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  • Using the Reading Rooms from 8 December 2020

    People sitting in a Reading Room

    We’re back, and we can’t wait to see you again.

    Our Reading Rooms in St Pancras will reopen on Tuesday 8 December. We're confirming whether we will be able to open our Reading Room in Boston Spa, in light of the Tier 3 restrictions that apply there. We'll update you as soon as we can.

    Reading Room, Reader Registration and public desk tickets will be available from 11.00 on Thursday 3 December for visits between Tuesday 8 December and Saturday 9 January, to give you time to plan your research over the Christmas period.

    Opening hours 

    St Pancras

    Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 10.30 – 15.30
    Wednesday and Thursday 10.30 – 19.30 (Maps and Manuscripts will close at 15.30 on these days.)

    Boston Spa

    Tuesday - Friday 10.30 – 15.30 

    We're confirming whether we will be able to open our Reading Room in Boston Spa, in light of the Tier 3 restrictions that apply there. We'll update you as soon as we can.

    The Library will be closed at both sites from 21 – 28 December 2020 and on 1 January 2021.

    Visiting the Reading Rooms

    To return to the Reading Rooms, you will need to:

    • Have a Reader Pass with an expiry date of or after 18 March 2020
    • Book a Reading Rooms slot online. Please note you can only book a slot for yourself, and please only book the slots you need to give more researchers the opportunity to attend. Booked slots are for four hours from the start time on your ticket
    • Wear a face covering at all times to keep everyone safe. Please let a member of staff know if you are exempt, or we may ask you to leave
    • Book your Reading Rooms slot before you order collection items to consult. Make sure you do it this way round or your items might be ordered for the wrong date. You can order up to eight collection items (or up to four manuscripts). Some collection items can only be consulted in specific Reading Rooms, so please check before you book. If you would like to reserve any items to consult again, just let our staff know. You can reserve items for up to five working days
    • Order collection items at least 48 hours before your booked slot. Please find item ordering deadlines below, according to the day of your visit
    If you book a desk for:  you need to order your items by the end of the previous 
    Tuesday Thursday
    Wednesday  Sunday 
    Thursday Tuesday 
    Friday Wednesday 
    Saturday Wednesday 

    If you’re ordering for Saturday 2 January please note you will need to order collection items by Tuesday 29 December.

    Please don’t come to the Library if you feel unwell. If you’re unable to attend, please let our customer services team know at customer-services@bl.uk as soon as possible so they can reallocate your ticket. 

    Book here for:

    Book here for anything else you would like to do at the Library, including our exhibition galleries, Members’ Room and public desks.

    Reading Room tickets for visits between Tuesday 8 December – Saturday 9 January will be available from 11.00 on Thursday 3 December.

    The next batch of Reading Room tickets will then be released on Thursday 7 January 2021.

    Our Box Office may be busy when tickets are released so please bear with us if you aren’t able to book a slot right away, and check back for returns.

    We really appreciate your patience while we work hard to welcome you back safely.

     

    Who can attend? 

    • You can visit the Reading Rooms if you have either:
      • an in date Reader Pass 
      • a Reader Pass that has expired since 18 March 2020
    • If your Reader Pass has expired, you will need to extend your Online Account to order collection items. Please follow the instructions here to do so. 
    • Reader Registration is now open for both renewals and new Reader Passes. You must book an appointment

    Everything you need to know

    How to book a Reading Room slot

    • Book your slot before you order collection items
    • Reading Rooms slots are booked using our online Box Office. If you haven’t booked a ticket from the Library before, you will need to register. This is different from your Reader account
    • Make sure you book the correct Reading Room for the collection items you wish to consult, e.g. if you are ordering newspapers you must book a space in our Newsroom in St Pancras or Boston Spa. If you’re unsure which Reading Room your item can be consulted in, you can find out in Explore the British Library. Please double check this before you book

    Using our Box Office

    1. Select the Reading Room you wish to book for below when tickets are released
    2. Check you are booking the right Reading Room for the collection items you want to order
    3. Pick a date and time slot from the list 
    4. Select 1 ticket and add to the basket. You can only book for yourself. Tickets are free 
    5. Proceed to checkout
    6. If you have bought a ticket from our Box Office in the past, enter your details to log in. If you have forgotten your password you can request an email to reset it. This account is different to your Reader account. If you are new to the Box Office, you will need to register
    7. Accept our terms and conditions. This includes our COVID-19 declaration that you will not come to the Library if you are suffering from symptoms or have been instructed to self-isolate
    8. Check your order and complete your booking 
    9. You will be emailed a confirmation and print at home ticket. You will need to bring your ticket with you. Please either print this out or show it on a mobile device on the day.

    Ordering collection items

    • You won’t be able to order collection items on the day, so you need to request them at least 48 hours in advance of your pre-booked visit. The table at the top of this page shows the deadlines for item ordering, according to the day of your visit
    • You can order up to eight collection items per booked slot or up to four manuscripts. Use our catalogues Explore the British Library or Explore Archives and Manuscripts to order your items 
    • If you only want to view electronic items via the Reading Room PCs, you don’t need to book this in advance but you will still need a Reading Room ticket

    Most importantly, please check My Reading Room Requests before you set off to the Library to make sure your items have arrived.

    What to bring

    • Your Reader Pass and Reading Room ticket (we’ll email this to you)
    • A face covering, which you must wear at all times including at your desk in the Reading Room. Please let a member of staff know if you're exempt, or we may ask you to leave
    • Only essential items in a clear plastic bag. Clear plastic bags will be available on the day if you don’t have one
    • If you need to bring more, the Cloakroom and Locker Room will be available as usual for small bags and coats. Please clean your locker with the wipes provided after use

    When you get to St Pancras

    • Entry to the Library will be at Gate 2 on Ossulston Street. Please arrive no more than 30 minutes before the start time on your ticket, so we can manage social distancing in the queue. The queue may take up to 30 minutes
    • You’ll need to show both your Reader Pass and your Reading Room ticket at Gate 2
    • There will be a one-way system across the Piazza and around the Library. This might take a little longer but it’s keeping everyone safe. This route will take you past the Cloakroom and Locker Room
    • You’ll need to pass through Security at the Main Entrance. Security may need to check your bag and will do so with minimal contact
    • Your booking will be for a specific Reading Room so please follow the signs. 

    In the Reading Rooms at St Pancras 

    • We’re limiting the number of Readers in the Reading Rooms to keep everyone safe
    • When you arrive at the Reading Room, you’ll need to show your Reader Pass and Reading Room ticket to Security
    • You’ll be directed to the Issue Desk where you’ll be given your desk allocation. We’re allocating desks to keep a safe distance between Readers
    • If you’ve ordered collection items, you can also collect these from the Issue Desk
    • If you need to use a PC these will be spaced out too, with wipes provided to keep them clean
    • Self-service copying will be available, with payment by card only. Staff won’t be able to assist at the moment
    • Materials on open shelves in the Reading Rooms will not be accessible
    • If you have a reference enquiry, ask our Reference Specialists in the Reading Rooms or contact them via QuickChat or email

    Other facilities at St Pancras

    • Our toilets will be open, with enhanced cleaning procedures in place
    • The King’s Library Café on Floor 1 will be be open for hot and cold drinks and food
    • We have switched off the water fountains for hygiene reasons. You can bring a filled bottle of water with you, or drinks will be available to purchase from the King’s Library Café. Normal Reading Room guidelines apply and drinks will need to be stored in the Cloakroom or Locker Room
    • The main shop and Bookshop will be open on the Ground Floor as you exit
    • We’ve gone cashless and will be accepting card payments only
    • No smoking is permitted anywhere on the St Pancras site, including the Piazza.

    When you get to Boston Spa

    • You’ll need to show both your Reader Pass and your Reading Room ticket at the Security kiosk at the entrance to the visitor car park
    • Free parking will be available as usual
    • There will be a one-way system in Reception and into the Reading Room, please follow the signs
    • You won’t need to sign in, but you will need to show your Reader Pass and Reading Room ticket at Reception
    • The toilets will be open as usual, with enhanced cleaning procedures in place
    • The water fountain will be available to use, please follow the instructional signage
    • Unfortunately we aren’t able to open the vending machine at Boston Spa at the moment.

    In the Reading Room at Boston Spa

    • We’re limiting the number of Readers in the Reading Room to keep everyone safe
    • When you arrive at the Reading Room you will be directed to an allocated desk, where your pre-ordered collection items will be waiting. Please leave the collection items on the desk when you are finished
    • If you need to use a PC, these will be spaced out, with wipes provided to keep them clean
    • Self-service copying will be available, with payment by card only. Staff won’t be able to assist at the moment.

    If you have a disability or access requirements  

    • Please let us know before you visit by emailing disability-support-officer@bl.uk
    • When you arrive, make yourself known to Security staff at Gate 2 who will arrange assistance 
    • If you will be accompanied by an assistant or carer, they will also need to have a Reader Pass (with an expiry date on or after 18 March 2020) and a Reading Room ticket to enter the buildings. Please contact disability-support-officer@bl.uk for more information
    • Find out more about accessibility at the Library.

    Keeping everyone safe  

    • Face coverings must be worn at all times, including at your desk in the Reading Room. Please let a member of staff know if you're exempt, or we may ask you to leave
    • Our one-way system helps everyone stay safe by social distancing. We’ve added markers throughout the Library to help you keep a safe distance 
    • Please ensure you wash your hands frequently and use our hand sanitisers where available
    • Please don’t come to the Library if you feel unwell

    Need help?

    Our customer services team can be reached by email at customer-services@bl.uk or 01937 546060.

    Data Protection and Track & Trace

    In addition to collecting contact details as part of our normal booking process, we will also be recording the times that users enter and leave our premises in order to reduce the risk of a local outbreak of coronavirus.

    In line with guidance issued by the Department for Health and Social Care, we will keep these details for 21 days. We will share your contact details with Test and Trace personnel, if asked, in the event of a fellow user or staff member testing positive for coronavirus.

    Your data will be kept secure and handled in line with ethical standards and the Data Protection Act at every stage of the process – from its collection and storage by us to its transfer and use by NHS Test and Trace. NHS Test and Trace will handle all data according to the highest ethical and security standards and it will be used only for NHS care, management, evaluation and research.

    The Library’s Privacy Policy can be found on our website. 

    Good to Go approval logo

    We’ve been awarded the Industry Standard mark which means we are following government and industry COVID-19 guidelines to maintain cleanliness and aid social distancing.

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