ZSL Library is usually open to all - please see below for access details and limitations on usage.

Please email to make an appointment to visit. We are open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and, from May 2024, Thursdays (by appointment only).

  • Lockers are available for use in the Library Lobby, bags should not be taken into the Library itself.
  • Photography and filming are not usually allowed.
  • Mobile telephones must be switched off or put on silent mode before entering the Reading Room and must remain off while in the Reading Room. Mobile telephones must not be used for making or receiving calls whilst in the Reading Room.
  • Please do not over-reach when trying to obtain books from high shelves. Please ask for assistance when needed. Do not attempt to carry too many books at one time.
  • Items not in the Reading Room can be fetched by Library staff but this is dependent on access and staff availability, we will of course attempt to retrieve items as soon as we can.
  • Visitors must not use their own discs, USBs or software on any of the Library’s computers. Laptop computers may be used in the Library. ZSL reserves the right to undertake safety checks of readers’ machines at any time. Wifi is available in the Reading Room, please ask the Duty Librarian for the password. See our Wifi policy.
  • ZSL accepts no liability for the loss of, or damage to, Visitors’ personal property or equipment, howsoever caused.
  • Please remember that eating is not permitted in the Library. Drinking from lidded containers is permitted in the Library lobby and there is a mains water dispenser in Reception.
  • Self-service scanning - ZSL Library provides a book scanner that creates pdf files. To use the scanner, you can purchase a memory stick from Library staff or you are welcome to bring your own. Library visitors may also use personal cameras or phones to take photographs of pages of books and journals, providing they adhere to copyright regulations and do not use a flash. Please check with Library staff first as we do not want photography to cause damage to items in our collections.
  • ZSL Library is up two flights of stairs. A lift is available, please mention if you will need to use the lift when making an appointment to visit.
  • There is an accessible toilet in Reception.
  • If you plan to visit ZSL Library with a group of four or more people, a please contact us in advance at so we can discuss your request.
  • Library visitors below the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times when visiting ZSL Library.
  • Please be considerate towards other Library visitors.

Make an appointment to visit the library


girl in ZSL reading room


General Public and ZSL Members

Members of the public who are not members of ZSL may use ZSL Library for reference only. Similarly, ZSL Members are welcome to use ZSL Library for reference. No books may be removed.

Please bring proof of your address and photo identification with you on the day that you wish to make use of ZSL Library. If you do not bring the identification detailed above you will be refused access to the Library.

Fellows of ZSL

  • Fellows of the Zoological Society of London are welcome to use ZSL Library and borrow up to six books at a time.
  • Student Fellows may borrow up to two books at a time.
  • Please bring your Fellowship card with you when your visit. Fellows are welcome to bring in accompanied guests.
  • Most books in ZSL Library are available for loan except for the reference works and books published before 1950. We also lend some of our print journals. Manuscripts, drawings and prints are not available for loan. Borrowers are personally responsible for the loss of, or damage to, any volume or other item while it is on loan from ZSL Library. No book may be taken or sent to any place outside the UK. Please do not pass loaned items to another individual. Books may be taken out for two months at a time and loans are automatically renewed unless requested by another borrower.

Further information for ZSL Fellows and Patrons


ZSL Visiting Library Scholars

Scholars from around the world are welcome to apply and receive privileged access to ZSL Library for a period of time, giving an opportunity to study rare or unique items in the collections.

Find out how to apply for an honorary position as a visiting library scholar


Special Collections

These include ZSL Archives, artworks, historic books or images. Ideally please contact us via email a week in advance of your visit so we can be sure items are accessible on the day of your visit.

These may be consulted only at the large table near the desk of the Library staff on duty. If you wish to make notes when consulting a rare book, pencils must be used. Biros or ink pens must not be used. 

Handle items with care, especially when turning pages of oversize items.

  • Hands must be clean and dry, please do not apply hand creams before handling items. Cotton gloves will be provided by ZSL and must be worn when handling photographs.
  • Do not write, lean or rest on items.
  • Avoid touching text or images.
  • Do not mark pages with post-its or fold corners.
  • Do not write on any material.
  • Use book supports for bound volumes, do not force books open or bend back covers.
  • Bound books can be held open with book ‘snakes’. Open and re-fold plates and maps carefully.
  • Uncut books and pages should be reported to Library staff.
  • When consulting loose collections e.g. letters or manuscripts, retain the same sequence in which they were presented.
  • Keep all mounted artwork face-upwards.
  • Do not stack books on desks more than three high.
  • Do not place items on the floor.
  • Sharp instruments such as scissors, staples, pencil sharpeners should be kept away from Special collections.

Please consult any member of the Library staff if you have any difficulties with any of the above. When finished please inform a member of the Library staff.