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 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

Hostility to the Census of India in 1880

Thursday, November 21, 2019

In 1872, the British began the decennial Census of India, as part of the continuing work to survey India and its people. The next census was carried out in 1881, and every ten years after that. The collecting of data...

Contravening the Official Secrets Act in World War II – Part 2

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Continuing our story of Arthur Thomas Williams and the Peace Pledge Union…. The fake telegrams were carefully run off on a duplicator and then planted. One of the spurious telegrams planted at the India Office - from The National Archives...

Contravening the Official Secrets Act in World War II – Part 1

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Our last post told the story of how India Office Records were stored in a Cheshire salt mine during the Second World War. I felt sorry for paperkeeper Arthur Thomas Williams who worked in very uncomfortable conditions in Winsford. What...

Workshop on “Digitisation Workflows & Digital Research Studies Methodologies”

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

In this post, Nicolas Moretto, Metadata Systems Analyst at the British Library, reflects on his work trip to India. Earlier this year I was given the opportunity to attend a workshop on “Digitisation Workflows & Digital Research Studies Methodologies” held...

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

Exhibition

Buddhism

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Discover the art, origins and its relevance today

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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