Free Discovery and 1-2-1 sessions: 2020

A view of the King's Library

Due to the on-going international situation, the British Library building is currently closed.

We’re opening three Reading Rooms in St Pancras and our Reading Room in Boston Spa from 22 July as the first step of a phased reopening. Readers will need to pre-book desks and collection items. Find out more about returning to the Library to research here safely

We’re continuing to offer as many online services as we can so that the British Library remains open to everyone, wherever you are in the world.

 

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.

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

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.

Introduction to family history sources in Asian & African Studies

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

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 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 Humanities Reference Desk.

How to find and access Humanities 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 personal 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 the Newsroom

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.

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

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

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.

Early Newspapers

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.

Sound & Vision: finding and accessing recordings

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.

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.