British Library

British Library, London: Hours, Address, British Library Reviews: 4.5/5

British Library
4.5
Libraries • History Museums
9:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Monday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Tuesday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Wednesday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Thursday
9:30 AM - 8:00 PM
Friday
9:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Saturday
9:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
11:00 AM - 5:00 PM
About
Open to all visitors seven-days-a-week, this superb building by Sir Colin St John Wilson offers events, special exhibitions and a Treasures Gallery that displays over 200 items, including Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible and lyrics by the Beatles.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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The area
Address
Neighbourhood: Euston / Kings Cross /St Pancras
How to get there
  • King's Cross St. Pancras • 5 min walk
  • Euston • 6 min walk
Best nearby
We rank these restaurants and attractions by balancing reviews from our members with how close they are to this location.
Restaurants
7,472 within 5 kms
Attractions
1,485 within 5 kms
Popular mentions

4.5
3,916 reviews
Excellent
2,586
Very good
1,031
Average
215
Poor
57
Terrible
27

Mike
1 contribution
Attempt at amateur research in the British Library
Feb 2020
Many years ago, in sixth form, I visited the previous British Library, an incredible experience and a beautiful reading room. At Uni, and reading for a PhD, I regularly ordered books on ILL from the BL, they always came promptly and you seemed to be able to order anything in print, a service to be proud of. I always had a notion to become a 'reader' and go there one day to do some hobby research on various pet subjects, when time permitted.

Last year, before the pandemic, I found myself between jobs and decided to make the most of it by going up to London and doing some research for that book I'd always wanted to write. To cut a long story short, my experience of attempting to use the modern BL for personal research is:

- Rude, sarcastic and very belittling staff who gave every impression of getting amusement out of making my visit as unpleasant and unrewarding as possible.

- So many hurdles you have to leap over, no one bothers to warn you about, and which serve no discernible purpose other than to obfuscate, and deter any interested in actually using the library.

- Arcane and apparently random working hours for various offices.

- No logic, or sense to location of said offices.

- Bureaucracy gone mad! The kind of place where you need a 'form I32' filed three months ago, before you can get your 'L67b' stamped in triplicate by two high court judges, permitting you to apply for section a (but not part b) of a 'single visit toilet permission slip' which must be used on the day of application.

- Numerous 'errors' on part of staff, and lack of communication or explanation, accompanied by a petulant arrogance and lack of care, but if you (an outsider with no knowledge of their 'rules') make one little mistake through ignorance, you can expect to be sharply reprimanded.

- Overcrowded, filthy building, full of angry people shouting over each other in a dozen different languages, so it's hard even to make yourself heard to the (unfriendly and unhelpful) staff, with people sitting anywhere to eat, and leaving pools of spilt fish curry on the seats - my clothes stank.

All on top of a very hard to get to location (price for day return is extortionate, and travelling horrendously complicated) for those of us who don't live in London, the other option apparently being Yorkshire (not much use when you live in the South West, like me, but still might be easier to get to!)

End result, after several completely wasted and frustrating hours, I left feeling bitter and let down, and won't be going back.

A once great institution totally trashed by people who clearly just don't care, read the original ideals of the founders to see just how far the British Library has fallen.
Written 25 January 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Amy C
London, UK323 contributions
Its interesting
Nov 2019 • Friends
Especially the gothic exhibition of 2014 really good about horror but was too hot to enjoy in temperature
Written 24 October 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

DBH
9 contributions
Best Museum in London
Sep 2020
In my opinion, easily the best museum in London. The exhibits hold a wealth of treasures and really capture the imagination. It's also pleasant to not have the the overwhelming stench of colonialism - a rarity in London museums.
Unfortunately during my visit, general browsing and hanging around was discouraged due to Covid-19 safety measures, but you could really imagine this would be a great place to waste an afternoon!
Written 23 September 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Andrew
Baltimore, MD681 contributions
Treasures exhibit is unbelievable
Apr 2019
The Treasures exhibit at the British Library is free, and it's astounding what's in the collection. My companion was super skeptical but it ended up as one of our favorite attractions. The items on display are amazing - Da Vinci notes, handwritten Beatles lyrics, copies of the Magna Carta, a letter from Michelangelo, religious texts from all over the world. You must visit
Written 15 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

David B
3 contributions
Well worth a stop - Quick and Free
Mar 2020
We were staying next door, and it's free, so I popped in to see what it was all about. The "Treasures Gallery" was fantastic, filled with priceless beautiful and one of a kind works from all around the world.
Written 12 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

toristtorisk
London, UK21 contributions
A regular member, it never cease to please
Mar 2020
Since I moved to London I became a member of the British Library. Outstanding business resources, magnificent exhibitions and great food at the cafeteria.
Written 5 March 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Robert D
Brooklyn, New York1,445 contributions
Buddhism exhibit
Feb 2020
I enjoyed this exhibit about Buddhism. Among the items displayed were ancient texts and ritual objects.
Written 29 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Ontour
Leeds, UK102 contributions
Great
Feb 2020 • Family
Wonderful visit.
Very interesting.
We had a buggy and was fine. Access was great.
The books are just fascinating to see, it was so quiet and peaceful. Baby slept :)
Written 28 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Linda B
Daventry, UK57 contributions
Wonderful experience
Feb 2020
Went in just for a browse but were blown away with what was on display. To see the Magna Carta and original manuscripts was fantastic. The items selected all made sense in their chronological progression and the information labels were informative but not overlong or stuffy. Decent cup of coffee and free water an added bonus. A tribute to the principle of free admission. Had there been a charge I don’t think we would have gone as we wouldn’t have known the richness of what was on show. Pleased to give a good donation on exit!
Written 22 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Talented49
London, UK127 contributions
Buddhism Exhibition
Feb 2020 • Solo
As one of the worlds great religions it was interesting to learn more about its origins and various approaches
Very colourful with some very ancient scripts on display some of which despite their age looked remarkably fresh
A few artefacts scattered throughout the display ad well as information on how Buddhism has embraced modern technology
Written 20 February 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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