What collection items can I view online?

The Kings Library inside the British Library
The Kings Library inside the British Library

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.

Published date:

About the collection

Items you can view online include, but are not limited to:  books, manuscripts, maps, scores, journals, research datasets, thesis and databases (indexing, abstracting and full text databases).

Records for all of this content can be found in one of the Library's main catalogues: Explore the British Library or Explore Archives and Manuscripts

We are regularly making more content freely available online, often in partnership with other organisations, but some content is restricted by copyright, or licence, to Reader Pass holders.

What can I see online?

Items freely available online include:

What can I see in the Library's Readings Rooms?

Reader Pass holders can, additionally, access content restricted by copyright or licence. This includes:

Most titles can be accessed from any Reading Room computer but a small number can only be used on specific workstations.

Readers can also use some subscribed electronic resources remotely.

Collection guides

The King's Library

The collection of George III includes thousands of books and pamphlets

Philip Larkin

Philip Larkin collection of books

Modern Greek printed collections

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

French printed collections

Incunabula, books, journals, maps and music

Italian printed collections

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

Russian avant-garde collections

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

French Revolutionary Tracts

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

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.

Thomason Tracts

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

Garrick Collection of English Plays

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

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

Scandinavian printed collections

One of the richest collections of books from the Scandinavian countries

Portuguese printed collections

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

Spanish printed collections

Includes 16,600 Spanish books published before 1801