Visiting the BFI Reuben Library

How to find us, access information and how to request materials in advance.

BFI Reuben Library Christmas and New Year Closure

The last day the libray will be open is Tuesday 23 of December and we reopen on Friday 2 January. Last requests for off site material from the Multi Media Vault at Berkhamsted must be received by 5.00pm on Thursday 18 of December.

Finding us

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The BFI Reuben Library, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, South Bank, London SE1 8XT

Our huge collection of materials on film and television is available to all, free of charge. Most items can be accessed on the day, but you’ll need to request off-site materials in advance of your visit.

  • Search our collections for your choice of books, journals and other library materials.
  • Complete an advance request form for access to items which aren’t available in the Edwin Fox Foundation Reading Room.
  • For general enquires and planning your research, please get in touch using our contact form.

Opening hours

Monday Closed
Tuesday 10:30 - 19:00
Wednesday 10:30 - 19:00
Thursday 10:30 - 19:00
Friday 10:30 - 19:00
Saturday 10:30 - 19:00
Sunday Closed

We are closed on all public holidays.

Access to our special collections is by appointment, though unpublished scripts and pressbooks may be consulted during the library’s normal opening hours.

Disability access

We are committed to ensuring that all users can make full use of our services and facilities. Please feel free to contact us to discuss your access needs so that you get the most out of your visit.

Our counter is fitted with an induction loop system and we have a range of assistive technology for users whose sight is impaired. These include magnifiers of varying strengths.

Group visits

The BFI Reuben Library holds the world’s largest collection of written materials about film and television. You can also access visual content via the BFI’s Screenonline and InView platforms.

We welcome applications for study visits from schools, colleges, universities and other groups. We try to accommodate as many groups as we can but, owing to space restrictions, this is not always possible.

House rules

Before coming in to the BFI Reuben Library we request the following:

  • Leave bags, food, and drink in lockers. Please be aware we are unable to store larger rucksacks and suitcases and users will need to make alternative arrangements before arriving at the library.
  • Switch mobile phones off or to silent during your visit.
  • We don’t allow digital photography or personal scanners in the library. Please use our dedicated scanning equipment to copy material.
  • Please note that our public access computer terminals are intended solely for accessing our databases and searching our collections. At busy times usage of the terminals may be restricted.

Using the library

You’ll need to request any books and periodicals which aren’t located in the Edwin Fox Foundation Reading Room when you arrive.

You will need to complete one of our registration cards each time you visit if you wish to sit at one of our formal study desks and/or if you wish to request materials that are in our closed access stacks or held offsite.

If you wish to sit at one of our formal study desks and you have a bag larger than 30cm x 24cm, you will be asked to place it in one of our free lockers.

Closed access material will be retrieved on the hour from 11am until 6pm, Tuesday–Friday. On Saturday material will normally be retrieved at 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm and 5pm. If visiting on a Saturday, we would advise you to submit an Advance Request Form to ensure any closed access materials are available.

  • When you register, ask a member of staff at the counter for an introduction to the library, its collections and resources.
  • Search our collections to discover what materials we hold and how to access them.
  • Request items not held on open access in the Edwin Fox Foundation Reading room by filling in the appropriate request slips – limited to 5 items at a time – and handing them to a member of staff.
  • Digital photography is not permitted in the library. Please use the self-service scanners provided, for which you will need a copycard.
  • We are still updating our catalogue records so be sure to check with us on the availability of individual items before making your travel arrangements.

The maximum waiting time Tuesday-Friday should be no longer than 90 minutes, depending on the time you submit your order.

Requesting material before your visit

You can request up to five items held in our closed access stack, or off-site at the Berkhamsted mixed media vault, in advance of your visit by filling in our advance request form.

Making copies in the BFI Reuben Library

Policy and copyright

Much of the collection can be copied, but this must be within existing legal requirements.

As advised by CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) the key requirement is that only a single copy is made of any item for the purposes of private study or non-paid research.

The legal copying limits are:

  • Journal or periodical: one article from any one issue
  • Published work: one chapter or 5% of extracts

Particularly delicate material may not be available for copying. These items are usually clearly marked. Some unpublished materials, e.g. theses, cannot be copied as permission has not been granted by the author.

If you are unsure about what you may or may not copy, please ask a member of staff for guidance.

Where copying from web pages the same criteria as those stated above apply. Please respect any additional copyright notices and any copyright statements attached to individual works.

Contractual copyright conditions may also apply to material available via subscription databases.

If you need more information about specific items, please ask a member of staff when you visit.

Individual scans cost 20p, either to USB stick, or to the printer .

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