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Library Guides

School of Arts Library Guide: Other libraries


This page highlights key information about accessing other libraries.  It is aimed at final year undergraduate students and above, but other students may find it useful.  It also includes information about accessing archives, and provides links to some free-to-access digital libraries, and information about other open-access sources, including theses.

Union catalogues

Libraries often contribute to 'union catalogues' which bring together collections from a number of libraries into one search interface.  Examples below:

  • Library Hub Discover - giving you access to details of materials held in many UK national, academic and specialist libraries.
  • WorldCat - international search

Inter-Library Loan Service

Books or articles not in our collections can normally be easily obtained through the inter-library loan service as long as they are available somewhere in the UK.  This is a free service at the University of Westminster.  While the library remains closed we can only supply these if they are available online.

Sconul Access Scheme

Most university libraries can be accessed with a card from Sconul Access at any time of year, or without a card as part of the summer vacation access scheme.  

UCL library (which houses collections for the Slade School of Fine Art) only participates in the summer vacation scheme

Some libraries ask you to make an appointment before visiting.  These include the following:

Check individual institutions websites before visiting.

Most universities will also allow you to access their Eduroam wifi network.

Other libraries

Specialist libraries and archives

Central London has many specialist libraries and archives that are relevant for arts subjects.  These include the following:

These specialist libraries are free to access on a reference only basis - check their websites for details.

Museum libraries

There are libraries associated with major museums, which may be useful for specialist research..  Examples include:

British Library

The British Library has access to any book published in the UK, including many rarities.  Please note that you have to pre-order books, so they can be transferred to the reading rooms in London and can only be used in the reading rooms. 

Find out more about: newspaper research | electronic resources | sound or moving image catalogue | digital collections | images on Flickr

Public libraries

Westminster City Council Library Service is well worth joining, as they have some good electronic resources many of which you can access remotely, including some that are significant for courses in the school of arts.   There is also access to eBooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers, and eAudiobooks.  The Westminster Reference Library, just behind the national gallery, is well-known for its visual arts collection.

There are also free e-resources available through Harrow public library, and these include IndieFlix (streaming service) and Qello (music concerts and documentaries).

Free online libraries / collections

The Internet Archive

The Internet Archive and related Open Library can be good for older material for arts subjects. Some examples include:

Registration is necessary to access some books (the same account will work on both platforms).  There is currently a legal challenge to the 'controlled digital lending' model the Internet Archive operate.

A good range of older photography books can be viewed.  The Internet Archive also has older periodicals, such as these Photography periodicals.

Google Books and other sources


  • Project Guttenberg is strictly limited to out of  US copyright books.  Examples include: The Pencil of Nature
  • Public Books is an online magazine, with a list of US academic publishers offering open access books
  • DOAB is the directory of Open Access Books
  • Monoskop - a wiki for the arts, media and humanities
  • Catalogue Rouge - digital art library that offers access to the digital versions of art publications.  Some you have to pay for, but there are many free books too.  Largely historic rather than contemporary art.

Free extracts from Ebook platforms

Apple, Google and Amazon (Kindle) provide samples of books - generally the first chapter or two, often including the introduction.  This can be a great way of widening your reading and references for free.

  • Apple books provides free extracts or purchase
  • Google Play provides free extracts, purchase or rental of books
  • Kindle provides free extracts of most of academic books available on Kindle (you can read them on the Kindle app, even if you don't have a Kindle device)

Publisher sites

Individual sites

Individual artists/writers may have material on their own websites. For example:

Theses / Repositories

Open access resources

  • Library Search - includes open-access resources which you can access without being a current student
    You can limit your results to open access resources on Library Search by selecting the 'open access' filter in the availability menu on the left (here is an example search).  Note that this option is available only if your results include open access resources.

  • BASE - provides more than 120 million documents from more than 6,000 sources. Approximately 60% of the indexed documents are Open Access
  • Digital Commons Network - brings together free, full-text scholarly articles from hundreds of universities and colleges worldwide
  • JURN - a search of free academic articles, chapters and theses, powered by Gooogle Custom Search
  • OAIster [Union catalogue of open access resources, provided by OCLC/Worldcat]  Further information
  • OAPEN (Open Access Publishing in European Networks) is a collaborative initiative to develop and implement a sustainable Open Access publication model for academic books in the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  • Shared Research Repository for cultural and heritage organisations

British Library for Fashion

Find out more here 

Featured libraries

Stuart Hall Library

The Stuart Hall Library is the "critical and creative hub" of Iniva (Insitute of International Visual Arts).  It supports Iniva’s work by documenting and facilitating its research into the contemporary visual arts within an international and transnational context, as well as providing critical material on issues of cultural identity.

The library offers a specialist collection that is open to the public. The library also hosts regular talks, tours and events, including the Research Network and Saturday Reading Groups. 

Tate Library & Archive

Not far from the Stuart Hall Library in Pimlico is the Tate Library and Archive (at Tate Britain).  They have acquired the Panchayat collection and the Martin Parr photobook collection in recent years.

Associate colleges

Students on courses at associate college have borrowing rights in our libraries, but limited access to online resources. 

The sections on this page that are particularly relevant for you are:

  • Open access resources 
  • Other libraries (good e-resources can be accessed from Public Libraries)
  • Free online libraries

You may also find the Image, moving image, web page useful - most of the resources here are open access; and there is also a separate general guide to Open access resources.

Please note that we are unable to provide inter-library loans to students from associate colleges.


As a member of the alumni association (which is free), you have access to our libraries on a reference-only basis.  You can also access JSTOR. Please also read the advice given to students from associate colleges (above).