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Who can register for a Reader Pass

Anyone can apply for a Reader Pass to use our Reading Rooms, but due to pressure on our services we cannot guarantee admission. A Reader Pass is issued subject to your need to see specific items in our collections. Other libraries or sources may be more appropriate to your research and staff will advise you accordingly.

Before you register, please note that the British Library is very different from public and university libraries:

  • In London, the majority of the collections are held in closed stores and have to be ordered to a reading room. At Boston Spa, all items are held in  closed stores and have to be ordered in advance.
  • Delivery of items from storage areas to reading rooms depends where the item is stored and to which reading room the item is delivered. More information is available in our FAQs for readers using London Reading Rooms and readers using the Boston Spa Reading Room.
  • Before you register for a pass you should search the Library’s Catalogues to confirm that we have the material you require. Remember to bring with you details of those items you wish to see.
  • The Library does not hold multiple copies of standard texts.
  • You cannot borrow items from any of our Reading Rooms. However, those items in the Library's main catalogue, Explore the British Library, with a 'Document Supply' prefix may be requested as interlibrary loans through public, academic and business libraries.
  •  We do not routinely issue a Reader Pass to anyone under the age of 18. There are special arrangements and you must apply at least 10 days in advance of your first visit.