Accessing and requesting library material

Most items can be accessed on the day, and items held in storage can be requested in advance.

There are 3 locations for the library’s collections:

  • BFI Southbank reading room. Instant access.
  • BFI Southbank closed access stack. Staff access only. Same day access.
  • BFI Conservation Centre multimedia vault. Staff access only. Advance orders essential.

Reading room access

Bound journals are filed in alphabetical order on the left side of the reading room.

Books are filed in Universal Decimal Classification shelf mark order on the right side of the reading room.

Selected new books and current journal titles are displayed around the library desk.

You are welcome to browse the shelves and remove anything you wish to consult. Shelf guides are available at the library desk.

Please return any reading room materials to the red shelving trolley when you have finished with them.

Closed access stack retrieval times

Tuesday to Friday: 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm

Saturday: 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm

Sunday and Monday: library closed

Circumstances occasionally dictate that we are not always able to offer all the listed retrieval times on a Saturday. If you are planning to visit the library on a Saturday, we recommend submitting an advance request form to ensure access.

Closed access stack requests

A maximum of 6 closed access stack items may be requested before your visit by submitting an online advance request form by 5pm the day before.

Alternatively, you may also request up to 6 items at a time from the stack in person. Fill out request slips with the relevant information and hand them to a member of library staff. Items will be retrieved at the times listed above.

The maximum waiting time on Tuesday to Friday should be no longer than 90 minutes, depending on the time you submit your order. We recommend submitting your order just before the hour to reduce your waiting time.

Items may be held at the library desk for up to 10 working days on request.

We are always updating our catalogue records — check with us on the availability of individual items before making your travel arrangements.

Multimedia vault requests

A maximum of 6 multimedia vault items can be requested before your visit, either by submitting an online advance request form, or a blue off-site request form in person.

Multimedia vault items may take up to 5 working days to arrive at BFI Southbank. You will be notified by email when your items arrive. Items will be held at BFI Southbank for a minimum of 10 working days before being returned to the multi-media vault. We can hold items for longer if you let us know.

Please be aware that due to the size and condition of many items held in the multimedia vault, we may occasionally have to refuse access. Where online or microform surrogates are available we will insist that these are used instead. This is solely in the interests of preserving the collections.