Library 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 Wi-Fi, desks, PCs, a printer and scanner, and access to physical collections.

Library Reading Room

Medical Education Resource Centre (MERC)

  • open Monday–Friday, 9am–5pm
  • accessible to RCP course students and RCP members only.

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. 

All items in the archive catalogue require research appointments to view, as do library items from before 1850.  Library catalogue records state the access restrictions for each physical copy under ‘Access':

  • No notice is required for items listed as ‘Open Shelves’ or ‘On Request’.
  • Advance notice is required for those listed as ’48 Hours’.

Digitised copies of books from 1780 to 1914 are now avaible internationaly as part of the UK Medical Heritage Library project. 

Books unavailable due to ongoing digitisation work are marked as ‘on loan’ in the library catalogue.

Library and archive collections join the museum collections in forming the basis of exhibitions and events. Our current exhibition is Ceaseless motion: William Harvey's experiments in circulation.

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.

Terms of access 245.39 KB

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