material you can access online. Please note that some collections are only available on site at the British Library.

Digitised manuscripts

View digitised copies of selected manuscripts and archives including Beowulf and Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook.

Sounds Online

Over 95,000 selected sound recordings from the Library’s extensive collection of music, spoken word and nature.


Browse our online record of all doctoral theses awarded by UK HE institutions. Free access to around 160,000 full text thesis.

In-Library access or subscription Why is this?
Image from the British Newspaper Archive

British Newspaper Archive

Over 40 million searchable pages, from more than 1,000 newspaper titles from UK and Ireland.

Subject guides

These subject guides will help you to research selected subjects.

Visual arts

Our visual arts collections include paintings, drawings, prints and photographs.

Printed books

Our vast collection of printed heritage encompasses materials from Britain, Europe and the wider world.

Manuscripts and archives

A rich, global resource encompassing ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary manuscript and archive material.

Digital scholarship

Undertake innovative research with our digital collections and data.

Collection guides

Science electronic resources

We subscribe to many electronic resources and bibliographic databases that you can search and browse.

African newspapers

Our collections of historical newspapers published in Africa, are available in both European and African languages.

Cartographical collections

We hold important travel collections and views from around the world.

Oral history

Explore one of the largest collections of oral history and life story interviews in the world.

Online Gallery

Virtual books

Use our award-winning Turning the Pages software to leaf through our great books and magnify the details.

Asia, Pacific & Africa Collections

This survey of the landscape and architectural heritage of South Asia spans the late-18th to mid-20th centuries.

The Unveiling of Britain

This selection of maps and views traces the growing awareness of the form of British Isles and their place in the wider world from 800 to 1600.

Philatelic rarities

Rare and special items from the world's largest and most diverse philatelic collections.

Related content


Discover some of the British Library's amazing projects.

Conservation and treatment

Our conservators specialise in a variety of book- and paper-based disciplines.

Digital preservation

The British Library collects and preserves digital material so that it can be used by future researchers.


Our blogs are written by our curators and subject experts.