Visiting the BFI Reuben Library

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

Finding us

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

COVID-19: The library is closed until further notice and we apologise for the impact this will have to your research needs.

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. There are occasional venue closures during the year. Please check back at this page before you visit if making a special journey.

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 (minimum one-day notice required, dependent on the location of the material).
  • For general enquires and planning your research, please get in touch using our contact form.

Using the library

House rules

The following rules are in the interests of preserving and protecting our collections, and encouraging a pleasant study environment for all. They are a condition of using the library.

Unlike the rest of the BFI Southbank building, food and drink is not permitted in the Edwin Fox Foundation Reading Room. Drinking water is permitted but must be in a sealed container, i.e. a bottle or flask.

You must complete a registration form, and place your bags and other belongings in a locker if you wish to:

  • Use a research desk
  • Consult any material from the Closed Access Stack or Multi Media Vault.

Bags larger than 30cm x 24cm must be placed in a locker. This includes handbags and laptop bags. Please be aware we are unable to store large rucksacks and suitcases and you are advised to make alternative arrangements before arriving at the library.

Please switch mobile phones off or to silent during your visit, and be mindful of headphone noise and conversation levels.

Digital photography and personal scanners are not permitted in the library. Please use our self-service scanning equipment to copy eligible material.

Our public access computer terminals are intended solely for accessing our databases and searching our collections. Please be considerate of your fellow researchers’ needs and limit your usage to an hour at busy times.

The BFI Reuben Library is a reference library. Under no circumstances may library materials be removed from the reading room.

Please treat library materials with care, and note that not all material can be copied in the interests of preserving the collection. If you are unsure, please ask a member of library staff for guidance.

Please bring any existing damage to the attention of library staff.

If you require help in handling an item that is particularly large or fragile, please ask a member of library staff for assistance. We can provide book supports and weights to assist you.

If an item you require is on a high shelf, please ask a member of staff to retrieve it for you.

Requesting materials

There are three 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 – Multi Media 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 UDC 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 at your leisure and remove anything you wish to consult. Shelf guides are available at the library desk to help you.

If you require help in finding an item, please ask a member of library staff to assist you.

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

Closed Access Stack retrieval times

Tuesday-Friday – 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm.

Saturday – 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm, 4pm, 5pm.

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 five 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 five items at a time from the stack in person. Simply fill out request slips with the relevant information and hand them to a member of library staff on duty. Items will be retrieved at the times listed above.

The maximum waiting time Tuesday-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 so be sure to check with us on the availability of individual items before making your travel arrangements.

Multi Media Vault requests

A maximum of five Multi Media Vault items can be requested before your visit, either by submitting an online advance request form, or a blue offsite request form in person.

Multi Media 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 Multi Media 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.

Disability access

We are committed to ensuring that all users can make as full a use of our services and facilities as possible. Our library desk is fitted with an induction loop system and we have a range of assistive technology for users whose sight is impaired, including magnifiers of varying strengths.

We’d like to ensure you get the most out of your visit. To discuss your access requirements, please contact us using the form at the top of this page.

Making copies in the BFI Reuben Library

Self-service book scanners and printing

The library has 3 self-service book scanners and 3 digital microform readers available.

Copies may be saved to USB or printed (only B&W A4 printing is available).

It is also possible to print some pages and documents from our research terminals. However, saving to USB from these terminals is not possible.

Copying/scanning charges

To make copies you will need to purchase a rechargeable copycard at the library desk. You can then charge this card with copy credit. We sell copy credit in bundles of five.

Copycard £1

Minimum copying credit £1 for 5 copies (20p per scan)

1 x A4 page / 1 x digital image £0.20p

Policy and copyright

Much of the collection can be copied, but this is subject to size and condition, and must be within existing legal requirements.

Current CILIP (Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals) guidelines state that:

You may make a single print or digital copy of anything in copyright for:

  • Non-commercial private study or research
  • Illustration for instruction or teaching.

And for:

  • Quoting from a work
  • Caricature, parody or pastiche
  • News reporting, except for photographs

The amount you copy must be “fair and justifiable”

  • You must not reproduce the copy, sell it or share it online
  • You must acknowledge the source where reasonably practical

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 suitable 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.

For further information about copyright:

Lost Property

Any personal items left in the library or the library lockers at the end of the day are passed to Security. The Security Office is situated opposite the entrance to NFT 2 or you can call on 0207 815 1355.

Read more

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  • Can’t visit in person?

    You can use our Digital Library on Demand service to request scans of book chapters or journal articles from our collections.

Make a request

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