British Architectural Library

66 Portland Place, London W1N 4AD
Tel: +44(0)20 7580 5533

Admission: Open to the public. Proof of identity is necessary to gain entrance. Take a look at the website for further details on admissions fees and opening times.

Collections: The library’s collection covers architecture from various historical periods around the world. It contains large catalogued photographs of buildings, architecture, prints, drawings and designs.



British Museum

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
Tel: 020 7323 8299

Admission: Free (special exhibitions have a charge)

Collections: The BM has the largest and most extensive collections of worldwide ethnographic and archaeological material in Britain. 


Canning House Library

2 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PJ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7235 2303

Admission: Open to the public for reference only, through appointment by  Members may borrow books. Students, with identification, can become members on payment of a small fee.

Collections: The library holds an extensive collection of books, periodicals, films, videos and CD-Roms covering a range of disciplines within the humanities, specifically focusing on Spanish and Portuguese speaking countries.




Centre for Anthropology Library (British Museum)

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG
Tel: +44 (0)20 7323 8031

Admission: The Library is open to the public for reference and research. Fellows of the RAI are eligible to borrow items donated by the RAI.

Collections: The Centre for Anthropology is effectively Britain’s national anthropological library, with a stock of over 120,000 volumes and some 1,500 periodicals in addition to a significant Pictorial Collection. Every aspect of anthropology is covered: cultural anthropology, archaeology, biological anthropology and linguistics, and such related fields as history, sociology and description and travel. The Royal Anthropological Institute’s book collection was merged with the Museum’s in 1976. The RAI continues to support the Library through donations of books and periodicals.




Horniman Museum, Gardens and Library

100 London Road, London SE23 3PQ
Tel: 020 86991872


  The museum and library collections include thousands of titles on ethnography, anthropological objects specialising in arts and crafts, musical instruments, and natural history and world cultures.



Institute of Archaeology (University of London)

31-34 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PY
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7679 7495

Admission: Open to general public, but registration is required upon first arrival. Registration involves proof of identification and address, as well as a small service fee. For further details contact the library services at: +44 (0) 20 7679 7495

Collection: The Institute’s library has a large collection of books and periodicals covering archaeology worldwide but especially South America, Near East and China. There is also a United Site Index for archaeological sites, dissertations on microfiche, offprints, some photograph and slide collections from early 20th century. The collection is associated with University College Library. The Institute itself includes other scientific, reference and teaching materials. Visit the website for further details.




Institute for the Study of the Americas (University of London, School of Advanced Study)

Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Tel: 020 7862 8870

The Library is open for reference purposes to all academic staff and postgraduate students of the University of London, and to all other researchers from outside the university. Borrowing from the monograph collection is restricted to the Institute’s staff and students. Undergraduate students will only be admitted with a letter from either a tutor or librarian, and should check the online library catalogue to ensure they know which resources they require upon arrival. For non-students it is possible to buy a one-day membership or 7-day entrance ticket.

Collections: The institute’s library contains research and reference materials including periodicals, monographs and electronic resources. It plays a leading role in the development of Latin American collections in the University of London, and in the European coordination of documentation on Latin America. An online catalogue can be accessed through the website, as well as links to associated library collections.


Institute of Race Relations

2-6 Leeke Street, London WC1X 9HS
Tel: +44 20 7278 0623

Admission: Open to the general public for reference use with prior appointment. To arrange an appointment phone +44 20 7278 0623 or email:

Collections: The Institute’s library has moved to the University of Warwick, but the archive collection is still at the Institute.  The archive collection consists of Black History posters, leaflets, flyers and newspaper cuttings as well as journals from black community and grassroots groups in the anti-racist struggle. The collection spans from the 1950’s to 1980’s and covers topics such as black workers’ struggles for representation at work, anti-deportation campaigns, policing and racial violence, anti-fascism and uprisings.  An online catalogue of the collection can be viewed on the website.


London School of Economics (British Library of Political & Economic Science)

10 Portugal Street, London WC2A 2HD

Tel: 0171 9557229

Admission: The library has various admission procedures for each of its collections. The library is open to the general public and to people who already have an LSE library card. Visit the website to find out more about admission processes.

Collections: The Library has extensive journal and monograph holdings on social anthropology, sociology, and development studies worldwide. It also houses the archives of a number of leading anthropologists including Bronislaw Malinowski and Siegfried Nadel. Other services include access to electronic sources such as IBSS CD-ROM (International Bibliography of the Social Sciences) and the Internet.



Mary Evans Picture Library

59 Tranquil Vale, Blackheath, London SE3 0BS
Tel: +44(0)20 8318 0034  

Admission:  The library is open to professional researchers who are working on a specific project. To set up an appointment please call: 020 8318 0034 or email:

Collections: This commercial library has numerous collections of photographs and illustrations with anthropological content.



Museum of London

London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN

Admission: Free

Collections: Extensive archaeological displays of Roman and Medieval London, and a wide range of original historical material detailing the history of London and the lives of Londoners from past to present.

Workshops, lessons for school classes, and an adult lecture programme for closed groups and the general public.


National Art Library

Victoria & Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL
Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 2000

Admission:  Open to the public for reference but new users must apply for a reader’s ticket. Useful information on how to register for a reader’s ticket can be found on the website.

The library has a vast range of documentary material concerning fine and decorative arts primarily from Europe, North Africa, and Asia.



Natural History Museum

Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD
Tel: 020 79425000

Admission: Free (*there is a charge for temporary exhibitions)

Collections:  The museum collection comprises more than 70 million specimens from across the natural world, including specimens from the voyages of discovery by Darwin and Cook, material covers virtually all groups of animals, plants, minerals and fossils. The collection also includes evolution, 18th century studies of the natural world with various books and artworks that were collected at the time of the transatlantic slave trade. Anthropology, Entomology, Botany, Mineralogy and zoology are also a part of the museum collection.


The British Library

96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB
Tel for Social Science Collections: +44 (0)20 7412 7676

Admission: Open to the public, but British Library reader’s pass is needed. For further details on how to get a pass and opening times take a look at the website.

Collections: The British Library hosts an extensive collection of written material published primarily in English, from the UK and North America. There are 200 relevant reference and research books and reports as well as journals related to anthropology. The library also hosts a special collection in Indological and modern South Asian studies, especially history of India during the British colonial period.



The Foreign and Commonwealth Office Library (Historical Collection)
King’s College London

Strand, London WC2R 2LS

Admission: FCO Library and Information Services were discontinued on 31 March 2008. The library collections have been dispersed to academic institutions in London and to The National Archive, in order to make them more widely accessible to the research community. The historical collection is currently being catalogued. For queries about certain items and access to the collection at King’s College you can contact Catherine Sambroook, Special Collections Librarian at: (0)20 7848 1845 or email

  The historical collections include approximately 50,000 volumes which formed part of the Foreign Office, Colonial Office and Commonwealth Relations. Examples of historical documents include: rulebooks for colonial officials, transcripts of trials, peace treaties, government policies, and reports on trade figures.



Royal Asiatic Society Library

14 Stephenson Way, London, NW1 2HD
Tel:  +44 (0)20 7388 4539

Admission:  Although primarily for members, the library is open to non-members by appointment. To make an appointment phone +44 (0)20 7388 4539 or email:

Collections: The library consists of 80,000 volumes. It includes significant collections of manuscripts, prints & drawings on subjects ranging from art, religion, and cultural practices of Asian and Middle Eastern countries. Most of the material in the collection is historical and was donated by fellows in the 19th century.



Royal Geographical Society’s Reading Room

1 Kensington Gore, London SW7 2AR
Tel:  +44 (0)20 7591 3000

Admission:  The Reading Room is a 70 seat area, for people to consult the Royal Geographical Society’s collections. The room is open to the general public but there is a charge for people outside of formal education. Details of the registration process and fees are available on the website.

Collections:  The Society holds over 2 million items including: manuscripts, maps, journals, expedition reports and pamphlets, covering all branches of geography, exploration and travel.



School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)

Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Tel: 0171 6372388

Membership of the library is required. People other than SOAS staff and students are able to register to become members. Fees apply. For more detailed information about library membership visit the website.

Collections: The library includes social anthropological publications on all countries of Asia (including the islands of the Pacific) and Africa. It also holds print, drawing and photographic collections.



Senate House Library (University of London)

Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Tel: 020 7862 8500

Admission: Membership of the University of London is required; otherwise application should be made in writing to the Director. One-day passes may be given (payment required) on proof of identification.

Collections: The Library contains worldwide research collections on social, cultural and behavioural aspects of anthropology.



The Royal Commonwealth Society

25 Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5AP
Tel: 020 77669230

Admission: The Library & Resource Centre is free.

Collections: The collection contains visual and written documentation on topography, architecture and life of Britain’s colonial dependencies including modern Commonwealth countries. The photographs date from the mid-1850’s to the mid-1980’s and many reflect the work of those engaged in the fields of public works, medicine, surveying and education. There are over 30,000 printed items including 700 archival collections of manuscript diaries, correspondence and pictures.

Services: Books, videos, posters, audio-cassettes and CD-ROMs on all aspects of the Commonwealth, accessible freely to the public. The Library’s collection of Commonwealth literature is available on loan service throughout Britain. The Institute arranges courses for teachers, workshops and illustrated talks for schools.



Warburg Institute (University of London)

Woburn Square, London, WC1H 0AB

Admission: The library is restricted to university students, academic staff, and independent scholars. Each type of user has various regulations in order to access the library. For further information, including opening hours please visit the website.

The 350,000 or so volumes are classified in four sections: 1) social and political history;2) religion, history of science and philosophy; 3) literature, books, libraries and education; and 4) history of art and archaeology.  The material primarily focuses on Europe.