We have manuscripts dating back to the 17th century, early printed books, newspapers and periodicals, and modern research-level publications in the humanities and social sciences.

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 2020 British Library Labs Staff Award - Nominations Open!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Looking for entries now! Nominate an existing British Library staff member or a team that has done something exciting, innovative and cool with the British Library’s digital collections or data. The 2020 British Library Labs Staff Award, now in its...

The K.Top: 18,000 digitised maps and views released

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Today we release 18,000 digital images of historic maps, views and texts from the Topographical Collection of King George III into the public domain. The collection has been digitised as part of a seven-year project to catalogue, conserve and digitise...

Tickling the trees, dancing with clouds: Birds in Thai manuscript illustration (2)

Monday, September 28, 2020

In my previous article on Birds in Thai manuscript illustration I described depictions of natural birds in Thai Buddhist manuscripts. Images of birds can be found in scenes from the last ten Birth Tales of the Buddha, but also in...

Tickling the trees, dancing with clouds: Birds in Thai manuscript illustration (1)

Monday, September 7, 2020

In my previous article on The Buddha and his natural environment in Thai manuscript art I discussed artistic depictions of the natural environment in which the historical Buddha is placed, highlighting the close relationship he had with the natural world...

More blog posts

External links

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South East Asia Library Group

Scholars and librarians concerned with library provision for South-East Asian studies

Southeast Asia Digital Library

Provides researchers with a wide variety of materials

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Raffle's Ark Redrawn: Natural History Drawings from the Collection of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles

An exquisite illustrated catalogue of the 123 colourful natural history drawings of the Raffles Family Collection.

£20

The Book of the British Library

As well as holding some of the world's most prized cultural treasures, the British Library is the repository of the nation's collective memory.

£25.00