Visiting the Reading Rooms

People sitting in a Reading Room

We can't wait to welcome you back.

At the moment you need a ticket to visit our Reading Rooms and Reader Registration so we can make sure everyone has enough space and feels safe while they’re here. In line with government guidance we’re intending to remove ticketing by the end of August. 

Tickets for visits from 19 July will be released at 11.00 on 8 July. We’ll be relaxing some of our restrictions after 19 July and you can find more details here about what to expect when you visit.

If you book a ticket, please cancel if you can’t attend. You shouldn’t come to the Library if you have COVID-19 symptoms or have been told to self-isolate. Just let us know if you can’t make it by emailing and we’ll reschedule your visit.

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

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 

Boston Spa

Boston Spa Reading Room, Yorkshire

Boston Spa – Newsroom, Yorkshire

You need a Reader Pass with an expiry date of or after 18 March 2020 to use the Reading Rooms. You can book an appointment to get a new Pass or renew yours if it is expired.

Reader Registration, St Pancras... 

for new Reader Passes
for Reader Pass renewals

Reader Registration, Boston Spa... 

for new Reader Passes
for Reader Pass renewals

How to book

  • 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. You can check your upcoming bookings, resend your tickets or reset your Box Office password here
  • Please note you can only book slots for yourself
  • Book your Reading Rooms slot 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.

Pre-order your collection items 48 hours in advance

  • 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 
Monday Thursday
Tuesday Sunday 
Wednesday Monday
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. 

Need help?

Our customer services team can be reached by email at or 01937 546060. Please note a maximum of five Reading Room slots can be booked by phone.

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.