Accessing British Library online content and services

British Library, St Pancras

We're carefully planning a return to our public spaces that keeps everyone safe, and we're always open online.

Published date:

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 (Monday–Friday 09.30–17.00) or email. Find out who to contact


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

For general enquiries about our services, exhibitions and events, you can contact our Customer Services Team by telephone on +44 (0)1937 546060 during the hours of 9.00 – 16.00, Monday to Friday or by email at

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.

We’ve recently made some changes to our main catalogue to make it easier to find digital content. You can now select Available online in the search bar and this will only return results that can be viewed online. You can still search all records by selecting Main catalogue when you search. Try it out at

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 350,000 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. 

We have also published this guide to freely available Open Access resources.

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?

You can find up to date information available on the On Demand homepage.

Where can I find research related to coronavirus?

We have published a Covid-19 Collection Guide, where you can find freely available public health information and research publications.