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Information for visitors

The Library and Archives at the Royal Society's offices in London are open to researchers and members of the public. Access is free of charge.

Library opening hours

Open: 10am - 5pm Monday to Friday 

Please read the Rules for readers (PDF) before visiting.

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 and it is not necessary 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.

Readers are asked to apply for a Reader ID card (PDF) before items are issued. Card-holders may borrow up to 5 books at a time.


Visitors are welcome to take their own digital photographs of material (without flash). Please complete this photography form (DOC) beforehand.

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

Fiery Earth: the volcano and the Royal Society

In 1883, the island of Krakatoa erupted in a series of cataclysmic volcanic explosions and the after-effects were experienced across the world. This exhibition looks at how natural philosophers struggled up to this point to understand volcanoes and why Krakatoa gave urgency to discovering more about our planet – for what happens deep beneath the Earth’s surface has consequences for us all.

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