Visiting the Reading Rooms

People sitting in a Reading Room

We’re a bit different to your local library. You can’t take the books out, but you can order any of our 170 million collection items to see in one of our Reading Rooms in London and Yorkshire.

You just need a Reader Pass, and it’s free to get one. 

New to the Library? Book an appointment to come and get a Pass at the Library in London or Yorkshire

Lost, forgotten, or need to renew your Pass? Book an appointment to renew. Please check you remember your Reader account username and password before your appointment. Try logging into My Account at home. If you can't remember your details you can request a username reminder or a password reset. You'll be sent an email; click on the link provided within 24 hours and follow the onscreen instructions.

Everyone needs to wear a face covering in the Reading Rooms, including when seated at your desk, unless you’re exempt. Wearing a face covering is a condition of entry to our Reading Rooms.

Thank you for being considerate of others. Find out more about how we’re keeping everyone safe

If you feel unwell or anyone in your household is showing symptoms of COVID-19, please don’t come to the Library. If you’ve pre-ordered collection items to consult please contact for assistance.

Please leave any coats, bags or laptop cases in the cloakroom or in a locker before entering the Reading Rooms. The temperatures inside the Reading Rooms are set to protect our collection and may feel cool, so please bring an extra layer for your comfort.

If you have a disability and require assistance accessing our collections please refer to our Accessibility page.

Check our opening hours.

Our Reading Rooms

St Pancras, London:

Asian & African Studies, St Pancras
Business & IP Centre, St Pancras
Humanities 1 and 2, St Pancras
Manuscripts, St Pancras
Maps, St Pancras
Newsroom, St Pancras
Rare Books & Music, St Pancras
Science 2 and 3, St Pancras
Social Sciences, St Pancras 

Boston Spa, Yorkshire:

Boston Spa Reading Room, Yorkshire

Viewing collection items

You can order collection items in advance of your visit to the Reading Rooms, using our catalogues Explore the British Library or Explore Archives and Manuscripts. If you would like to reserve any items to consult again just let our staff at the Issue Desk know. You can reserve items for up to three working days.

You can also order collection items on the day and while you are in the Reading Room for delivery within 70 minutes. Please note collection items are stored across our two sites in London and Yorkshire so some may be unavailable for same-day ordering.

You can keep an eye on your orders at My Reading Room Requests. If you’ve pre-ordered items please check this before you set off to the Library to make sure your items have arrived. 

Need help?

Our customer services team can be reached by email at or 01937 546060, or collection item enquiries at 01937 546060 or

If you need help with your research or to check which Reading Room to visit you can ask our librarians.

Data Protection and Track & Trace

In addition to collecting contact details as part of our normal booking process, we will also be recording the times that users enter and leave our premises in order to reduce the risk of a local outbreak of coronavirus.

In line with guidance issued by the Department for Health and Social Care, we will keep these details for 21 days. We will share your contact details with Test and Trace personnel, if asked, in the event of a fellow user or staff member testing positive for coronavirus.

Your data will be kept secure and handled in line with ethical standards and the Data Protection Act at every stage of the process – from its collection and storage by us to its transfer and use by NHS Test and Trace. NHS Test and Trace will handle all data according to the highest ethical and security standards and it will be used only for NHS care, management, evaluation and research.

The Library’s Privacy Policy can be found on our website.