We have rich resources for the study of South Asia past and present. South Asia is taken to include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Collection guides

Asia and Africa

Asian & African Studies Reading Room

  • Find information on the shelves
  • Access online databases and electronic books and journals
  • Order collection items to the Reading Room via our catalogues

If you need help, just ask our Information Specialists at the Reference Enquiry desk or contact the Asian & African Studies Reference Team.


We offer free Discovery and 1-2-1 Sessions to help you make the best use of the Library's collections.

You’ll need a Reader Pass

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

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

New black Britain and Asian Britain web pages launched

Friday, July 6, 2018

The British Library holds rich resources for the study of black Britain and Asian Britain. A new suite of web pages highlights the wide variety of material available, including printed, archival, visual, music and oral history collections. The development of...

Explore the British Library’s collections for Black British and Asian British Studies

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

With the launch of the Black Britain and Asian Britain subject hub, we are offering a resource to help researchers find and engage with our collections and activities in these areas. First edition of the classic autobiography of Olaudah Equiano...

Unravelling an archaeological silk bundle

Monday, July 2, 2018

MPhil student Clara Low is studying Textile Conservation at the University of Glasgow. As part of her course she is completing a placement for six weeks between her first and second year, here at the British Library. The following images...

Sophia Plowden, Khanum Jan, and Hindustani airs

Thursday, June 28, 2018

This guest post by Katherine Butler Schofield introduces her recent talk at the British Library on Sophia Plowden, Khanum Jan, and 'Hindustani airs', now available as a podcast “The Courtesan and the Memsahib: Khanum Jan meets Sophia Plowden at the...

More blog posts

Related events

Talks and Discussions FREE

A History of PEN in Pre-Independence India

The PEN in Pre-independence India: a short history of the Bombay and Bengal chapters

Talks and Discussions FREE

Dancing Through History: Manipuri in Colonial India

Dance history and dancing through history: Manipuri in colonial India

Talks and Discussions FREE

Revisiting the History of Deccani Scroll Paintings

Beyond temple paintings: towards an alternative history of the Deccani Scroll Paintings

Talks and Discussions FREE

Earthquakes and South Asia: Visualising 19th-Century Disaster

Visual representation and reportage of 19th-century South Asian earthquakes from colonial archives

View all events

External links

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

Centre of South Asian Studies

University of Cambridge

Find my past

Records of baptisms, marriages, burials, wills, pensions, military and civil career information

The National Archives

Records relating to the East India Company, and the Family Records Centre