The British Library


The British Library is home to the world’s knowledge. Our collections of over 150 million items include treasures like Shakespeare’s First Folio, Magna Carta and Handel’s Messiah. Together they form an essential and irreplaceable resource, underpinning society’s intellectual, cultural and economic well-being.

The British Library:

  • receives a copy of every publication produced in the UK and Ireland
  • has over 150 million books, manuscripts, maps, newspapers, magazines, prints and drawings, music scores, and patents and scripts , in most known languages
  • adds over 3 million new items every year
  • has a Sound Archive with sound recordings from 19th-century cylinders to CD, DVD and MD recordings
  • houses 8 million stamps and other philatelic items
  • uses over 625 km of shelves, and grows by 12 km every year
  • has on-site space for over 1,200 readers

Funtastic facts:

  • If you see 5 items each day, it would take you over 80,000 years to see the whole of the collection
  • The world’s earliest dated printed book, the Diamond Sutra, is sometimes on display in our exhibition galleries alongside many other treasures
  • Treasures include:
    • Magna Carta
    • Lindisfarne Gospels
    • Leonardo da Vinci’s Notebook
    • The Times first edition from 18 March 1788
    • Beatles manuscripts
    • The recording of Nelson Mandela’s Rivonia trial speech
  • Holdings include:
    • Material over 3,000 years old (Chinese oracle bones) – and today’s newspapers
    • 310,000 manuscript volumes: from Jane Austen to James Joyce; Handel to the Beatles
    • 60 million patents
    • Over 4 million maps
    • Over 260,000 journal titles

The building at St Pancras


  • The largest public building constructed in the UK in the 20th century
  • The basements extend to a depth of 24.5 metres
  • A total floor area of over 112,000 sq metres spread over 14 floors – 9 above ground, 5 below
  • 10 million bricks and 180,000 tonnes of concrete were needed to complete the building

The British Library
96 Euston Road


Opening Times
Monday – 09.30 – 18.00
Tuesday – 09.30 – 20.00
Wednesday / Thursday / Friday – 09.30 – 18.00
Saturday – 09.30 – 17.00
Sunday – 11.00 – 17.00

Getting there

By train
St Pancras International
King’s Cross

By tube
King’s Cross/St Pancras
Euston Square

By bus
10, 30, 45, 46, 63, 73, 91, 205, 214, 390.

There is extensive bicycle parking with secure ‘Sheffield stands’ in covered and uncovered areas in the Piazza. Luggage can be stored free (£1 returnable deposit) in the Locker Room. The nearest cycle shop is approximately 1,500m (a mile) south, along Gray’s Inn Road.