If you're researching the social sciences you'll find a wealth of useful resources at the British Library. Our collections cover politics, economics, law, sociology, linguistics and many other subjects. We have a wide range of materials including official publications, legal documents, business literature, journals and oral histories.

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.

Blog posts

Reflecting on activism and protest around the Disability Discrimination Act

Thursday, December 2, 2021

To highlight disability stories for Disability History Month, curator Eleanor Dickens presents collection items linked to protest around the Disability Discrimination Act alongside commentary from a member of the British Library’s Disability Support Network.

Six months that launched the Seventies

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Anthony Barnett's guest post recalls his time as a member of the editorial collective of a little-known revolutionary weekly newspaper entitled '7 Days'. He recounts how he became involved, what he saw as being at stake, the experience of producing it, and how it influenced him.

Football fanzines from print to the digital age: call for academic partners

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

This post details the British Library's current call for academics at UK universities and Higher Education Institutions to collaborate with us on a jointly-supervised doctoral research project on 'Football fanzines and fan communities in the digital age: challenges for publishing, reading and collecting fanzines'. Deadline for applications is 10 December 2021.

What can we learn from legal deposit data? A PhD placement at the British Library

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

This guest post by PhD placement student Lottie Hazell introduces research on data generated by legal deposit, and understanding more about the Library's collecting of digital books from small publishers.

More blog posts


National Life Stories: Legal Lives

In-depth interviews with people involved in the legal and criminal justice system

All projects

Case studies

More Case studies
…I think one of the underlying principles of the Fellowship… is that you might just be surprised by what you can find [at the BL].…

Exploring the potential for innovative sociological research with the British Sociological Association.

…The Open Day was a great way to find out about the wealth of material and expertise on offer at the Library.…

Exploring narratives of unemployment and employment of people with mild learning difficulties

…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.

…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.

…To create an archive which will be part of the Library is really a privilege…

Dvora is a collaborative PhD student exploring the social world of Crown Court clerks from the 1970s onwards.

External links

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

Business and Management Portal

High quality digital reports from the British Library’s collections.

Social Welfare Portal

Single point of access to the British Library's vast print and digital collections.