Information for visitors

The Library and Archives of the Royal Society are open to researchers and members of the public. Access is free of charge.

The Library and Archives at the Royal Society’s offices in London are open to a limited number of pre-booked readers. Opening hours are Monday 10:30am-5pm and Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm. The Library will be closed from Thursday 27 June to Friday 12 July inclusive and on Wednesday 17 and Thursday 18 July. For further information and to book, please contact us.

Our collections and research

We have extensive collections of manuscripts, papers and records, books and journals. These published finding aids may assist you in your research. We host several research projects on the history of science.

New readers

New readers are always welcome. Pre-booking is required - please contact the Library to make an appointment.

On your first visit you will need to complete the registration form (DOC) and bring proof of address (such as a utility bill) and photographic identification (such as a passport) with you.

You are welcome to contact us before your visit to ensure you get the most out of it.

Borrowing books

Books in the ‘Biography’, ‘History’, and ‘Fellows in Fiction’ sections may be borrowed for up to 21 days. Registered readers may borrow up to five books at a time.


Visitors are welcome to take their own digital photographs of material (without flash). Please complete the photography form either before or during your visit. 

Before completing the declaration and undertaking any copying of materials, please consider if the work is already available through our digital resources, including Science in the Making and Picture Library

Remote access photography requests

Digital copying of individual documents can be arranged for users unable to visit the collections and where the material has not been previously digitised and made available through our digital resources. Please complete the digital copying form and submit to along with any specific requirements. 

If an entire volume or archival series is to be copied for computational analysis, please submit a formal research proposal so that we can permit access and where necessary arrange large scale digitisation along with a data sharing agreement.

Requests may be subject to a fee. This will vary depending on the time taken to fulfil the request and the complexity of the material requested, as well as the quantity and quality of the digital copies. Please contact the Picture Library for more information. 


The licensing of images for reproduction is managed by our Picture Library, please contact for enquiries.

Internet access

Free WiFi is available and computers are provided for access to the Society's online resources.

Disabled access

The Library is located on the Lower Mezzanine floor of the building but is accessible by wheelchair. Please let us know if you have any needs in advance of your visit, so that every effort can be made to assist you.


To make a request for photocopying, please complete this photocopying copyright form (DOC).

Photocopying costs 27p per A4 sheet and 36p per A3 sheet. Payment can be made by cash, cheque or debit/credit card.

All photocopying is carried out at our discretion and is dependent on the age and condition of the material. Material over 100 years old can generally not be copied.

For external orders, there is a minimum charge of £5.00, plus an additional charge for postage and packing (£2.00 for UK orders, £3.00 for overseas). Please contact the library to place an external order.

Inter-library loans

We are able to lend monographs published post-1950. Please read our policy on inter-library loans (DOC).

Current exhibition

Clamorous Wings: birds in Science

Birds loom large in human culture: celebrated in poetry, exploited for their feathers, consumed, pestered by egg-collectors, kept as pets, and considered symbols of freedom and peace. From annual avian counts in our gardens, to contests for favourite national birds, these creatures continue to fascinate. But how have scientists tried to understand them?  This exhibition looks at attempts to classify, record, and study our feathered companions, as birds come under pressures of extinction, avian flu and other threats to their populations and diversity.