Skip to main content

Find out everything you need to know about Search Engine, our dedicated library and archive centre, before you visit.

Before you visit

Visiting in person

Visitors to Search Engine can consult over 25,000 books and journals, as well as our world-class archive collection that includes around 1 million engineering drawings, 11,000 posters, 2,300 prints and drawings, 1,000 paintings, and 1,750,000 photographs.

You don't need an appointment for browsing most of our library collections. If you wish to view archives or rare books, we suggest you book ahead giving us notice of at least a week.

Access and facilities

Search Engine is easily accessible to visitors via stairs or the lift in the corner of Great Hall, near the information point.

Reader registration and access to archives

To make a booking or to enquire about access to archival material, please email, giving at least a week's notice before your visit. Emails will be responded to as soon as possible on the days Search Engine is open.

Access to archive material is via our supervised research rooms in Search Engine. On your first visit you'll need to bring one form of identification with you (e.g. a passport or driving license) so we can register you as an archive user. You can initially book up to six archive items (boxes, drawings/drawing rolls, documents), plus another three items throughout the course of the day at our timed retrievals from the stores.

Using the research room


Depending on the type of material you may be able to use the self-service photocopier during your visit—please check with a member of staff. You can also order photocopies from home via our copying service.


We offer a free enquiry service to help you find out what’s in our collections and direct you towards resources that may help with your research. You can email us at—we respond to enquiries within 20 working days.

You can also look through our Research Help section, where you'll find lots of resources which may help with your research.

The Search Engine team can't carry out research for you, but if you are unable to visit, you may be interested in our Inreach service.

Inreach service

Our team of Inreach volunteers can undertake research in our library and archives on your behalf. They charge £25 for half a day's research, which goes towards funding improved access to our archive collections. The Inreach team can also copy documents for you, subject to the normal copying service terms and conditions.

If you would like to make use of the service, please complete the Inreach quote form and send it to Include as much detail as possible, and allow up to four weeks for an initial response (we'll aim to get back to you sooner).

Inreach terms and conditions