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

Sources for Dr B R Ambedkar

Thursday, February 25, 2021

The India Office Records and Private Papers contains much fascinating material relating to one of the most inspiring figures in India’s struggle for independence from British rule, Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar. Despite the obstacles put in his way, Dr Ambedkar...

A British Army route march in India

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Edith E. Cuthell was a well-known author in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many of her stories drew on her experiences as the wife of a British Army officer serving in India. In ‘Up to the Hills’, published...

Sir Robert Preston and the East India Company

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Robert Preston (1740-1834) was born in Scotland, the fifth son of Sir George Preston of Valleyfield. He started his career with the East India Company at the age of eighteen serving as Fifth Mate on the Streatham, which sailed for...

Recording of the week: From feminist utopias to contemporary sound

Monday, February 8, 2021

This week's selection comes from Harriet Roden, Digital Learning Content Developer for Unlocking our Sound Heritage. Imagine a land where flowers pave the streets, energy is solely reaped from the sun and air-cars transport people to universities, laboratories and observatories....

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

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