Free Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions: 2019

A view of the King's Library

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

Unless otherwise stated, our Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions are aimed at Registered Readers and usually held within our Reading Rooms, which are only accessible with a valid Reader Pass. If you wish to attend you should register with us for a Reader Pass.

Note also that 1-2-1 sessions are offered subject to staff availability.

Discovery sessions

We offer a range of engaging and informative Discovery sessions so you’re sure to find something that matches your interest. They typically last one hour each and we can accommodate up to 12 people per session.

Humanities electronic resources: how to find and access them

18 December (15.00 - 16.00)

The Library provides access to a huge range of electronic resources. This session is for you if:

  • you are keen to improve your digital and information search skills and techniques
  • you wish to expand your knowledge of electronic articles, journals, theses, books, databases etc. 

The session will clarify which eresources are:

  • only accessible online from the Reading Room PCs
  • available to British Library Reader Pass holders on a persoanl device
  • freely available to everybody everywhere.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Humanities Reference Desk.

Introduction to family history sources in Asian & African Studies

8 January (12.00 - 13.30); 18 February (12.00 - 13.30)

If you are trying to trace details of the births/baptisms, marriages and/or burials of Europeans who were born, married or died in South Asia (= including Burma, but excluding Sri Lanka) before independence in 1947/48, then this session should be of interest. Previous knowledge of the topic is neither expected nor required. The session includes a brief overview of the historical background together with practical advice in how to access the genealogical data held in the collection. Participants do not have to be registered Readers.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Asian & African Studies Reference Desk.

Beyond baptisms, marriages and burials: additional family history sources in Asian & African Studies

8 January (14.30 - 16.30); 18 February (14.30 - 16.30) 

This session provides information about the wealth of printed, online and visual material available to family history researchers in forms such as wills, photographs, biographical compilations, newspapers and directories. It is useful, but not necessary, to have attended the introductory family history session. Military ancestry is not covered, being the subject of a separate session.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Asian & African Studies Reference Desk.

Getting started with Rare Books at the British Library (1450-1800)

15 January (14.00 - 15.30); 18 March (10.30 - 12.00) 

This is an introductory session for  Readers who are new to accessing the Library's collection of western early-printed books. During the session we will:

  • tell you about the resources and services that are available in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room
  • advise you of the main online and printed catalogues for identifying early printed books held at the Library
  • show you how to search some of these catalogues and how to order books
  • outline some of the main electronic databases and reference sources that can help with researching early printed books.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Rare Books and Music Reference Desk.

Finding journals and articles

22 January (11.00 - 12.00) 

This session demonstrates how best to find journals and articles using:

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Asian & African Studies Reference Desk.

Introduction to the Newsroom

22 January (14.00 - 15.00); 27 February (14.00 - 15.00); 16 April (14.00 - 15.00)

This session will introduce the Newsroom and the new collections as well as provide basic guidance for researchers using the reading room. During the session we will:

  • provide an overview of the scope and history of our new collections
  • explain what digital news sources are available
  • explain how to search for and order newspapers
  • provide information on resources and services in the reading room.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Newsroom Reference Desk.

Sound & Vision: finding and accessing recordings

22 January (14.00 - 15.00); 12 March (14.00 - 15.00); 19 May (14.00 - 15.00)

Are you interested in non-print media? The British Library has over 6 million sound and moving image recordings including all genres of music, wildlife, drama, literature, oral history and archived radio broadcasts.  The recordings date from the late nineteenth century to the present day and can be accessed in our reading rooms, either digitally or via our Listening & Viewing Service.

This is an introductory session aimed at Readers who wish to find out more about our audiovisual collections and how to access them.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Humanities Reference Desk. 

Getting started with Rare Books at the British Library (19th century)

13 February (14.00 - 15.30); 29 April (10.30 - 12.00)

This introductory session is aimed at Readers who are new to accessing the Library's collection of 19th-century western printed books. During the session we will:

  • explain about the resources and services that are available in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room
  • discuss the main online and printed catalogues for identifying 19th-century printed books held at the Library
  • provide a demonstration of how to search some of these catalogues and order books
  • outline some of the main electronic databases and reference sources that can help with researching 19th century books and ephemera.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Rare Books and Music Reference Desk.

News-related electronic resources

13 February (14.00 - 15.00); 11 Mar (14.00 - 15.00); 7 May (14.00 - 15.00)

This session will cover the range of news related electronic resources available at the Library and how to access this material. The session will:

  • introduce you to newspaper electronic resources and importance of newspaper e-resources for contemporary research
  • highlight the various ways to access BL newspaper e-resources
  • demonstrate key newspaper e-resources
  • showcase the variety of newspaper databases including facsimile and text only e-resources, and various news related bibliographies and indexes available at the Library.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Newsroom Reference Desk.

Divining diversity: LGBTQ history in the British Library collections

27 February (18.30 - 19.30)

Evidence of sexual minorities and gender non-conforming identities are scattered throughout history. Understanding how archives have catalogued and articulated these identities in the objects they collect is essential to finding sources to inform your research. This 40 minutes discovery session will be led by Steven Dryden, Sound Archive and Humanities Reference Specialist, Editor of British Library LGBTQ Histories and co-curator of Gay UK: Love, Law and Liberty, the 2017 British Library exhibition which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Humanities Reference Desk. 

Early Newspapers

20 May (14.00 - 15.00)

This session will cover:

  • the development of newspapers from the early 17th century to the mid 19th century
  • the origins of the national and regional press in the UK
  • early newspaper collections at the British Library
  • searching for early newspapers in the British Library catalogue (Explore the British Library)
  • digitised early newspapers.

To find out more or to book a place, please email us at ReferenceServicesTraining@bl.uk or speak to a member of staff at the Newsroom Reference Desk.

1-2-1-sessions

Would you like to register for a free 30 minute one-to-one consultation session with one of our Reference Enquiry specialists? We can show you how to get the most from our catalogues and resources and can use our expertise to direct you towards useful and hard to find material based on your research interests.

To find out more or to book a session, please contact the appropriate team.

To book a place, please provide us with the following information:

  • your general or specific area of research interest
  • the level (personal interest, undergraduate, postgraduate, academic) of research you are undertaking and stage (planning, beginning, finishing) you have reached.

Note that these 1-2-1 sessions are for registered readers only.

Please also note that these sessions are to guide you in your research so we cannot answer very specific research queries or produce comprehensive bibliographies.

Collection guides

The King's Library

The collection of George III includes thousands of books and pamphlets

Scandinavian printed collections

One of the richest collections of books from the Scandinavian countries

Garrick Collection of English Plays

David Garrick's collection of 16th and 17th-century printed plays

Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin collection of books

Russian avant-garde collections

An extensive collection of avant-garde books of the early 20th century

Spanish printed collections

Includes 16,600 Spanish books published before 1801

French Revolutionary Tracts

50,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals printed in France between the 1780s and 1840s

French printed collections

Incunabula, books, journals, maps and music

Modern Greek printed collections

One of the world's finest collections of Greek and Cyprus imprints

Portuguese printed collections

Contemporary and antiquarian material, including 225 books published in Portugal before 1601

Italian printed collections

Our Italian collections cover all periods and a wide variety of subjects

Digitised printed books (18th-19th century)

Over 60,000 out-of-copyright digitised books from the 18th and 19th century available for viewing, search, download and digital research.

Dutch printed collections

Publications covering a wide range of subjects and periods from the Dutch-speaking territories

German printed collections

Early and modern material printed in the German-speaking countries

Thomason Tracts

A key source for the English Civil War in the mid-17th century