The British Library offers many resources for the study of Black and Asian history, politics, culture and creative arts in Britain. Our collections also reflect the long and turbulent histories of race and empire, as well as post-colonialism. They include music, books, journals, archives and manuscripts, newspapers, maps and photographs, prints and drawings, web pages and stamps. We also offer a range of relevant events.

Collection guides

Reading Room  Paul Grundy

St Pancras Reading Rooms

At St Pancras we have 11 Reading Rooms, each specialising in a different subject area or type of material and with different opening hours. In our Reading Rooms you can:

  • Consult books, journals and other items from our collections
  • Access a wide range of electronic resources and electronic journals
  • Consult subject guides, bibliographies and other research aids

If you need help, please ask our Reference Specialists at the enquiry desks or contact the Reference Service.

We offer a range of free Reader sessions and 1-2-1 consultations to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

'Strangers' in Tudor England and Stewart Scotland

Saturday, November 13, 2021

In Tudor England and Stewart Scotland foreigners were termed ‘aliens’ or ‘strangers’. They settled mainly in southern and eastern England and eastern Scotland, either for short periods or more permanently. While often welcomed for their skills and experience or because...

Recording of the week: James Baldwin at the Cambridge Union

Monday, November 8, 2021

By Steve Cleary, Lead Curator, Literary and Creative Recordings. The British Library launches a new web resource this week. It is called 'Speaking Out', and it seeks to explore the spoken word in its most forceful guise: that of the...

Andrew Salkey: “Too Polemic. Too Political”

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

By Eleanor Casson, Archivist and cataloguer of the Andrew Salkey Archive (Deposit 10310). Last few days to get tickets to Artist, Mentor, Friend, Activist: Andrew Salkey a Man of Many Hats a British Library conference held in collaboration with Goldsmiths...

Black History Month – Carlisle and Wellmon

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Carlisle and Wellmon (BL shelfmark 1SS0009976) By Jonathan Summers, Curator of Classical Music For Black History Month this year, I was delighted to find early recordings of two African American musicians made in London. The piano duo team of Carlisle...

More blog posts

Case studies

…The UK Web Archive is a fantastic resource for researchers…

Neema used the UK Web Archive to explore how ethnic minorities voted in the EU Referendum.

…Everyone is really willing to help each other out…

Melissa is doing collaborative PhD research on photographs of the British West India Regiments between 1865-1914.

…A collaborative PhD with the British Library gives me the means to access a public audience…

Ruth uses the digitised newspaper collection to explore attitudes towards immigration in nineteenth century Britain.

…The archival material provides fascinating insights…

Christian is evaluating the archival material of Dutch ethnomusicologist Arnold Adriaan Bake.

…we felt like we had a bond with everybody…

Jessica Rodgers took part in our Writing London project in 2012 engaging young people aged 16-24, outside of formal education, with library and heritage collections.

…It will be in the British Library for eternity!…

Hannah's collaborative PhD research will lead to a new archive on black British poetry in performance.

Projects

Africa's Sons Under Arms

Exploring the history of the British West India Regiments to understand changes in racial thought

Two Centuries of Indian Print

An international collaboration to digitise South Asian printed books

Community Engagement

Community Engagement works closely with local community groups and residents to develop collaborative British Library projects. We share with them our exciting collection and expertise and celebrate all of the great ideas and talent on our doorstep.

West Africa community project

Film series from the recent West Africa Community Project

All projects

External links

The British Library is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

Making Britain

Discover how South Asians shaped the nation, 1870-1950

Black Cultural Archives

Collecting and celebrating the heritage and history of Black people in Britain

George Padmore Institute

Research materials relating to the black community in Britain and Europe

Institute of Race Relations

Research and analysis in the struggle for racial justice in Britain and internationally

Stuart Hall Foundation

Supports creative and challenging thinking, debate and research

The Nehru Centre, London

The cultural wing of the High Commission of India