Spanish printed collections

Cervantes, Don Quixote de la Mancha
From Cervantes, Don Quixote de la Mancha (Valencia:Pedro Patricio Mey, 1605). Shelfmark: Cerv. 22.

We have around 16,600 Spanish books published before 1801 and acquire both contemporary and antiquarian material.

About the collection

Publications of all dates in Spanish, Portuguese, Basque and Catalan, Galician on all subjects in the humanities and social sciences are represented. All secondary material is at research level, while primary material, including works of literature, is itself envisaged as the subject of research.

Early modern literature is particularly well represented, such as:

  • the Ashbee collection of editions of Miguel de Cervantes
  • the collection of John Rutter Chorley of Spanish drama and poetry and books on Spanish drama
  • collections of Spanish, Catalan and Portuguese chapbooks
  • the most complete set of the parts of Amadís de Gaula in existence.

What is available online?

Increasing numbers of Spanish and Portuguese books are being added to Google books.

The Cambridge Digital Library includes our Spanish chapbooks.

What is available in our Reading Rooms?

The British Library's online catalogue, Explore the British Library, can be used to search for Spanish printed material and order it to a Reading Room.

Most post-1850 Spanish printed books and periodicals can be ordered to any of our Reading Rooms, usually within 70 minutes, although an increasing amount of material is held at our Boston Spa site in Yorkshire and may take up to two days to arrive.

Pre-1850 material can be consulted in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room, while newspapers, maps and manuscripts are available in their own respective Reading Rooms. All the reading rooms have some reference works on open shelves, including bibliographies, catalogues, dictionaries and general reference works.

A large number of electronic resources are also available through the Reading Room PCs. Staff are available to offer bibliographic and other basic research assistance.

How to guides

Guide to researching provenance of books now in the British Library

Where do the British Library’s old printed books ‘come from'? Who owned or read them in centuries past? Why does it matter?

What collection items can I view online?

You can see books, manuscripts, maps, playbills, scores and much more. Researchers can use our collection of electronic resources and databases to help them find material relevant to their research.

Can I take photographs of British Library material myself?

You can take photos of our collection items yourself in British Library Reading Rooms

Breaches of British Library Reading Room Conditions of Use

These guidelines outline the British Library’s policies and procedures with regard to breaches of its Reading Room Conditions of Use. They are to ensure consistency in the actions taken in response to such breaches and to define the appropriate roles and responsibilities in the process.

Electronic resources

We collect thousands of electronic journals, books and websites and hundreds of databases. You need to come to the Library to access the majority of these resources.

Terms of use for Google Books

This page states the terms and conditions surrounding the British Library’s out of copyright books which have been digitised by Google.

Guide to the British National Bibliography

A guide to help you use the British National Bibliography catalogue, covering: login, search, and how to manage your results

Can I copy material in the Reading Rooms?

What you need to know about copying British Library collections in our Reading Rooms

How to handle books

See the techniques you should use to keep our books in good shape.

Using gloves with books and manuscripts

Should you wear gloves? Here's some advice to help you decide.

How to handle rolled items

We show how you should unroll items like scrolls, rolls and maps.

Free Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions: 2019

We offer a range of free Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions to help you make the most of your time researching here.

Guide to Explore the British Library

A guide to help you use the catalogue, covering: login, search, how to manage your results, how to order/view items

How to request items not in the catalogue

You can use 'Request Other Items' to order items which have no record in Explore the British Library. Also to order most items found in Expore Archives and Manuscripts.

Get a Reader Pass

Access over 170 million collection items for free with a Reader Pass.

Search for resources in microforms

How to search for resources in microforms

How to handle folded items

Find out how you should hand items like large maps and book inserts.

Using the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)

How to use the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC)