The Anthropology Library and Research Centre, located within the British Museum, incorporates the original Library of the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) and the British Museum’s Ethnography Library, and is effectively Britain’s national anthropology library. The RAI contributes substantially to Library acquisitions and staffing. International exchange arrangements are also in place with scholarly institutions, under which the Library receives publications in exchange for RAI journals.
The Library is open to the public for reference and research. RAI Fellows have the special privilege of borrowing books and journals donated by the RAI (about 60% of total holdings). Fellows are encouraged to make use of the Library’s wide ranging resources.
The online catalogue can be searched here.
Both the RAI and the Museum’s Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas host seminars and other events in the Library. The Department’s Collections Enquiries service is also located within the Library.
Library opening hours are 10.00-17.00 Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and 12.00-17.00 on Thursday.
The Library’s holdings comprise more than 120,000 books and pamphlets and 4,000 journal titles, of which around 1,500 are current. The journal collection, which is indexed by the Anthropological Index Online, is particularly strong for Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. The Library also contains maps, newsletters, reports and a significant pictorial collection.
The Anthropology Library and Research Centre asks all RAI Fellows who publish books to remember the Library when considering recipients for copies of their work donated by the publisher.