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Visiting the Reading Room at Boston Spa

Posted on 6 April 2022

The British Library welcomes all researchers to its Reading Room sites, and here in York we are lucky to be close to its unique Yorkshire site at Boston Spa. The University Library has recently restarted the free, weekly minibus to the Boston Spa Reading Room, and we want to take the opportunity to tell you more about this great service.

The British Library is a treasure trove of global curiosity and wonder, and is suited to all researcher needs. Its Reading Rooms allow direct access to millions of British Library items in print and electronic formats, with 85% of the London Reading Rooms collection available to be transferred and viewed at Boston Spa through prior request. Items in the Reading Room are reference only, but the room is fully equipped with all study needs. This includes WiFi, lockers and there is also an onsite cafe for study breaks. 

Materials to work with include:

  • books (dating back to 1801), 
  • journals (which are in a variety of languages and subjects), 
  • newspapers (microfilmed & print)
  • Music scores
  • General reference collections of London and Yorkshire
  • Document Supply collections

There is also a large collection of electronic resources which can only be accessed through the Reading Room terminals. 

You can browse the full collection and request items for viewing at the Boston Spa Reading Room through the British Library catalogue: Explore the British Library.

The University Library’s minibus service to Boston Spa offers an alternative environment of study away from campus and enables all University of York staff and students to have a wider range of access to materials.

The service operates on alternate Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the year, and allows a full day at the Reading Room. It sets off at 9.30am sharp from the Information Centre Car Park on Campus West and leaves the Boston Spa Reading Room at approximately 4.15pm. Desks at the Reading Room do not need to be booked, however spaces for the minibus need to be reserved. Spaces are limited and go fast, and they need to be booked one week before the journey.  Browse and reserve a seat here.

If you want to use physical British Library items you’ll need to request these no later than 48 hours before the journey to ensure the items will be waiting for you. There is a daily limit of 10 item requests. 

While the Reading Rooms are open to the public you do need to have a British Library Reader Pass in order to request material and access the room. If it’s your first visit we recommend that you pre-register online in advance of your trip, and complete the registration in person when you arrive (make sure you bring the required documentation). Pre-registration is required if you wish to request physical items for your visit.

To pre-register and gain a Reader Pass, follow the Pre-register Online steps here.

If you have any questions about this service, please contact