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

The 1914 United Missionary Exhibition 'Other Lands in Leicester': a global and colonial aspiration

Thursday, January 27, 2022

In April 1914 the newly built De Montfort Hall in Leicester hosted a United Missionary Exhibition. ‘Other Lands in Leicester’ was described as ‘A picturesque and vivid representation of work in many lands’. The exhibition was deliberately fixed during Easter...

The man who lost his memory – Part 2

Thursday, January 20, 2022

We continue our story of the Reverend Philip Read, looking at his work and travels across the globe. Philip Read (or Philip Chesshyre Read) was born in 1850 in Hyde, Cheshire, the son of Anglican clergyman Alexander and his wife...

The man who lost his memory – Part 1

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

In February 1896 a man calling himself William Simpson was sent from Bhusawal to the Bombay Commissioner of Police. ‘Simpson’ was suffering from loss of memory and could only remember a few facts about himself. He had travelled a great...

New online - December 2021

Monday, January 17, 2022

This month's round-up of newly available collections features archives from India, Romania, Moldova, and Indonesia. Digitisation of the Kováts Napfényműterem photographic archive (Odorheiu Secuiesc, Romania) (EAP1130) Preserving the History of Indian Cinema through Digitising Early Urdu Film Magazines (EAP1262) Safeguarding...

More blog posts

Staff profiles

Dr Malini Roy

Head of Visual Arts

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

Sinhalese Manuscripts Pilot Digitisation Project

A pilot digitisation project that aims to make freely available four palm leaf manuscripts from the British Library’s Sinhalese manuscript collections

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