Information on what resources are available in the reference library.

Contact the reference library

Our reference library is on the first floor of the Central library. You cannot borrow most of the reference items. If there's an item you'd like to borrow, ask our library staff.

Some of the collection is stored offsite and we require notice to retrieve it. Email or call us before you visit. 

The reference library includes:

  • our art collection
  • newspapers and magazines
  • our local studies collection
  • family history resources
  • maps, atlases, legal and medical textbooks, and language dictionaries

The online catalogue lists items we got after 1985. For items we got before 1985, check our card catalogues, or ask our librarians to help you.

Rare items

The collection's special items include:

  • original 19th century travel accounts
  • research material on the history of the slave trade in Bristol
  • early printed books

To view our rare or valuable items, you need to let us know up to five working days in advance by emailing or ringing 0117 903 7202 .   

We'll need to see proof of your identity. You can find a list of what you can use as proof on the join the library page.

One of our librarians might need to be in the room with you when you use rare or valuable books. You can't photocopy fragile material.

Contact information

Central Library

Central Library
College Green
Bristol, BS1 5TL

Tel: 0117 903 7250
Text phone: 0117 357 4444 (TexBox. Choose 'Central Library')

Opening Hours

Monday 9.30am to 5pm
Tuesday 9.30am to 7pm
Wednesday 9.30am to 5pm
Thursday 9.30am to 7pm
Friday 9.30am to 5pm
Saturday 10am to 5pm
Sunday 1pm to 5pm