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

Readers at desks in the Asian and African Reading Room

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 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

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

Opening hours for all Reading Rooms

Blog posts

Lotus Sutra Project: Scroll with Blue Cover

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Marya Muzart, Digitisation Conservator, International Dunhuang Project Picture 1: Close up of digitised scroll after treatment. The Lotus Sutra Manuscripts Digitisation Project at The British Library, is a multi-year project aiming to conserve and digitise almost 800 copies of the...

King's Topographical Collection: curator's pick

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

In October we released 18,000 digital images of early maps and views from the Topographical Collection of George III. View the collection on Flickr Commons, and access images via the maps and views' catalogue records on Explore. Here's my choice...

Recording of the Week: A chance encounter

Monday, November 23, 2020

This week's selection comes from Sarah Coggrave, Rights Clearance Officer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. In 1978, Roger Waldron was staying at an elephant camp in Chitwan, Nepal. One night, two musicians emerged from the darkness and began to play....

Object, Story and Wonder: Museum Collections Revealed with the British Library

Monday, November 16, 2020

Earlier this summer while in lock down, the Bagri Foundation extended an invitation to curators based in the UK and abroad to collaborate on a new digital series to showcase their collections while museums and libraries were forced to shut...

More blog posts

Staff profiles

Dr Malini Roy

Head of Visual Arts

Dr Nur Sobers-Khan

Lead Curator, South Asian Collections

Dr Antonia Moon

Lead Curator, post-1858 India Office Records

Dr Margaret Makepeace

Lead Curator, East India Company Records

More staff members

Case studies

More Case studies
…The BL Newspaper collections are vast and in many cases also rare and unique in their content and collection histories. …

Junaid-Ul-Hassan is a Chevening Fellow working at the British Library on a project titled ‘News and Media in South Asia: Past and Present’.

…The archival material provides fascinating insights…

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

Featured collection items

Projects

Two Centuries of Indian Print

An international collaboration to digitise South Asian printed books

Digital access to Persian Manuscripts

Our collection of Persian Manuscripts is one of the most important in the world

All projects

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