The National Archives

Contact details

Website: Email: Tel: +44 (0)208 876 3444 ext 2564

A view across the fountain to the main entrance at The National Archives, Kew.

Image from The National Archives, under CC-BY

About the library

The National Archives Library has existed since approximately 1850 and has been open to the public since 1997. It acts primarily as a research library to users of the document archive collection at The National Archives.

The majority of the collection is housed on open access in the main library and consists of roughly 65,000 volumes..

Some material is held off-site and can be requested. It will be available to view within three working days. This will be indicated in the holdings note.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • Excellent English topography collection including complete runs of several local record society series.
  • Wide-ranging coverage of all periods of British history.
  • Extensive British Army, Navy and Air Force material especially World War One and Two.
  • A large genealogy section that includes Post Office directories, Harleian Society publications and other directories such as the Law List and Medical Directory
  • A selection of online resources such as State Papers Online, Parliamentary Papers and British History Online.  These can be accessed by onsite visitors only.
  • A collection of pre-1800 publications covering a wide range of subjects.

The library collection is open-access and open to all users of The National Archives.

The full local library catalogue is available online.

Accessing materials

Can I see live document availability on Copac? No.

Can I obtain items via Inter Library Loan? No, unfortunately we cannot supply inter-library loans.

Can I visit the library to view materials?Yes. The library is open to the public but a reader's ticket is needed to view rare books in our collection.

Can I borrow books and take them off site? No. The library at the National Archives is for reference use only.

For more information on accessing the National Archives, including the Library, please visit:


The National Archives Library data on Copac

Example record from the The National Archives Library:

Title: Modus legendi abbreviaturas : passim in iure tam civili quam pontificio occurentes, nunc primum integritati suae restitutus. Huic accessere, tituli, quae & rubricaenuncupantur, in uniuersum ius civile, ex haloandri recognitione adscripti.
  Published: Lugduni : Sub Scuto Coloniensi 1544

You can browse all the titles on Copac starting with the above title.