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Other libraries in London: British Library

Guide to other libraries in London useful to SIA students

British Library


Eduardo Paolozzi, Isaac Newton, 1995 Bronze (height 3.7 m). British Library.
Source: fabonthemoon, Flickr (edited). Licence.

British Library

British Library homepage
British Library catalogue

Included in Library Hub Discover? Yes


A reader pass is needed to access books and online resources. To be granted a pass you must show that you need to consult items you cannot easily access elsewhere. For SIA students, this means simply providing a short list of items in the BL which the SIA library does not have. This can be your own list: it does not need to be an official SIA reading list. Reader passes are issued for differing periods. MA students normally receive a year's pass in the first instance.  You must book an appointment to register and then complete registration in person. At this point you must provide appropriate proof of identification, including original documents showing your address (preferably in the UK, otherwise in another country) and signature.

Once you have your pass, you will need to additionally register for a British Library online account.

There is no borrowing, unless you pay to use the On Demand document supply service. A reader pass is not necessary for access to the cafes, exhibitions or shop. 



+44 (0)20 7412 7676 / Reference Enquiry Team    Kings Cross    (map 


Probably the largest library in the world, with 150 million items. Particularly good for items published in Britain and Ireland. Extensive special collections, e.g. Leonardo da Vinci notebooks.  

Online resources and wif-fi

A wide range of online resources is available, but almost always only on the computers in the reading rooms. Art-related resources include some which SIA does not subscribe to: Art Sales Catalogues Online (incorporating Lugt's Répertoire), Artists of the World Online (based on Thieme & Becker), Design and Applied Arts Index (DAAI),  the Index of Medieval Art,  LGBT+ Source, The Paintings of India, SCIPIO and the Vogue Archive. There are also many business resources. There is wi-fi throughout the building, but very few of the BL's online resources can be accessed this way. However a small number of resources can be accessed from any location, on your own device: these include Business Source Complete, which is a more comprehensive version of Business Source Premier and LGBT+ Source.

Register for the Management & Business Studies Portal to download various business reports and papers to your own device, from any location. Registration is very quick and easy once you have set up a BL online account (see above, under Access). Business databases offered include Business Source Complete (a larger collection than Business Source Premier available at SIA), EMIS (Emerging Markets Information Service) and Mintel

A limited number of other online resources, notably PhD theses, can be accessed via the main British Library catalogue.  Apply the Available online filter after running your search:



The UK web archive provides access to older versions of websites, and websites which are no longer online.


Help with your research

The BL provides  guides to art-related collections and business and management studies. There is a Reference Enquiry Team you can contact in person or by email, chat or phone.

Tip #1: request material before your visit via the catalogue. Virtually all books are in storage, and most take 90 minutes to arrive. Some are stored outside London and take two working days to arrive.

Tip #2: the reading rooms - the part of the library where you access books and  online resources - have strict and extensive conditions of use which it is worth reading before you visit. For instance, pencils but not pens may be taken into the reading rooms.