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

Using Transkribus for automated text recognition of historical Bengali Books

Friday, August 30, 2019

In this post Tom Derrick, Digital Curator, Two Centuries of Indian Print, explains the Library's recent use of Transkribus for automated text recognition of Bengali printed books. Are you working with digitised printed collections that you want to 'unlock' for...

Gerasim Lebedev, a Russian pioneer of Bengali Theatre

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Whilst browsing through a list of inhabitants of Calcutta in the 1790s one particular entry caught my attention. In June 1794 a Russian musician by the name of Gerasim Lebedev was listed as a resident of Calcutta. As it seemed...

Fourth ‘Queen’s Own’ Hussars in India

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

A small but unusual collection in the India Office Private Papers is a folder of ephemera of the British Army cavalry regiment, the Fourth Queen's Own Hussars. The items in the folder are mostly related to the Regiment’s time overseas...

Captain Henry Liddell’s recipe for spruce beer

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Entered in the journal of the ship Fame for 1796-1797 is Captain Henry Liddell’s recipe for spruce beer which was believed to ward off scurvy: Take 2 tablespoons of essence of spruce, add 20 or 21 lbs of molasses or...

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