About the Library

Reading Room, British Architectural Library, RIBA, 66 Portland Place
Welcome to the Library Entry to the British Architectural Library is free and open to all.

Image: Reading Room, British Architectural Library, RIBA

Open to the public and without charge, the British Architectural Library is the largest and most comprehensive resource in the United Kingdom for research and information on all aspects of architecture. It is regarded as the national collection on architecture in the UK. The Library was established in 1834 as part of the RIBA, and today its architectural collections are one of the top three in the world and the finest in Europe. Visit us or take part in one of our education and learning activities to discover a wealth of subjects in architecture, from prehistory to the present, encompassed by the collections which contain over four million items in a variety of languages and formats. Allied subjects such as construction, engineering, landscape architecture, interior design and decoration, planning, and construction law are also well represented. 


Library facts

  • The Library holds over 150,000 books, 2,000 periodical titles, 1 million drawings, 1.5 million archive items and 1.5 million photographs. It continues to grow with regular new acquisitions.
  • Highlights include the world's largest collection of drawings by architect Andrea Palladio, a collection of books dating back to 1478, the photographic archive of the Architectural Press, and a fragment of Sir Christopher Wren's coffin.
  • A growing online database of digitised images (numbering over 72,000 at the start of 2013) are available on RIBApix.
  • In 2004 the V&A + RIBA Architecture Partnership was created to promote the understanding and enjoyment of architecture, bringing together the RIBA Library Drawings and Archives Collections with the architectural collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
  • Since 2006 the Library has been designated as having an Outstanding Collection, recognising the national and international importance of the collections.
  • It is a fully accredited museum under the Arts Council's Accreditation Scheme, demonstrating a commitment to managing collections for the enjoyment and benefit of users.


The Library is supported by the RIBA and its members. It does not receive direct funding from central government. Nevertheless, the collections and services of the Library are available to all. Find out how you can support the RIBA and the work of the Library.


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