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Although lectures and seminars are an essential element of your course, success in learning depends largely on the reading and research that you undertake independently. Most items on module reading lists can be found in Birkbeck Library and it is important that you familiarise yourself with the Library as soon as you can. At postgraduate level, you will also be expected to use other libraries during your studies.

Birkbeck Library

The entrance to Birkbeck Library is on the ground floor of the main building in Malet Street (entrance on Torrington Square). Your College ID card gives you automatic access to the Library. There is no need to register. The opening times of the Library are designed to meet the needs of part-time students in full-time work. During term-time, the Library is open 7 days a week from 8.30am to 11.45pm.

Rights and responsibilities

You can borrow up to 15 items and they can be renewed as long as no-one else requests them. Most books can be borrowed for 3 weeks. Some books and DVDs can be borrowed for 1 week. A few items can only be issued for 1 day. There is also a Reading Room Collection with reference access to key course readings.

Please be a responsible Library user. The smooth running of the Library depends on your co-operation. Please renew or return items promptly, especially if someone else has requested them. If you fail to return items on time you will incur fines and your borrowing rights will be suspended. Students who have overdue items at the end of the academic year will have examination results withheld until they return the items.

Accessing resources from your PC

You can access a whole host of electronic journals and databases from any PC in College. These resources can also be accessed from outside College with your IT Services (ITS) username and password.

As well as giving comprehensive information about the Library’s services and collections, you can also:

  • Search the Library catalogue, renew your books and place reservations on items that are out on loan.
  • Read articles in over 28,000 electronic journal titles and newspapers.
  • Search databases to help you find out what has been written about the subject you are researching, including ABI-INFORM Global, Business Source Premier, Nexis UK and the Social Sciences Citation Index.
  • Access past exam papers.
  • Work through LIFE – an online tutorial to help you make the most of the Library.

Disability assistance

Birkbeck Library aims to be accessible and convenient for all and offers a range of services and equipment designed to meet the needs of Library users with disabilities. This includes postal loans, one-to-one help with Subject Librarians, leaflets in alternative formats, a CCTV magnification system, writing slopes and orthopaedic chairs.

For full details of our services and equipment, please visit the online guide or contact

If you have particular difficulty in accessing the Library, you may benefit from using the LAMP Service (Library Materials by Post) which provides extended loans, postal loans for books and photocopies of journal articles and a book fetching service. LAMP is free to students who have registered their disability with the Birkbeck Disability Office.

Other libraries

Birkbeck students can also use a range of other libraries. Students have reference access to many University of London college libraries. In addition, postgraduate students can join the SCONUL Access Scheme which allows access to most other higher education libraries with limited borrowing rights.