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

Imagining Aliens and Looking for the Invisible: Imperialist Legacies in Science Fiction

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

by Callum McKean, Curator of Contemporary Literary and Creative Archives. Science Fiction can’t help but look backwards. Whether flying starships across the galaxy or warring with exotic extra-terrestrials, it struggles to escape the gravitational pull of the nineteenth century and...

Andrew Salkey and the first Publishing Houses for Black Writing in Britain

Thursday, July 30, 2020

By Eleanor Casson, Archivist and cataloguer of the Andrew Salkey Archive (Deposit 10310), working in collaboration with the Eccles Centre for American Studies and the British Library. This blog is part of a series looking at Salkey’s literary works and...

Ira Aldridge In the Spotlight

Friday, July 24, 2020

In this post, Dr Mia Ridge gives a sense of why sightings of Ira Aldridge in our historical playbills collection resonate... Ira Aldridge is one of the most popular 'celebrity spottings' shared by volunteers working with historical playbills on our...

Researching Women in Science in the Modern Manuscript Collections Part 2: 1849-1950

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The 19th century saw women in Britain campaigning for the right to the same access to education as men. In 1849, Bedford College became the first higher education college for women and more colleges would be set up in its...

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