The British Library is a legal deposit library for the United Kingdom's official publications and has print documentation from governments worldwide. It is a European Documentation Centre and depository library for international organisations such as the United Nations.

Collection guides

Desks, shelving and Readers in the Social Sciences Reading Room at the British Library

Social Sciences Reading Room

You’ll need a Reader Pass to:

  • View our extensive open access collection material
  • Access online databases and electronic books and journals
  • Use our catalogues to order items from our extensive reference collection

If you need help, please ask our specialists at the enquiry desk.

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.

Mon: 10.00 – 20.00
Tue – Thu: 09.30 – 20.00
Fri – Sat: 09.30 – 17.00
Sun & English Public Holidays: closed

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

For enquiries, please contact the Social Science Reference Team.


Launch of 19th-Century House of Lords Papers Online

1 January 0001

Come to the Library and explore the newly launched collection of digitised 19th-century House of Lords papers.

Launch of Electoral Registers 1832-1932 Online

1 January 0001

Findmypast and the British Library have published an estimated 220 million records of English, Welsh and Irish voters online.

Case studies

…The range of materials available allows me to examine how ideas have unfolded…

Toby Austin Locke explains how he uses government publications.

…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.

External links

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

The Bodleian Library

Official papers at the Bodleian Library, Oxford

The National Archives

The official archive of the UK government

The National Library of Scotland

The largest collection of official publications in Scotland

The National Library of Wales

Official publications from the UK and the Republic of Ireland