Accessing British Library online content and services

British Library, St Pancras

Our Reading Rooms and public spaces may be closed for the time being but over the coming weeks we will continue to offer as many online services as we possibly can so that the British Library remains open to everyone, wherever you are in the world. And we will be working hard to maintain this access during these unprecedented times.

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We’ve put together this guide to help you explore our collection, whether you need specific resources, specialist advice or just some interesting stories to keep you busy right now.

Who can I speak to about my research?

Our reference team are still able to answer enquiries online via Quick Chat (MondayFriday 10.00–16.00) or email. Find out who to contact

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We hope to deliver our usual high level of service but please bear in mind we might not be able to answer all enquiries without access to our physical collections or electronic resources.

For all other enquiries please contact Customer Services at customer-services@bl.uk.

I don’t have a Reader Pass, what can I do?

If you don’t have a Reader Pass, don’t worry. The following content is available for everyone – at all times from any location.

Our digital collections page is the place to start.

Collections available include:

  • Business & Management: Download research reports, summaries, briefings, working papers and articles from key publishers.
  • Endangered Archives: View archives, manuscripts, photographs and sounds from around the world.
  • EThOS: Search all full text doctoral theses awarded by UK Higher Education Institutions with free access to around 160,000 theses.
  • Manuscripts: View digitised copies of selected manuscripts and archives including Beowulf and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook.
  • Maps: Explore selected digitised historic maps of London, the UK, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas.
  • Social Welfare: Access our collection of research and information on social policy and the welfare state.
  • Sounds Online: Listen to over 95,000 sound recordings covering music, spoken word and nature.
  • Treasures in Full: Examine every page of rare historic works in standard or magnified view, compare different editions side-by-side or read supporting material by our curators and other experts.

You may also enjoy going down the rabbit hole with our digital learning resources such as Discovering Literature and Discovering Children’s Books. Here you’ll find a wealth of stories, workshops and activities to keep children and adults alike entertained. 

And for all you data geeks out there, our Research Repository allows download of datasets that include digitised content and metadata, as well as providing access to research from British Library staff.

Content hosted on other platforms includes:

  • Google Books
  • Flickr: View more than a million digitised images from out-of-copyright collection items.
  • UK Web Archive: Explore thousands of archived websites, track trends in words or phrases, and nominate websites for archive. 

I’m a registered Reader, can I access any content online?

If you’re a registered Reader you can access a small number of Library-subscribed resources on your own device, from any location, by logging in to our Remote E-resources service. These include:

  • Credo Reference
  • Clarivate/Web of Knowledge databases
  • Ebsco databases in business, humanities and social science subjects
  • Readex digitised newspapers
  • BioOne science journals.

Access depends on the publisher agreeing to license their content to us with the right to remote access for Readers, so not everything is available. We’re not able to make Non-Print Legal Deposit content available remotely under the current regulations.

For more information search Remote access FAQs on our website.  

Can I still use your On Demand services?

Following the recent announcement from the UK Government, the British Library is providing a limited On Demand service from our electronic stores only. Any requests for documents from our print holdings which were submitted before 24 March and are currently in process, will not be supplied and will not receive any further notification or response.

The EHESS Service to UK Higher Education and the Loan Service have been suspended.

This situation is under constant review and if circumstances change we will let you know, with up to date information available on the On Demand homepage.

Our Customer Services team are receiving emails but are currently unable to take any phone calls. They can be contacted via customer-services@bl.uk.