Book Library Admissions

Visitor Admissions

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About the Book Library

Visitor Admissions

The Book Library at the Courtauld Institute of Art is a specialist library within the University of London, and is a last-resort reference library for research in the field of art history. It is not a public library, but exists primarily to provide a service to the Institute’s undergraduate and postgraduate students and academic staff, and to visiting scholars and researchers both from within and outside the University who cannot obtain the material they require elsewhere.

Please note:

  • There are no borrowing facilities for external readers except those with a valid SCONUL Access Band A card.
  • The Courtauld Institute Library is one of a number of art historical resources, and users should explore alternative sources for the information they require.
  • Library staff may need to advise some external readers that their needs can be better met in another or different kind of library, or through the inter-library loan service of their “home” library.
  • The Library does not provide a service for general enquiries and is not appropriate for use by ‘A’ level or other students below undergraduate level.
  • Librarians will advise on library use and give concise guidance regarding enquiries. Short enquiries can be dealt with by post, but please note that extensive or complex searches must be undertaken by the individual researcher.
  • Seating is limited: please phone or write before coming to the library in person.
  • At busy periods, access to non-Institute members may have to be restricted.
  • Wheelchair users should phone ahead so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

Admission Policy

The Courtauld Library aims to provide access to readers whose research needs cannot be met by other sources available to them, in particular:

  • Scholars affiliated to academic institutions and engaged in research
  • Students doing original research who have been unable to find an alternative location for specific texts

Taught course material for undergraduate and other students must be sought in the relevant home library. The Library reserves the right to refuse entry to visitors at busy times.


Borrowing is permitted for the following categories:

  • Courtauld staff and students
  • Holders of a valid SCONUL Access Band A card

Reference Only Access

is permitted for the following categories:

  • Academic Staff
  • Research postgraduates (PhD, MPhil)
  • Taught postgraduates (MA) in History of Art from other colleges of the University of London
  • Former Courtauld students
  • Public Museums and galleries staff
  • Corporate & Associate Friends

Last Resort Access

is permitted for:

  • All other users on a one-day card on a last resort basis. This implies that specific items are being sought, and that the reader has tried other libraries without success. (eg. Senate House and the National Art Library)
  • Undergraduate and taught postgraduate students (BA, PgDip, MA) researching for a dissertation in an appropriate subject may have their card extended, for the period of their research, on production of a tutor’s letter.

Please note: the Library does not participate in the SCONUL vacation scheme.

Readers’ Tickets

External readers are asked to complete a reader registration card, indicating their research interest, on their first visit.

Readers’ tickets are issued for a period of time appropriate to the research need. The maximum expiry date is until the end of the academic year. Tickets may be extended in appropriate circumstances but previous issue of a reader’s ticket does not guarantee automatic renewal.

All visiting readers will need to scan their card at the turnstiles to enter and leave the library. One-day tickets should be returned at the end of the day.

Please note that during term-time we can only register visitors between 9.30am and 6.50pm. After 7.00pm a reading room only service is in operation. Visitors must be present in the library in order to stay beyond 7.00pm.

Click here for further details of opening hours.

SCONUL Access Band A Borrowing Scheme

Holders of a valid SCONUL Access Band A card may register to borrow at the Courtauld Institute Book Library.

Please bring your SCONUL Access Band A card and your library/ID card (from your home institution) along with you.

Click here for further details of the scheme.

Libraries & Learners in London Scheme

Members of the public may apply via their local public library to this referral scheme. This scheme enables members of the public to gain approved access to Higher Education collections that would normally be inaccessible to them.

Click here for further details.

University of London Students

The Library participates in the University of London Libraries Access Agreement and therefore admits on a day pass University of London undergraduate and postgraduate students who demonstrate a need to consult material held at the Library. Undergraduate and taught postgraduate students (BA, PGDip, MA) researching for a dissertation in an appropriate subject may have their card extended, for the period of their research, on production of a tutor’s letter.

The services available for the University of London students are:

  • Reference use of books on the open shelves excluding books in the short loan collection
  • Reference use of Special collection and Closed Access (CABS) books when the relevant formalities have been followed (e.g. CABS form completed ahead of the collection times)
  • Photocopying in accordance to the Library’s guidelines
  • Access to Electronic resources at our visitors’ PC in the catalogue hall.

The library reserves the right to refuse visitors at any time.


Book Library
Tel +44 (0)20 3947 7630

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