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

New Projects Online - June 2020

Friday, July 3, 2020

In recent weeks we have continued to put new collections online. Here is a summary of four of the most recent projects to be made available. Notary Books of Bahia, Brazil, 1664-1910 [EAP703] Documentation of Endangered Temple Art of Tamil...

Vickers Jacob – a life in Ireland, India and Australia

Friday, July 3, 2020

In 1818 the Board of Commissioners for the Affairs of India received a memorial from Edward Cahill, a boot and shoe maker in Dublin. Mr Cahill reported that in 1808 he had supplied Vickers Jacob, a Bengal Army cadet, with...

The Santals, Scandinavian missionaries, and salvage ethnomusicology: an encounter of three worlds

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Since 2015, Christian Poske has conducted his PhD research on the Bengal recordings of the Arnold Bake Collection. A Collaborative Doctoral Scholarship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council UK, situated his PhD within two institutions: the British Library Sound...

Two Miscellanies in the Manuscript Collection of Sir William Jones

Monday, June 29, 2020

Sir William Jones collected a large array of manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Chinese and Sanskrit during both his life as a student and lawyer in London, and also as a puisne judge in Bengal. Collecting primarily Persian and Arabic materials...

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