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British Library, London

4.5
#16 of 220 in Museums in London
More than a massive repository for books, the British Library also holds significant artifacts and documents, such as the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, and an original Beatles lyrics sheet. Each year, the world's largest library adds three million new items, requiring some 9.6 km (6.0 mi) of shelf space. You obviously won't see everything on your visit, so take a guided tour to view the most important collections and learn about the building's history and architecture. The Philatelic Exhibition holds some of the world's rarest and most significant stamps; check its schedule for temporary exhibits. If you want to learn more before your visit, download podcasts from the library's website. You can also listen to presentations from past events. Use our London trip planner to add British Library and other attractions to your London vacation plans.
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British Library Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
3,008 reviews
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4.5
TripAdvisor
  • I went in because I think about libraries and already at the entrance, I was happy. Nicely built with old books visible through the glass window. It's an interesting exhibition part with old documents of various kinds, ranging from legal texts to music, the Beatles has its own booth! Well worth a visit, shorter or longer based on interest. Free entry and a nice shop.
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  • If you're in London and you're a history fan, you've got to stop in the British Library's manuscripts room to check out one of the Magna Cartas. While in the Library, just marvel at the shear size!  more »
  • The British Library is the National Library of the United Kingdom and is home to the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, where you can discover some of the most exciting and significant treasures of the world, including the Magna Carta, the First Folio of Shakespeare and the Codex Sinaiticus. There is also the manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground by Lewis Carroll, the Beatles lyrics handwritten by John Lennon, and drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. The British Library is one of the world's largest research institutions and invites you to embark on a fascinating journey through the history of the written word. Visit it!!
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  • You need at least two visits at the British Library to be able to register for a reader's pass! The first one to get proper information on the documents you need to provide for access, as there is not sufficient information on the library's website. Very low flexibility for foreign students, who usually don't take documentation of their home address with them !!! if you're from a country where you usually don't need to provide proof of your home address you definitely have to calculate on extra efforts. Very disappointing how students who are in urgent need of resources are being treated and turned down.
  • lovely staff made our forlorn harry potter hopes come true, with a miracle of day walk-in tickets; the exhibition was rich, atmospheric, nicely laid out with a couple of superb interactive games, a fair balance for smaller kin fare and actual scholarly interest, incl. a Leonardo manuscript and a surfeit of mediaeval illustrations. no pictures allowed, thus here's some brochure scans and an artist's impression..
  • An excellent place for any sort of research or just to visit for exhibitions and displays. If you want to use the reading rooms you will need to get a readers ticket, so take ID if you think you'll want to see any books or other original materials. Some items are stored off site so always check before you go. Staff are friendly and helpful and the building is fantastic. I'd give it 5 stars if I could, however on my last visit a lot of lockers were out of use as the keys were missing or the digital lock appeared faulty. Definitely the best library in London though.
  • Great place to work. Right off the tube stop, and has comfy chairs, lit tables, and reading rooms. Can access even as a visitor. And also can easily register to access reader's rooms.
  • Worst internet I have ever experienced! If you need internet while studying do not go there! It doesn‘t matter if you use eduroam, bl visitor or your mobile hotspot, NOTHING WORKS properly! It is a shame... It is London, not Antarctica. Should not be that difficult!

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Where to stay in London

Many of London's main attractions are spread out, so nearby public transportation is key. There is no downtown area as such in London, and some of the least expensive hotels have more convenient access to tourist sites than the costlier ones. For a quintessential London experience, consider staying in the West End. This part of town offers excellent theaters, historical sites, and eating and shopping options for every taste. Lodging won’t be cheap, but you’ll have the colorful variety of London life right at your doorstep. Look at Notting Hill or Chelsea for charming and less expensive boutique hotels and B&Bs.
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