British Library

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The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom, and one of the world's greatest libraries. Set up in 1973, with galleries formerly in the British Museum building, it moved to its spectacular flagship new home at St Pancras in Central London in 1997.

The John Ritblat Gallery: Treasures of the British Library, PACCAR Gallery of Living Words and the Workshop of Words, Sound and Images offer permanent displays and a changing programme of special thematic exhibitions. We also have the best permanent display of stamps and philately in the world.

The King's Library, housed in a 17-metre glass-walled tower at the heart of the building, plus a number of major works of art, can be seen by all visitors. The Library also offers a wide programme of events, including talks, music and discussions, all developing themes and ideas associated with the collections.

Venue Type:

Archive, Gallery, Library

Opening hours

Mon - Thu 09:30-20:00
Fri 09:30 - 18:00
Sat 09:30 - 17:00
Sun 11:00 - 17:00

Closed: 24 - 28 December, 1 January

Admission charges

FREE ENTRY to the Library

Major exhibitions are charged
Permanent Treasures Gallery FREE

The British Library is custodian of the most important research collection in the world, spanning almost 3,000 years and every continent. This covers books, journals, manuscripts, stamps, patents, sound recordings, printed music and maps.

The John Ritblat Gallery is home to a permanent exhibition of over 200 of the Library's most significant items. These include the Codex Sinaiticus (c. 350), Magna Carta (1215), the Gutenberg Bible (1455), and Shakespeare's First Folio (1623) as well as religious, literary, historical and musical works in the handwriting of Leonardo da Vinci, Lord Nelson, Lewis Carroll, Handel, Sir Paul McCartney and many others.

The award-winning Turning the Pages was developed by the Library and uses high quality digitised images to simulate actually turning the pages of a precious book. The PACCAR Gallery is home to temporary exhibitions. The Workshop of Words, Sound and Images is an interactive gallery which traces the story of book production and sound recording.

Collection details

World Cultures, Social History, Science and Technology, Religion, Personalities, Music, Literature, Decorative and Applied Art, Archives, Weapons and War

Exhibition details are listed below, you may need to scroll down to see them all.

The Philatelic Exhibition

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Philatelic Exhibition of 80,000 items on the upper ground floor offers a unique opportunity to see many great rarities.

Currently on display are:
The Tapling Collection World to 1890; exhibited are countries M - Z on 2,400 pages (countries A - L are available to researchers by appointment)
The Mosely Collection of British Africa to 1935
The Bojanowicz Collection of Poland 1939 - 1946 stamps and postal history
The Model Collection of Germany 1945 - 1946 local provisional stamps
The Harrison Collection of die proofs 1911 -1937, engraved by J.A.C. Harrison
The Davies Collection of Libyan revenue stamps 1955 - 1969
The Fitz Gerald Collection of World Airmails to the 1930s (selected pages)
The Bailey Collection of Spanish Civil War stamps and postal history 1936 - 1939 (selected pages)
The Turner Collection of Great Britain and Ireland Railway Letter Stamps 1891 - 1940 (selected pages)
The Langmead Collection of Great Britain and Ireland Telegraph stamps, 1851 - 1881

An associated book, The British Library Treasures in Focus: Stamps, is available from the Shop.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


Treasures of the British Library

  • 1 November 2014 — 1 November 2018 *on now

The Sir John Ritblat Treasures of the British Library Gallery hosts more than 200 beautiful and fascinating items: magnificent hand-painted books from many faiths, maps and views, early printed books, literary, historical, scientific and musical works from over the centuries and around the world.

Half of the items now on display have not been seen by the public for many years.

Suitable for

  • Family friendly


West Africa: Word, Symbol, Song

  • 16 October 2015 — 16 February 2016 *on now

Fascinating stories from the region’s 17 nations show how West Africans have harnessed the power of words to build societies, drive political movements, sustain religious belief and fight injustice.

Beautiful manuscripts, historic film and sound recordings, books, photographs, and woven and printed textiles offer a unique insight into a profound and engaging literary culture with centuries-old written heritage existing alongside ancient oral traditions.

Hear the myth of the founding of ancient Mali in recorded performance. See the influence of religion through colourful fabric and the saddlebag Qur’an. Celebrate writers and artists including Africa’s first Nobel prize winner, Wole Soyinka, and internationally acclaimed musician and human rights activist Fela Kuti.

Gain insights into West Africa’s fascinating heritage with unique collection items and newly-commissioned articles, and experience the region’s history, politics and literature.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Full Price: £10.00
Adult Gift Aid: £11.00 *
Senior 60+ Gift Aid: £9.00 *
Senior 60+: £8.00
Student: £5.00
Registered Unemployed: £5.00
Disabled: £5.00
Disabled Carer: Free
Under 18: Free


Alice in Wonderland Exhibition

  • 20 November 2015 — 17 April 2016 *on now

Happy Birthday Alice! To celebrate 150 years of the publication of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this exhibition explores how Alice has captured our imaginations for so many years.

Come and see Lewis Carroll’s original manuscript with hand-drawn illustrations, alongside stunning editions by Mervyn Peake, Ralph Steadman, Leonard Weisgard, Arthur Rackham, Salvador Dali and others.


Visit our Alice in Wonderland pop-up shop in the British Library Entrance Hall, from 21 October 2015 until 31 January 2016.

This exhibition is supported by a generous legacy from David Bacon, who was a great friend and Patron of the Library.

Suitable for

  • Any age


Events details are listed below. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all. For events that don't have a specific date see the 'Resources' tab above.
Publisher Press

Reading and Being Read: Readers, Writers, Publishers

  • 20 February 2016 11am-4pm

Susie Nott-Bower and Lynn Michell, Linen Press and Alex Pheby and Sam Jordison, Galley Beggar talk about the experience of writing and publishing new work. In the afternoon, we’ll be joined by Tony White, Piece of Paper Press, and students from the London College of Communication to collaboratively create our own independent publication. Susie Nott-Bower has worked in theatre and television production, before writing her first novel, The Making of Her (Linen Press, 2012). Susie is currently working on her second novel, Reborn, and regularly writes on the Strictly Writing blog. Alex Pheby is the author of two books, Grace (Two Ravens Press, 2009) and Playthings (Galley Beggar, 2015). Alex is a graduate of Goldsmith’s Creative Writing MA and teaches at the University of Greenwich. Linen Press was founded by Lynn Michel to publish diverse, challenging and surprising books written by women, and with women readers particularly in mind. The press publishes work from new and emerging authors, as well as more established writers. Galley Beggar Press was established in 2012 specifically to support writers of ambition and literary merit, who nevertheless have struggled to either find or retain a publisher. Tony White is an author, whose works include Shakleton’s Man Goes South (Science Museum, 2013), and Foxy-T (Faber & Faber, 2003). He has been writer in residence for the Science Museum and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, UCL. In 1994, he set up Piece of Paper Press as a low-tech imprint to publish new writings and visual or graphic works and distribute them for free.

In association with The Institute for Modern and Contemporary Culture, University of Westminster.


£10 / £5


Illustrating Alice

Illustrating Alice

  • 23 February 2016 6-8:30pm
  • 1 March 2016 6-8:30pm
  • 8 March 2016 6-8:30pm
  • 15 March 2016 6-8:30pm
  • 22 March 2016 6-8:30pm

We’ll explore character illustration, depict narrative scenes and sequences and develop creative ideas from the real world. You’ll have the opportunity to explore different media and techniques each week, and receive practical guidance throughout the course on a group and one-to-one basis. You’ll also hear from British Library curators, who will lead an exclusive tour of our popular Alice in Wonderland exhibition.

This practical course is led by illustrator Sion Ap Tomos with contributions from British Library curators.

Suitable for

  • 18+


Full Price: £220.00
Senior 60+: £198.00
Student: £187.00
Registered Unemployed: £187.00
Friend of the BL: £187.00


Speed Mentoring

Speed mentoring: Grow your business online

  • 24 February 2016 10am-1pm

Have you got plans to start an online business or want to use the internet to take your existing business to the next level?
Speed mentoring will give you the opportunity to meet experts who can advise you on how to make a profit online, maximise your online presence, protect your intellectual property online and reach new audiences through digital channels, including social media.

This event is being delivered as part of the Business & IP Centre’s ‘Digital Season’, showing you how to maximise your online potential.


Justine Roberts, Ning Li and Renaud Visage

Inspiring Entrepreneurs: Internet Icons

  • 29 February 2016 6:15-9pm

Online businesses are bigger than ever with entrepreneurs and investors eager to spot the next big internet phenomenon. If you’re a small business owner with big online ambitions, take this opportunity to quiz our panel of internet icons and find out how they have created some of the best-known global internet brands. This event includes a networking reception with drinks and canapés.




Enduring Ideas

Enduring Ideas: The Problem of Philanthropy

  • 1 March 2016 6:30-8pm

Philanthropy rouses passionate debate among both advocates and detractors. But, why are philanthropists regarded as paternalistic, even elitist? Do the benefits of giving outweigh such negative perceptions? Is philanthropy undermining the contemporary welfare state consensus? Join Dr Beth Breeze, University of Kent and a panel who will discuss. Chaired by Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO.

In partnership with the Academy of Social Sciences


£8 / £6 / £5


Alice and the World of Children Literature

Alice and the World of Children’s Literature

  • 2 March 2016 2-4pm
  • 9 March 2016 2-4pm
  • 16 March 2016 2-4pm
  • 23 March 2016 2-4pm

Lewis Carroll’s Alice books were a landmark in the development of literature for children. And as our current Alice in Wonderland exhibition shows, the texts have also had a significant impact on wider culture since their first publication.

We’ll delve into the aspects of Carroll’s books that have influenced other writers – nonsense and paradox; anthropomorphic fantasy; and the psychology of the child. You’ll also hear from British Library curators, who will lead an exclusive tour of our popular Alice in Wonderland exhibition.

The course is led by Dr Adam Lively, Middlesex University, with contributions from British Library curators.

Suitable for

  • 18+


Full Price: £220.00
Senior 60+: £198.00
Student: £187.00
Registered Unemployed: £187.00
Friend of the BL: £187.00


Alice in Wonderland

Alice/Ekphrasis: An evening of poetry inspired by Alice in Wonderland

  • 4 — 5 March 2016 7:30-9:30pm

How did Lewis Carroll tap into something that seems so extraordinary and yet so true on every level? At this event, some of our finest poets - Ian Duhig, Luke Wright, Helen Mort, Amali Rodrigo, Abegail Morley, Sasha Dugdale, Chris McCabe, Mona Arshi, Clare Pollard, Robert Seatter, Emer Gillespie, Catherine Smith, and Hollie McNish – read their new poems written to celebrate Alice in Wonderland. Actors also read excerpts from Alice, 150 years old, but timeless. An anthology of poetry written by poets from all across the UK will is being published to coincide with this event, and all ticket holders will receive a free copy. An ekphrasis is any work of art inspired, or written in response to another work of art. The word is most frequently used of poetry written in response to a painting or a text and perhaps the most celebrated example is John Keats’ Ode to a Grecian Urn. Ekphrasis was created to provide a bridge between modern poetry and thought-provoking exhibitions so that members of the public can engage with both poetry and the visual in new and unexpected ways.

Suitable for

  • Any age


£20 / £18 / £17


Late at the Library

Late at the Library: World Book Night celebrates Shakespeare

  • 23 April 2016 7:30-10:30pm

The date also marks the 400th anniversary of his death. Come to the British Library for a night of festivities in honour of our greatest writer with special guests, performance and music and food and drink. Entry to the new exhibition Shakespeare in Ten Acts is also included in the ticket price.


£15 / £12 / £10


World Book Night

World Book Night 2016

  • 23 April 2016 7-8:30pm

It's World Book Night - a celebration of words and reading which has become a hugely popular annual event. It sees passionate volunteers give out hundreds of thousands of books in their communities to share their love of reading with people who don’t read regularly or own books. The British Library and The Reading Agency present a special gala evening beginning with a fantastic line up of authors and other guests - each discussing the place of books in their lives and reading from some of their favourites.

The evening continues in the Entrance Hall of the Library with a birthday party for Shakespeare and entry to the exhibition Shakespeare in Ten Acts is also included in the ticket price.


£20 / £16 / £14


Resources listed here may include websites, bookable tours and workshops, books, loan boxes and more. You may need to scroll down or click on headers to see them all.

Campaign! Make an Impact

This national cross-curricular programme uses history to inspire young people into active citizenship. Historical campaigns inspire and teach campaign skills, enabling children and young people to run their own campaigns about issues that affect them today. It’s based around a three step model on our website.
Students can explore campaign skills, and learn how campaigners have constructed their messages in creative ways. There is guidance on how to plan and carry out your campaign.

In the Teachers and Museums section you can find out more about how the model works and how your organisation can get involved.

British Library
96 Euston Road
Greater London




Customer services


Customer Services

01937 546 546

Events Box Office

01937 546546

All information is drawn from or provided by the venues themselves and every effort is made to ensure it is correct. Please remember to double check opening hours with the venue concerned before making a special visit.