Visiting the Reading Rooms

People sitting in a Reading Room

We can’t wait to welcome you back.

Select the Reading Room you want to book for from the list below 

You can now book visits up to 19 June. You need a Box Office account to book tickets. This is different to your Reader account and you can set one up when you book. Please check back for returns if you can't book right away.

We’ll let you know about planning your visits after 19 June as soon as we can.

You can check your upcoming bookings, resend your tickets or reset your Box Office password here

If you can no longer attend your booked slot, please email boxoffice@bl.uk as soon as you can, so we can reallocate your ticket and allow more researchers to attend.

St Pancras

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

Reader Registration, St Pancras... 
for new Reader Passes
for Reader Pass renewals

Public desks

Members’ Room

Boston Spa

Boston Spa Reading Room, Yorkshire

Boston Spa – Newsroom, Yorkshire

Reader Registration, Boston Spa... 
for new Reader Passes
for Reader Pass renewals

  • You need to pre-book a ticket to visit the Reading Rooms and Reader Registration, and to use our public desks and Members’ Room for personal study
  • And you’ll need a Reader Pass to visit the Reading Rooms.

Everyone must wear a face covering at all times while they’re here. Please let a member of staff know if you’re exempt, or we may ask you to leave.

We’re reopening gradually in line with government guidance, and we really appreciate your patience while we work hard to welcome you back safely. 

Our Reading Room opening times from Tuesday 18 May 2021

St Pancras

Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 10.30 – 15.30

Wednesday and Thursday 10.30 – 19.30 (excluding Maps, Manuscripts and Asian & African Studies)

Boston Spa

Tuesday - Friday 10.30 – 15.30 

First, pre-book your slot using our Box Office

  • You’ll need a Reader Pass with an expiry date of or after 18 March 2020. If it expired before this date you can book an appointment to renew
  • Use our online Box Office to book a Reading Room slot. Please note you can book up to 15 slots between 18 May – 19 June, and can only book slots for yourself. Booked slots are for four hours from the start time on your ticket (five hours in Boston Spa)
  • Book your Reading Rooms slot using our Box Office before you order collection items to consult. Make sure you do it this way round or your items might be ordered for the wrong date.

Using our Box Office

  1. Select the Reading Room you wish to book for from the list above
  2. Check you’re booking the right Reading Room for the collection items you want to order
  3. Pick a date and timeslot from the list 
  4. Select 1 ticket and add to the basket. You can only book for yourself. Tickets are free 
  5. Proceed to checkout
  6. If you have bought a ticket from our Box Office in the past, enter your details to log in. If you have forgotten your password you can request an email to reset it. This account is different to your Reader account. If you are new to the Box Office, you will need to register. It might take a little while for this email to come through if our Box Office is busy. Please check your junk folder
  7. Accept our terms and conditions. This includes our COVID-19 declaration that you will not come to the Library if you are suffering from symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate
  8. Check your order and complete your booking 
  9. You will be emailed a confirmation and print at home ticket. You will need to bring your ticket with you. Please either print this out or show it on a mobile device on the day.

Second, pre-order collection items

  • You can order up to eight collection items (or up to four manuscripts), using our catalogues Explore the British Library or Explore Archives and Manuscripts. Some collection items can only be consulted in certain Reading Rooms, so please check before you book. 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 five working days
  • Order collection items at least 48 hours before your booked slot. You won’t be able to order on the day, so make sure you order in advance. Please find item ordering deadlines below, according to the day of your visit. If you only want to view electronic items via the Reading Room PCs, you don’t need to book this in advance but you will still need a Reading Room ticket.
If you book a desk for:  you need to order your items by the end of the previous 
Tuesday Thursday
Wednesday  Sunday 
Thursday Tuesday 
Friday Wednesday 
Saturday Wednesday 

Most importantly, please check My Reading Room Requests before you set off to the Library to make sure your items have arrived.

Next, visit the Library

You'll need to bring:

  • Your Reader Pass and Reading Room ticket (we’ll email this to you)
  • A face covering, which you must wear at all times, including at your desk in the Reading Room. Please let a member of staff know if you're exempt, or we may ask you to leave
  • Only essential items in a clear plastic bag. Clear plastic bags will be available on the day if you don’t have one
  • If you need to bring more, please leave coats and bags in the Cloakroom or Locker Room as you can’t take these into the Reading Rooms. Please clean your locker with the wipes provided after use

When you get to St Pancras

  • Entry to the Library is at Gate 2 on Ossulston Street. Please arrive no more than 30 minutes before the start time on your ticket, so we can manage social distancing in the queue. The queue may take up to 30 minutes
  • You’ll need to show both your Reader Pass and your Reading Room ticket at Gate 2
  • There will be a one-way system across the Piazza and around the Library. This might take a little longer but it’s keeping everyone safe. This route will take you past the Cloakroom and Locker Room
  • You’ll need to pass through Security at the Main Entrance. Security may need to check your bag and will do so with minimal contact
  • Your booking will be for a specific Reading Room so please follow the signs. 

In the Reading Rooms at St Pancras

  • We’re limiting the number of Readers in the Reading Rooms to keep everyone safe
  • You must wear a face covering at all times, including when at your desk in the Reading Room
  • When you arrive at the Reading Room, you’ll need to show your Reader Pass and Reading Room ticket to Security
  • You’ll be directed to the Issue Desk where you’ll be given your desk allocation. We’re allocating desks to keep a safe distance between Readers
  • If you’ve ordered collection items, you can also collect these from the Issue Desk
  • If you need to use a PC these will be spaced out too, with wipes provided to keep them clean
  • Self-service copying will be available, with payment by card only. Staff won’t be able to assist at the moment
  • Materials on open shelves in the Reading Rooms will not be accessible
  • If you have a reference enquiry, ask our Reference Specialists in the Reading Rooms or contact them via QuickChat or email.

Other facilities at St Pancras

  • Our toilets will be open, with enhanced cleaning procedures in place
  • Ticketholders can visit our shop, or Origin Coffee on Euston Road. From 18 May the Kings Library Café on Floor 1 will reopen. Please note in line with government guidance you will need to scan the NHS Track and Trace QR code to enter the King’s Library Café, or you can provide us with your name, email address or phone number instead
  • We’ve switched off the water fountains for hygiene reasons, but you can bring a filled bottle of water with you. Normal Reading Room guidelines apply and drinks will need to be stored in the Cloakroom or Locker Room
  • We’re now cashless, so we only accept card payments
  • No smoking is permitted anywhere on the St Pancras site, including the Piazza.

When you get to Boston Spa

  • You’ll need to show both your Reader Pass and your Reading Room ticket at the Security kiosk at the entrance to the visitor car park
  • Free parking will be available as usual
  • There will be a one-way system into the Reading Room, please follow the signs
  • You won’t need to sign in, but you will need to show your Reader Pass and Reading Room ticket at Reception
  • The toilets will be open as usual, with enhanced cleaning procedures in place
  • The water fountain will be available to use, please follow the instructional signage
  • Our restaurant will reopen from 18 May. Please note in line with government guidance you will need to scan the NHS Track and Trace QR code to enter the restaurant, or you can provide us with your name, email address or phone number instead.

In the Reading Room at Boston Spa

  • We’re limiting the number of Readers in the Reading Room to keep everyone safe
  • You must wear a face covering at all times, including when at your desk in the Reading Room
  • When you arrive you’ll be directed to an allocated desk, where your pre-ordered collection items will be waiting
  • Please leave the collection items on the desk when you are finished
  • If you need to use a PC, these will be spaced out, with wipes provided to keep them clean
  • Self-service copying will be available, with payment by card only. Staff won’t be able to assist at the moment.

If you have a disability or access requirements  

  • Please let us know before you visit by emailing disability-support-officer@bl.uk
  • When you arrive, make yourself known to Security staff at Gate 2 who will arrange assistance 
  • If you will be accompanied by an assistant or carer, they will also need to have a Reader Pass (with an expiry date on or after 18 March 2020) and a Reading Room ticket to enter the buildings. Please contact disability-support-officer@bl.uk for more information
  • Find out more about accessibility at the Library.

Keeping everyone safe

  • Face coverings must be worn at all times, including at your desk in the Reading Room. Please let a member of staff know if you're exempt, or we may ask you to leave
  • Our one-way system helps everyone stay safe by social distancing. We’ve added markers throughout the Library to help you keep a safe distance 
  • Please ensure you wash your hands frequently and use our hand sanitisers where available
  • Please don’t come to the Library if you feel unwell.

Need help?

Our customer services team can be reached by email at customer-services@bl.uk or 01937 546060.

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.