British Library

Established as an independent institution in 1973, the British Library is the largest library in the world, with well over 150 million items in its collection.

Since 1997 the library has been housed in a purpose-built building at St Pancras in London, and continues to add around three million items to its collection each year.

Permanent collections

As a legal deposit library, the British Library is sent one copy of everything published in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. In addition to newly published books, the library is home to several manuscripts of huge historic significance, from Beowulf to the Magna Carta. These and others are on display to the general public at the library's Sir John Ritblat Gallery, which is open daily with no admission charge. The museum also has an exciting exhibitions programme, which draws upon its own collections and loans from elsewhere.

Art Funded works

Dating to between 1250 and 1260, the Rutland Psalter is an elaborately illuminated manuscript. Nearly all of its 190 pages are decorated, six with full page miniature illustrations.

The Mervyn Peake Archive is a collection of drawings, poetry notebooks and manuscripts by the artist and author. His illustrations form a significant portion of the archive, including the complete set of original illustrations for Lewis Carroll's Alice books.

Visitor information

The permanent displays and shop are open to the general public daily, free of charge, but there is a charge for special exhibitions. The library's reading rooms are available to anyone with with a legitimate need to access works in the library's collection for research or personal reasons – individuals will need to register for a Reader Pass online or at the Reader Registration Office.

The café at the back of the entrance hall offers snacks, light lunches and free wi-fi, so expect to see researchers huddled over laptops. The espresso bar in the courtyard is a great place for a quick coffee, while the restaurant on the first floor offers a more leisurely experience.

Art we've helped buy at British Library

Venue details

British Library 96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB 020 7412 7332

Entry details

Free entry to all
50% off exhibitions with National Art Pass

Main building

Mon – Thu, 9.30am – 8pm

Fri, 9.30am –​6pm (Sat until 5pm)

​Sun, 11am-5pm

Treasures Gallery and PACCAR exhibitions

Tue –Thu, 9.30am-8pm, Mon & Fri until 6pm, Sat until 5pm, Sun 11am – 5pm