Knowledge Matters blog

Behind the scenes at the British Library

29 September 2022

Warm, safe and we also have WiFi - ways to enjoy the British Library for free

We know that many of our users and people from our local community may be experiencing the cost of living squeeze at the moment, as it gets harder for many people across the UK to make ends meet. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the Library for free, so we thought we’d share some reminders and tips on how to make the most of any visit to our St Pancras site – without opening your wallet.

Reading Rooms

If you haven’t dropped by for a while, it’s easy to forget that our warm, safe and spacious building at St Pancras is free to enter and explore. You might not realise that our Reading Rooms are also free to use – you just have to apply for a Reader Pass, and then you can visit these lovely calm oases and dive into our collections of books and materials as often as you like.

Food and drink in our foyers

It can be hard to find indoor spaces in London where you can sit without having to pay for food and drinks. But if you’re here at lunchtime, you’ll soon spot our visitors unwrapping their own sandwiches in the foyer. So don’t be shy: it’s fine for you to bring your own packed lunch to eat in the public spaces.

Our Treasures Gallery

Did you know that our Treasures Gallery is free to visit? Peek inside our permanent exhibition on the ground floor of the Library to discover a hidden gem. You really can just drop in to see the first ever collection of Shakespeare’s plays, Michelangelo’s anatomical illustrations or the desk where Jane Austen wrote her timeless novels.

Exhibitions and events

Wander through our foyers and you’ll find more free exhibitions showcasing the extraordinary items in our collections. We also host regular events, many of which don’t cost a thing, both in person and online.

You can find free events here on our website, so pop them in your diary for the chance to discover something new, ask questions and meet like-minded people.

We also regularly provide free tickets for our paid exhibitions and events to local community members. Get in touch with [email protected] to learn more, or to be added to our local newsletter.


If you’re under 25 or over 60, then you’re eligible for discounted entry to our paid events and exhibitions. We also offer discounts to students and those who are registered as unemployed.

Activities for families

A child plays at the British Library Family Station

On the last Sunday of every month, we welcome little ones and their adults to our Family Station, a colourful base from which to enjoy our building. We’ve stocked it with children’s books and activities to get you started on a free Library adventure.

That’s our best advice on how to enjoy the Library without parting ways with your cash. We hope that even if you’re feeling the pinch, a visit will brighten your day. And don’t forget – we also have free WiFi!

Apply for a Reader Pass

Visit our Treasures Gallery

Discover free exhibitions and events

Bring your family to the Library

By the Digital Engagement Team