Doctoral Open Days 2022: Get started with the British Library

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A series of webinars and on-site events to introduce new PhD students to our collections

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What is the British Library? What’s in the collection? And how can I find what I need? Join us for a series of webinars to learn how to kick off your research.  Our online Doctoral Open Days will be followed by two on site orientation days at the Library in St Pancras.

Pick up the basics with our introductory webinar, and then choose from a range of modules, each introducing an area of our collection so you can focus on what will be relevant to you.

All online sessions take place on Wednesday afternoons between 12 January and 2 March 2022.  You will then be invited to join us onsite  on 4 or 7 March 2022, and more information will be circulated in February.

All events in the series are free, and you can join as many as you like. In fact, we recommend you do because you never know what you might find.

What to expect

The webinars offer a combination of live and pre-recorded presentations. The pre-recorded presentations will be available to you in advance so you can watch at your leisure. Each live module will then focus on a specific collection area and give you the opportunity to talk directly with our curators and your fellow researchers in interactive discussion groups.


Module 1: Getting Started with the British Library (12 January 2022)

The perfect place to start. You’ll get an overview of our extensive collection, plus practical tips on how to use our catalogues and navigate our digital resources. Highly recommended for researchers of all disciplines and subject areas.

When booking this webinar you will be able to indicate which additional modules from the list below you would like to attend.

This event has now taken place.


Module 2: The Americas and Oceania Collections (19 January 2022)

Learn about the extraordinary scope of our Americas and Oceania collections in manuscript, print, microform, recorded and digital formats. Additional breakout sessions provide a closer look at the Oceania, Canada and the USA, Caribbean and Latin American collections.

This event has now taken place.


Module 3: Asian and African Collections (26 January 2022)

Our Asian and African collections cover hundreds of languages and are key to anyone studying material from Africa, South East Asia, South Asia, East Asia and the Middle East and Central Asia. Join us for a closer look and to find out more in breakout sessions with our curators.

This event has now taken place.    


Module 4: British and European Collections (2 February 2022)

This module will appeal to all researchers undertaking PhDs with a particular focus on History, Literature, History of Art, Religious Studies and the History of Science and Medicine in the Western Heritage, British and European collections. Our curators will record introductions to these vast collections for you to watch ahead of the live webinar. Then join us for live breakout sessions to hear about more specific areas within the collections and ask any questions you may have.

This event has now taken place.  


Module 5: Music Collections (9 February 2022)

Several million items of printed music, original manuscripts, private papers and sound recordings in our collection span all genres from Purcell to Panufnik, from Punk and Pop. Learn more about how this collection can aid your research not just in music, but anthropology, history and culture.

This event has now taken place. 


Module 6: Not Just Books - Digital Collections and Resources (16 February 2022)

Web archives, metadata, digital research and more. Discover more about collection areas you might not have considered for your research, via pre-recorded videos. Then join us for live breakout sessions to learn more and ask your questions.

This event has now taken place.


Module 7:  Contemporary Society and Culture Collections (23 February 2022)

How can you unlock the potential of millions of items in our contemporary collections? We’ll give you some tips. Learn how to navigate the manuscript, archival, digital and print sources for the study of 20th- and 21st-century Britain and Ireland, including resources you won’t find elsewhere.

This event has now taken place.  


Module 8: Maps to Media: Discover the Unexpected in our Collection (2 March 2022)

Whatever your research, maps, sounds, news and media, science, visual arts or even the India Office Records, could play a part. We’ll introduce you to collections you might not be aware of through pre-recorded videos. Live breakout sessions will give you an opportunity to find out more through discussions with our staff and your fellow researchers .

 This event has now taken place.  


On-site Open Days 4 and 7 March 2022

These practical on-site events at the Library in St Pancras will enable you to get your Reader Pass, and meet fellow students and our curators.  You will go on a tour of the building and see some highlights from our collection. Due to limited capacity, these events will only be open to those who have attended at least one of our webinars.

These events have now taken place.


Funding for 12 new studentships in the AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme

31 May 2023

Funding for 12 new collaborative PhD studentships

Publication of 2021–22 Research Report

25 April 2023

Publication of the British Library's 2021–22 Research Report.

Watch this space for our 2023 Doctoral Open Days!

23 November 2022

British Library Doctoral Open Days 2023