Using the library safely

We are so pleased to be able to welcome our readers back to the library. To keep us all safe as we do so, please carefully read the guidance below.

In this section

We're open for urgently needed books & study space. For everyone’s safety, we encourage you to #StaySafe & take a Covid test before entering the Library (up to 72hrs before arrival).

We hope to keep the library open, but opening hours may be subject to change at short notice due to changing government regulations, or if staff are required to self-isolate. We advise you to check this page before each visit.

You will need to book a seat in advance of travelling to the library – if you do not have a booking when you arrive you will be turned away.

Book a space here:

Once you have selected the date you want to book for, you will also need to click on the start time of 10am for the booking in order to book. Please take care to input your email address correctly otherwise you will not receive confirmation of your booking.

Please check that you have a current library membership before booking. There is now a requirement to add your Library membership number. If you need to register or renew, please contact the library first to do so by emailing

You can book a place up to two weeks ahead. We ask you not to book for more than two days each week, due to the reduced capacity. We will keep this under review, and may need to reduce this limit, or be able to extend it depending on the demand.

The library will be open from 10am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. If you have booked a place you can arrive at any time after 10am, and must leave by 4pm.

Most of the collections will be accessible, but if you need any books from the following areas please request them from library staff at least 24 hours before your visit:  NB Change to access to wall painting / mosaic collection see below

  • The David J Smith Mosaic Archive  (fully accessible on Fridays)
  • Classmark 133 (wall paintings/mosaics) (fully accessible on Fridays)
  • Classmark 205
  • Iclass Cupboard (the Rare Books rooms)
  • Books with the status ‘New Books’

If you need to use one of the computers in the electronic resources room, please contact library staff in advance of your visit to book this. If we have not confirmed a computer booking for you it may not be possible for you to use one when you visit.

We will need to leave the windows open to allow good ventilation within the library. Please do not close the windows. On cooler days we recommend that you bring warm clothes.

You will need to enter Senate House from the Russell Square side. The entrance via Malet Street is closed.  You may be asked to show your library card when entering the site. If you do not yet have a library card, please show your booking confirmation email.

Please come to the library entrance on the 3rd floor. The lifts can only be used by one occupant at a time, so if you are able to use the stairs please do so.

The lockers are available, and will be cleaned daily. There is a one-way system around the lockers: please respect distancing when using the lockers and wait for the space to be available before moving forward. Sanitiser and wipes are available near the lockers.

The University of London has signed up to the NHS Test and Trace system. You should see QR codes around the building that will enable you to use this if you wish to do so.

When you arrive you will need to speak to library staff at the desk to check in before entering the library.

Wear a face covering over your nose and mouth at all times when in Senate House and inside the library. If you are exempt from wearing a face covering, please let us know.

Please only sit at a desk with a chair, and do not move any of the chairs. The seating has been planned to allow correct distancing between all readers. Once you have selected a desk, please only use that desk for the duration of your visit.

The desks will be cleaned daily, and will not have been touched by anyone else since their last clean. We have also provided disinfectant wipes at each desk should you wish to wipe them down again.

When moving around the library please keep left wherever possible, and try not to pause for long in one place so as not to prevent others from getting around.

There is hand sanitiser in every room of the library. Please sanitise your hands before and after going to the shelves or using any other library equipment. After using sanitiser, please do let your hands dry fully before touching any of the books.

You are free to browse the shelves for the books you need. Please be aware of others around you when doing so, and allow 2m distance between any other readers. This may mean you need to wait a short while before accessing the shelves you need.

We advise you to use your own devices to search the catalogue wherever possible. If you are not able to do so, there will be two OPACs available in the library for searching the catalogue: by the Tract volumes in the corridor, and in Room 339 (ST.29). There will be wipes available by each machine – please sanitise your hands before using them, and wipe the area before and after use.

We regret that we are unable to provide access to the scanner for readers. Please use your own devices to make scans if you can – free software is available for most phones and tablets that will create PDF documents from images taken with the camera. If you are unable to do this, please request scans from library staff. When making your own scans, please continue to respect the limits on copying under copyright legislation.

If you would like to borrow books during your visit, please try to do so well in advance of 4pm, to avoid a long queue building up as everyone leaves.

At the end of your visit, please return your books to the shelving trolleys. We will quarantine books on the trolleys for 72 hours before reshelving them, and each shelf will be labelled with the day of the week that they were last used. If the book that you wish to read is on one of the trolleys you are welcome to use it, but please be aware that it will have been handled within the last 72 hours, and take extra hygiene precautions when handling the book.

The toilets are open, with an enhanced regular cleaning programme throughout the day. There will also be regular cleaning of touch points in the building during the day.

If you need any assistance prior to or during your visit, please do not hesitate to speak to library staff.