Best Libraries in London to Study
02 March, 2023
6 mins read
There is no denying that London is a city with plenty to offer! From art and architecture to culture and history, there is no shortage of attributes that make London the majestic city it is! As a world-renowned capital, London houses some of the best attractions that attract visitors from all over the world, and sometimes these attractions go beyond just museums and galleries, they also include libraries!
If you’re not interested in books, reading, or simply the architecture displayed in libraries, you probably wouldn’t know how famous London is for its libraries! Libraries in London are famous for their beautiful and majestic architecture, the stacks of books, and the calm and quiet ambience. Both students and young professionals love the library scene in London!
As a student in London who is in need of a quiet place to study, or a young professional looking for a calm place to catch up on work and find inspiration, libraries are the perfect place for you! There are plenty of libraries in London, at least one in every district, and you should not waste any opportunity to stop by them all! Today, we’re breaking down the list of the top libraries in London to study!
Best Libraries in London to Study
Let’s get acquainted with some of the must-visit libraries in London that you could work or study in, surrounded by all the books and resources you might need and the calm ambience to get you through it. So, grab your books and study materials and let us mark down all the spots you can study in London!
Known for being one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the city, The British Library is also extremely popular among students! Once you register for a Reader Pass on the library website, you can use the library’s reading rooms to study and catch up on your work in an ideal quiet and calm atmosphere. The library also boasts a stunning interior and hosts workshops, discussions, events, and exhibitions. There is also a cafe where you can grab a cup of coffee and hang out with friends, and this one does not even require a pass!
Overlooking the John Madejski Garden at the V&A, the National Art Library has the UK’s most comprehensive public reference collection of literature on the fine and decorative arts. The library is also fitted with books, journals, exhibition catalogues, online resources, and so much more. The National Art Library has valuable collections featuring medieval manuscripts and contemporary books as well as over one million books that include prints, drawings, paintings, photographs, design, metalwork, and sculpture. This library is open to the public, who can quietly browse the books and also has a reading room for students to read up on fine art and design among other things.
3. The London Library
The London Library has one of the most show-stopping collections of more than one million books dating back from the 1700s to nowadays and spread across 17 miles of shelving as well as an amazing history and is known for being one of the world’s greatest lending libraries. In 1896, the London Library’s reading room was opened by Virginia Woolf’s father and has since been worked in by numerous authors like Arthur Conan Doyle and Joseph Conrad.
The library overlooks St. James’s square and has a variety of lovely spaces for you to study or work in. The library’s relaxing atmosphere and calm ambience attract hundreds of students and young professionals to catch up on their work in one of its reading rooms, or the writer’s room, which is a unique feature of the library and one of its most used spaces.
4. Bethnal Green Library
Opened back in 1922, this library boasts rather rustic architecture while still remaining modern. Despite not being as famous and grandiose as other libraries in London, Bethnal Green Library is a great spot to work or study and is also free! This is the perfect spot to increase your productivity; it’s one of the best places to write in London, especially if you’re looking for a quiet space where no one will interrupt your flow. This library is quiet and calm, and has vast resources and facilities to help you study and help your creative juices flow!
5. Wood Green Library
This is yet another underrated entry on the list of libraries in London to study. It is not as popular or grand as other London libraries, but Wood Green Library certainly has its perks! You can get a free library card and borrow books, DVDs, and CDs. This library is also fitted with seating spaces, Wi-Fi, a quiet and calm environment, and is located next to a shopping mall, a coffee shop, and food places so you can grab whatever you want on the way or have somewhere to go during your study breaks! Did we mention it’s also free?
6. John Harvard Library
This central London library is a quiet spot in the midst of the city’s hustle and bustle. Located near The Shard, on Borough High Street, this is one of the best free public libraries in London. John Harvard Library has plenty of available resources and is fitted with everything you need to guarantee you a quiet, peaceful, and fruitful study session. There are always free spots to accommodate you, and you can even come with friends and go to the nearby restaurants and market stalls during your breaks!
Located in the heart of the Barbican Centre, this library is equipped with books, spoken word recordings, DVDs, and CDs available to be loaned to visitors. To officially become a member of the Barbican Library, you have to be living, working, or studying in the City of London or be a regular visitor to the Barbican. This library also has some unique and useful facilities for a better study experience, including music listening facilities, practice pianos, study/reading/working spaces, as well as self-service photocopying, and internet access.
8. Kensington Central Library
This wonderful and spacious library is another prominent addition to the list of best libraries in London to study. Kensington Central Library has no shortage of resources to offer the public or anyone who’s considering it as a potential study spot, these resources include computers available which you can book a maximum of one hour per day, free of charge, a lecture theatre and a meeting room available for hire by members of the public, friendly and helpful staff, and an overall quiet and peaceful environment to work or study.
This library has one of the coolest collections that are available and accessible to the public; The BFI Reuben Library houses a great collection of books, journals, as well as digitised material related to film, television, and the moving image. Most of the material can be easily accessed throughout the day, however, off-site materials need to be requested prior to your visit. The library’s Edwin Fox Foundation Reading Room is also open for those who want to make use of its premises, with a book collection that covers the history of the cinema from its origins to nowadays. This is a great place to study for students in London!
10. The Westminster Reference Library
The Westminster Reference Library is arguably one of the most beautiful and best libraries in the world; its stunning mahogany stairs and Instagram-able interior make for a great first impression. When you first set foot in this library, you’ll probably be in as much awe as you felt when you first set foot in the British Library, which says a lot. Despite having a central location in London, this is still one of the quietest spots to study. The variety of resources, the peaceful atmosphere, the central location, and the stunning ambience all make for a unique study experience at Westminster Reference Library that you should definitely experience!
London has plenty to offer and while its libraries are often overlooked, we guarantee you’ll look at them as your permanent study destination from now on! So, pack your study bag, grab your books, and set off to your chosen study spot from our carefully curated list of best, and sometimes free, libraries in London to study!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you study in the London Library for free?
Yes, all you need is a free Reader Pass, which you can easily register for. The library has a number of reading rooms that welcome anyone working on their research.
Which library is free entry in London?
Barbican and Community Libraries is the name for the City of London's public lending libraries. Anybody who lives, works or studies or is a regular visitor to the City of London is free to join these libraries.
Is it OK to study in a library?
Libraries are naturally calm and quiet spaces where you can work, study, read, or do research. You can definitely work in a library with the added plus of being surrounded by all the resources you might need and a calmness that motivates you to get things done in time.