Your membership

Inside the Library

Inside the Library

If you'd like to view some of our collection and our reading and writing spaces before you visit, take a look at our 3D tour below. Alternatively use the 'view inside' button below to view it full screen.

VIEW INSIDE

Membership number and sign-in information

In order to access the full range of electronic resources and catalogue features for example eJournals and eBooks, you will need to complete an initial sign-up process using your 5-digit membership number and the email address you registered with the Library. Please follow the instructions here to sign-up for the first time.

Once you have completed the process, you will use your email address and an 8-character (minimum) password of your choice to sign-in on subsequent occasions. Your membership number should have been sent to you in an email when you joined but should you need a reminder, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you have any problems with the sign-up process, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Your membership card

Full and Associate members will receive a membership card and information on how to use the Library on their first visit. Please bring your card with you whenever you visit as you will need it to gain access to the building, borrow books and make use of other facilities. Please bring two forms of identification with you on your first visit – one should include a photo (e.g. passport, driving licence, travel card, student card, ID card) and one should include confirmation of your current address (e.g. driving licence, recent bank statement or utility bill).

Your card remains valid for the duration of your membership. If your card is lost or stolen, please contact us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Members are welcome to sign in guests to give them a brief tour of the Library. Please sign your guest in at Reception and remain together for the duration of your tour. Please ensure that your guest also wears a face covering during the visit. 

We are currently unable to offer face-to-face inductions for new members but our Member Services team are more than happy to answer any questions that you have via phone or email. Contact them on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Borrowing Books

Borrowing books

Search the online catalogue (Catalyst) and select items to be posted to you.

You can also borrow by email by requesting items at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You can collect books at the Library or browse the stacks and take out items at the Issue Desk.

You can find detailed information on searching the catalogue, browsing and borrowing on our dedicated website page

Borrowing entitlements

The standard borrowing allowance for individual annual members is 10 books (15 for members who live more than 20 miles from the Library). This can be increased, to a maximum of 40, for a fee. Due to the coronavirus measures, all Library members have had their book allowance increased by 5. To increase your allowance further please email us on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or phone us on 020 7766 4720.

Loan periods

Most books can be kept for at least one month initially and are automatically renewed unless requested by another member. New books are available to borrow for 14 days; they may be renewed if not requested by another member.

There are no overdue fines but we do ask that books are returned to the Library for renewal once a year so that we can assess their condition. All members are liable for the full cost of replacing any books not returned or renewed on request, that are outstanding at the end of membership or if they are significantly damaged.

Postal loans

To borrow a book by post follow the instructions above on borrowing books and in the Pick Up Location menu choose 'home address'.

Materials can be posted to members worldwide, usually the cost of postage is payable but we have currently waived these charges if you have a UK address. If you need to update the address that we post to, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Returning books

You can post books back to us either to our Mason's Yard address (20 Mason's Yard, London SW1Y 6BU) or when we are closed through the letterbox at our St James's Square entrance.

Visiting the Library

Browsing the stacks and the classification system

Members are free to browse our 17 miles of bookstacks. The Library uses its own classification system which maximises the potential for browsing specific subject areas. Books are arranged alphabetically by subject and then by author. Library staff at the Issue Desk are always on hand to help members find materials and you can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for assistance.

Opening times

Our opening hours are:

  • Monday-Tuesday: 10am-9pm
  • Wednesday-Friday: 10am-5.30pm
  • Saturday: 9.30am-5.30pm

Full members may use the Library at any time, Associate members can visit after 5pm weekdays and all day Saturday.

We have bike storage at the back of the Library in Mason’s Yard, if you would like to use this please let us know in advance on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as we will need to create your membership card with special access to the bike shed in advance of your visit.

Bank Holidays

The Library building is closed on the Saturday and Monday of Bank Holiday weekends. 

Saturday 28 August 2021: Closed

Monday 30 August 2021: Closed

Reading rooms and desks

The Library has 3 reading rooms on the 1st floor above the Issue Hall, a lightwell reading room on the lower ground floor and non-silent reading rooms in the 6th Floor Suite. There are also a number of individual desks located around the stacks. We also now have a temporary reading room near the existing Art Room.

In total, 120 desks are currently available - desks and chairs are spaced in accordance with the social distancing policy being applied throughout the Library. 

Additional cleaning services are in operation and all members will need to wear a face covering, covering their nose and mouth, in all areas of the building unless exempt, regardless of whether or not you have been vaccinated. 

View a floorplan of the building.

Library Services

Book suggestions

Members can suggest books to be acquired for the Library collection by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Collection guides

Printed guides to some individual areas of the collection can be downloaded from our website.

Enquires and references

Staff are on hand to help with member enquiries, bibliographic checking and subject searching. Where enquiries fall outside the scope of the collections, staff will identify appropriate alternative libraries and collections. For assistance please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Inter-library loans

The Library participates in the Inter-Library loan scheme - requesting materials from other national and international libraries. If we do not hold something you need we may be able to borrow it on your behalf for a fee. Please note there is currently disruption to this service due to Coronavirus.

The collection and closed access areas

Members have access to all of our collections but those in closed access areas (4% of the collection) need to be requested in advance. Some of this material can be borrowed but some will need to be accessed on site. Currently these sessions will need to be arranged at least 72 hours in advance by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and can be offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 10am and 3pm.

Using our online catalogue - Catalyst

Access Catalyst from anywhere via the ‘Search the Catalogue’ link on the Library’s website. The online catalogue provides access to almost all of the physical collection and all of our digital resources. You can find videos on using Catalyst on our website.

In order to access the full range of electronic resources and catalogue features for example eJournals and eBooks, you will need to complete an initial sign-up process using your 5-digit membership number and the email address you registered with the Library. Please follow the instructions here to sign-up for the first time.

Once you have completed the process, you will use your email address and an 8-character (minimum) password of your choice to sign-in on subsequent occasions. Your membership number should have been sent to you in an email when you joined but should you need a reminder, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you have any problems with the sign-up process, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

You will find a video explaining how to use Catalyst on the homepage.

Online Resources

Members can access the Library’s extensive range of online resources in the Library and at home. Find information about our online resources here.

Books & journals

Some of the Library’s books and journals are not currently listed in the online catalogue. Titles are constantly being updated and staff are always able to assist if you are unable to find what you are looking for, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for assistance.

eJournals and databases

All of the eJournals and databases the Library subscribes to can be found by title on Catalyst, in addition to other open-access holdings.

Periodicals

The Library subscribes to over 300 online newspapers, magazines and journals as well as providing access to thousands more through services such as JSTOR. Many of these can be accessed via Catalyst and the full range can be found on the Library’s eJournals page.

Using the Library

Access requirements

Members with access requirements may contact Reception at any time on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to find out how we can meet their needs. This includes level access to the building, lifts to many of the Library’s spaces, accessible toilets, and screen readers.

Bags

We are not currently using the lockers in Reception, coat cupboards are available for members to leave bags at their own risk, alternatively members can take their bags into the Library spaces.

Lockers will once again be available from 26 July. The return of locker space means that we will reintroduce the pre-pandemic restrictions on bringing large bags into the main body of the Library.

Entering and leaving the building and the Issue Hall

We are operating a one way in/out system - please enter via St James’s Square and leave via Mason’s Yard. Mason’s Yard will no longer be an entrance route. Members requiring level access to the buildings should use the T. S. Eliot House entrance on Mason’s Yard (opposite the White Cube gallery).

To support social distancing three separate lanes have been installed in the Issue Hall.

-The Issue Desk lane is for members to collect pre-ordered books and use other Issue desk services such as book enquiries.

-A Fast Lane provides direct access into the rest of Library for members wanting to access the book stacks or desks. Members will need to give their name to Reception before entering this lane.

-The Exit Lane is for anyone leaving the building and leads to the exit via the Mason’s Yard door.

Fire

In the event of a fire alarm please follow the signs to the nearest exit and evacuate immediately or wait at the nearest refuge point and use the call button to alert staff.

Food, drink and phones

The 6th Floor Suite is a space at the top of the Library where members may relax and work in a non-silent envorment.  It is the only space in the Library where food and drink (apart from water in a secure container) may be consumed.  As the kitchen area is closed for the moment, members should plan to leave the Library for food.  Phone and video calls are only permitted in these spaces and nowhere else in the Library.  There are two phone booths available should you prefer and one of these can be booked.

WiFi and computer use

Free WiFi is located around the Library and can be accessed using a password which is available from Reception. Laptops can currently be used anywhere - plug sockets are found at most desks. Desktop computers are not currently available. Members can print to the printers in the Writers' Room and the Times Room but we are currently unable to offer other reprographic services (photocopying, scanning) or IT support.