Access and study facilities

The library and archive collections are available to the public for reference use. Loans and other services are available to members and course students.

Study spaces and opening hours

We have two study spaces providing wifi, desks, PCs, a printer and scanner, and access to physical collections.

Library Reading Room

  • open Monday–Friday, 10am­–5pm
  • accessible to anyone visiting the RCP.
  • Closed 28 July - 31 August for building maintainence

Medical Education Resource Centre (MERC)

  • open Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm
  • accessible to RCP course students and RCP members only.
  • Closed Friday 28 July for a staff event
  • Closed Bank Holiday Monday 28 August

Access to up to date resources

Reference access is available to all in the Library Reading Room.

RCP members and course students may borrow items and access our ejournals, ebooks and databases.

Access to historical collections

Items in the library and archive can be viewed by the public in the Library Reading Room. 

Library catalogue records state the access restrictions for each physical copy under ‘Acess'. No notice is required for items listed as ‘Open Shelves’ or ‘On Request’. Advance notice is required for those listed as ’48 Hours’.

Research appointments are needed to view library items from before 1850 or items from the archive.

The archive catalogue is  also available via Discovery, hosted by the National Archives.

Digitised copies of books from 1780 to 1914 are now avaible internationaly as part of the UK Medical Heritage Library project. Those unavailable while digitisation takes place are marked as ‘on loan’ in the library catalogue.

Library and archive collections form the basis of exhibitions and events alongside those from the museum, whose items are also on display throughout the building. Our current exhibition is 'A cabinet of rarities’: the curious collections of Sir Thomas Browne.

Visiting to view historical resources

All visitors should go to the main reception on arrival, where they will be directed to the Library Reading Room. Photocopies can be made of items under 100 years old in good physical condition, subject to copyright regulations. Please ask staff for a permissions form.

You can take photographic images of items over 100 years old in good physical condition, subject to copyright regulations and the photography policy.

Research appointments

Appointments are available between 10am and 5pm. Advance booking is essential and we ask for at least 3 days’ notice. All visitors making research appointments must register at the start of their first visit and renew their registration annually. They must supply two forms of ID to register. Contact us for more details.

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Research guides

We produce a range of guides to support historical researchers:

Guide to family history research for medical ancestors
Guide to original resources on the history of medicine – ideal for thesis research
Guide to original resources on domestic medicine in the 17th and 18th centuries