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

'South Asia Series' talks from June to October 2019

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

‘South Asia Seriesʼ in Summer and Autumn 2019 is packed with exciting and diverse set of speakers and talks based on the British Library ‘Two Centuries of Indian Print’ Project and South Asia Collection. Subjects range from credit relationships in...

Vijayanagara Research Project at the British Library

Friday, April 26, 2019

In January 2019 the British Library began a new research project with the Centre for Art and Archaeology (CA&A) at the American Institute of Indian Studies in New Delhi, focused on our Visual Arts collections. The project has been funded...

Map showing Air Force of the USSR, 1939

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

In a previous blog post, I noted that the files of the India Office contain many different kinds of maps, although not always of India. Another fascinating example, marked ‘Secret’, is a map showing the strength and distribution of USSR...

An Easter vacation for Indian cadets at Sandhurst

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

In the India Office Records there is a file dedicated to Easter vacation arrangements for Indian gentleman cadets at the Royal Military College Sandhurst in 1920. Some cadets wanted to stay with family or guardians in the UK whilst others...

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.

Related events

The Zee Jaipur Literature Festival

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A two-day taster of 'the greatest literary show on Earth'

Exhibition

Buddhism

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Explore the origins, philosophy and contemporary relevance of Buddhism

View all events

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