Time it right at the National Art Library

January 30, 2023
Clock made by J. Smth & Sons, decorated by F.W. Moody, about 1857 – 62. Museum no. M.159-1984 © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Although we have many regular readers in the National Art Library, it’s always useful to go over the basics of how our services run. Certain activities happen at set points of the day, so you can work with those timings to make the most of your visit when you are here. 

Our opening times

We welcome visitors to our reading rooms every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, opening at 11.00 and closing at 17.00.  Unless we post something about a closure on our website, it’s unlikely that these details will change. However we do sometimes tweak our book delivery times and availability can change, so keep an eye out for that.

Requesting books

Our books are held in stores around V&A South Kensington and need to be requested via our online catalogue. Some of the stores are close to the reading rooms and some quite remote, so books can take up to 90 minutes to reach the reading rooms from the time they are been requested. If you can, it’s a great idea to request your items in advance so they are ready and waiting for you when you get here. We start retrieving from the stores at 9.00, so that is a good time to get your requests in by. If you are already onsite, the last retrievals from stores happen at 15.30, so please do make sure you complete your day’s requests by then! 

Keeping you informed

When you request a book, you will receive an email to say when it is ready for collection, so keep an eye on your inbox. You can also check ‘Your Account’, which has details of all the books you have requested and what their status is. If you don’t already have an account, you can create one here.

Collecting your books

Once your item is ready for collection, you go to the library counter to collect it, remembering to bring your Reader’s Card. If you are consulting books from our Special Collections, you collect them from a specific area of the counter and will be asked to sit at a designated desk. The Special Collections area closes at 16.30 so the items can go back to secure storage overnight. If you have ordered ‘Specials’, try to collect them first to make sure that you have enough time to consult them. 

Placing your books on reserve

Any books that you haven’t finished with can be kept over for your next visit, so please let us know if you would like us to do that. 

To put it simply

Time for delivery: 90 minutes  
Retrievals start: 9.00 
Opening time: 11.00 
Last requests for same day delivery: 15.30  
Special Collections area closes: 16.30  
Closing time: 17.00  

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