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Library FAQs

We have put together here some of the more frequently asked questions that the Library receives. If you have a question that isn't answered here please contact the Library on +44 (0)20 7432 0999+44 (0)20 7432 0999 or email

1. General

2. Library Services
3. Borrowing
4. Maps
5. Electronic Resources
6. Archives
7. Donations

1. General

 What are the Library's opening hours?

The Library is open 9.30am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, except for Bank Holidays.

 Where is the Library located?

The Library is located in the Geological Society’s apartments in Burlington House, Piccadilly, London, W1J OBG which is the same building as the Royal Academy of Arts. The main entrance is located on the north side of Piccadilly opposite Fortnum and Mason.

 How can I contact the Library?

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7432 0999+44 (0) 20 7432 0999
Fax: +44 (0)20 7439 3470
Post: The Library, Geological Society, Burlington House, Piccadilly, London. W1J 0BG

 Who can use the Library?

The Library is open to Fellows, Candidate Fellows and members of Corporate Affiliate companies. Friends of the Society may use the library for Reference only. We have reciprocal arrangements with some organisations and non-members can use the Library by appointment (charges apply). See Use of the Library

 I am a Friend of the Society. Can I use the Library?

Friends of the Society can use the Library for reference purposes only. No appointment is necessary. Services (such as photocopying) are charged at non-members rates.

 What is the Fellows’ Room?

The Fellows’ Room is available for Fellows, Friends and Library users. There are comfortable chairs, public access computers, and hot and cold drinks are available. Food and drink can be consumed here.

 What is the Lyell Room?

The Lyell Room is a quiet study area in the Library that was opened to celebrate the Society’s Bicentenary in 2007. There are plug sockets for laptops. There are also some exhibits and artefacts on display.

 Can I have a meeting with my colleagues in the Library or Lyell Room?

The Library and Lyell Room are not suitable places to hold any kind of formal meeting. The Fellows’ Room and Lower Library are available for quiet informal discussion.

Alternatively meeting rooms are available for hire. The rates and booking form are available from the venue hire page.

 Does the Library sell books published by the Geological Society Publishing House?

Yes, books can be purchased from the Burlington House Bookshop, which is in the Library at Burlington House, Piccadilly, London W1J 0BG. The bookshop contains a range of browsable titles from the Geological Society Publishing House as well as a selection of books from other publishers. If you are unable to visit the Library in person please visit the online bookshop to have books delivered by post.

 Does the Library sell other books?

The Library regularly sells duplicate and second-hand material.  Sales are regularly posted on the library sale page. If you would like to be notified of future sales please contact us.

2. Library Services

 How can I see what you have in your collection?

The Library Catalogue can be viewed online. It lists all book, periodical and map holdings in the Library.

  I can’t find a book or journal in your catalogue. Can you get it for me?

If you are unable to find what you want in the library catalogue then contact us. We may be able to get the book for you on Inter-Library loan or recommend alternatives.

 Can I photocopy at the Library?

A self-service full colour photocopier is available. You will need to purchase a photocopying card and top it up with 20, 50 or 100 units, depending on how much you require. The card can be retained for future use.

 Can staff photocopy for me?

A photocopy request service is available to all Fellows of the Geological Society, both in the UK and overseas, and to employees of Corporate Affiliates. It is also available to non-members; please enquire. Photocopies will be posted out or can be collected from the Library. See Document Delivery for more information.

 Can you send me a scan of a journal article?

Yes, we can provide PDFs of articles for non-commercial/private research. See Document Delivery for more information.

 Can I print at the Library? 

You can print from the PCs available in the Library using a photocopying card, which can be purchased at the enquiry desk.

 Does the Library have internet access?

There are four PCs with internet access for Library users.

 Can I use my Laptop at the Library? Is Wi-Fi available?

If you need to plug in your laptop, sockets are available in the Lyell Room area of the Library. Wi-Fi is available throughout the building. Ask a member of staff for the password.

3. Borrowing

I cannot come into the Library in person. Can I still borrow items?

Yes. We can post items to you by First Class post or Special Delivery if needed urgently. We ask that you pay for the postage so an invoice will be enclosed. Contact us to order items. Alternatively Fellows may send someone to collect books on their behalf by prior arrangement.

 How many items may I borrow?

Fellows: 6 books/serials and 6 maps; Candidate Fellows: 3 books/serials and 3 maps; Corporate Affiliate companies: 12 books/serials and 12 maps.

 How long can I borrow an item for?

The loan period is 4 weeks. Loans can be renewed for an unlimited number of 4 week periods provided items are not required by another reader.

 Can I renew items?

Yes. As long as items are not required by another user they can be renewed either in person or by phone or email for unlimited 4 week periods.

 How can I reserve an item?

To reserve an item contact the library in person, by phone (0207 432 09990207 432 0999) or email.

 Will I be fined if a book is returned late?

No, but if a book is overdue we will issue a reminder. If a book is then not returned a second reminder will be sent with an invoice for an administration fee (£10 + VAT).

If books are not returned on time or invoices are not paid, we will withdraw borrowing privileges and access to services until the matter is resolved. Seriously overdue items could result in borrowing privileges being permanently removed.

4. Maps

 Can I borrow maps?

Yes, you can borrow maps just like books and periodicals from the Library. Some maps are kept for reference in the Library only, especially if they’re old and fragile.

 How many maps can I borrow?

Fellows can borrow 6 maps at a time, Candidate Fellows 3 maps at a time, Corporate Affiliate companies 12 at a time. This is on top of your borrowing rights for books and periodicals.

 Can I copy maps?

We allow you to photocopy an A4-sized extract from any given map on the photocopier in the Library. If the map is bigger than A4, you can only copy an A4-sized part of it. This is a legal restriction.

 Do you sell scans of maps?

Unfortunately we cannot currently offer scans of maps in the main collection. We do sell prints of historic geological maps from our website online.

 How do I search for maps in the Library catalogue?

The Library catalogue on our website allows you to specifically search for maps. Choose Advanced Search or Guided Search, and select 'Maps' in the drop-down selection tab.

 How can I find out if you have a particular map sheet?

Our catalogue doesn’t list every sheet we hold for a given series of maps. To find out if we hold the sheet you want, please contact the Map Librarian directly at or phone the Library on +44 (0)20 7432 0999+44 (0)20 7432 0999 and ask for the map room.

 Will the Library tell me what maps they hold for a given location?

Yes. If you want to know what we hold for a specific location, you can contact the map room (details above) and ask what we hold. It will normally take the Map Librarian about 10 minutes to do a search for you.

5. Electronic Resources

 What e-journals and e-books are available to Fellows?

  • Lyell Collection:
As part of their membership subscription, Fellows have the following access to items on the Lyell Collection, the Society’s publications online:
  • Journals: All Fellows are entitled to full access to one free Society journal as part of their package of benefits. Additionally, all Fellows receive free access to the online versions of the Transactions of the Geological Society of London (published 1811-1856).
  • Books: Fellows have access to GSL books (Special Publications, Memoirs and Engineering Geology Special Publications) published prior to the current or three previous calendar years without restriction.

For more information, including a Lyell Collection FAQs, see: Lyell Collection

  • Library’s free Offsite e-journal service:

Fellows are entitled to remote access to over 100 e-journals using Athens Authentication. The full list of titles is available here. To access these journals please send us a completed Athens passwords application form and we will send login details.

  • Library's free Offsite e-book service:

Fellows are entitled to remote access to over 20 e-books using Athens Authentication. The full list of titles is available here. To access these e-books please send us a completed Athens passwords application form and we will send login details.

For more information on electronic resources visit the Virtual Library

 What e-journals are available to Corporate Affiliate companies?

None, unless your company subscribes to the Lyell Collection.

 What is the Lyell Collection?

Launched in 2007 to celebrate 200 years of the Geological Society of London, the Lyell Collection is an online collection comprising the Society’s journal titles, Special Publications and key book series. For more information visit the Lyell Collection

 How do I log into the Lyell Collection? I have forgotten my password.

Information about access is available in the Lyell Collection section of our website. This includes a Lyell Collection FAQ page. If you don't know, or have forgotten, your username and password contact Membership if you are a Fellow, and the Geological Society Publishing House if you are a subscriber, or use the "Forgot your username or password" link on the Lyell Collection login page.

 I am trying to log into the Lyell Collection but my Athens password is not working.

The Lyell Collection and Athens Authentification are completely different systems and require different sets of login details. For information about logging into the Lyell Collection see FAQ How do I log into the Lyell Collection?

 I am logged into the Lyell Collection but am denied full access to a paper.

You do not have access to everything within the Lyell Collection. See FAQ What e-journals are available to Fellows.

 I have forgotten my Athens log-in details.

Go to MyAthens: Login Help. Follow the instructions for forgotten passwords, or ask the Serials Librarian for a new password.

 My Athens log-in is not working.

If your log-in is not working there could be a number of reasons. Passwords are case sensitive. Is the caps lock on? Are you using the right username/password fields? The correct point to enter Athens logins is always prominently labelled as an Athens Authentication point. Information on where to find these is on the e-journals Frequently Asked Questions. If the problem persists, contact the Serials Librarian with details of what you did and what the results were.

 I am logged in, but the full-text is not available.

We might not have offsite access to that particular issue. For the coverage available for each journal see: Athens Password e-journals. If the Notes field of the journal's Library catalogue record states that we do have offsite access to this issue, send details of the problem to the Serials Librarian for further investigation.

 What databases are available?

GeoRef and Geofacets are available in the Library and free to access by Fellows and Corporate Affiliates. These databases are not available by remote access. For more information on these databases see Literature Searches.

 Can Library staff do a literature search on my behalf?

Yes. The Library staff can carry out literature searches and email or post results. Charges apply. See Literature Searches.

6. Archives

 I cannot find the Archive catalogue. How can I search your holdings?

The catalogue of the Archive is not available online but holdings are included in the Access to Archives (A2A) catalogue (in Advanced Search choose Geological Society in the Repository field). Information about the collection, including what historical reference material is accessible on the archives page. For more information contact the Archivist.

 Do you have obituaries of Society Fellows? How can I get a copy of an obituary?

Obituaries published by the Society of its Fellows are listed on the history pages. Obituaries from 2001 onwards are freely available on the website here. To order an obituary pre-dating 2001 contact the Library and a paper copy or pdf will be provided (Charges apply).

 I would like a copy of a Fellow’s nomination form/membership form.

Please contact the Archivist and if possible a copy will be provided (Charges apply)

 I need some images for a publication. Can you provide them?

Please visit the Picture Library pages for details of image use.

 Can I visit the William Smith map?

Information on visiting the William Smith and George Greenough maps can on the Visiting the William Smith map page.

7. Donations

 Can I donate books to the Library collection?

We are always happy to accept donations provided we do not already hold a copy and it is suitable for the collection. If it is not suitable and you are happy for it to be sold to raise money for the Library, we can add it to our sale of duplicate stock.

 Can you recommend other places to donate unwanted books and journals?

The following places might be interested, but check with them before sending anything.

Our knowledge of some of these organisations is limited, so this listing is for information only and does not constitute a recommendation. The AAPG Publication Pipeline Committee in the USA collects geoscience books and journals from those who no longer need them and forwards these resources to overseas universities and libraries. Consult them first, if you are based outside the USA.
  • Gaza Library Project
Seeks to help create a public library of science and technology in Gaza. Supports academic institutions in Palestine by sending container-loads of donated books and journals.

Gaza Library Project
Mr Michael Payne
8 Dennys Lane
IP17 2PD
Tel: 01728 60337901728 603379
Fax: 01728 603379

 Can you give me advice on antiquarian or second-hand booksellers?

A list of antiquarian and second hand booksellers specialising in geology and natural history is available to download below.

FAQs updated August 2015

Library Catalogue


Search for books, journals and maps using the Library catalogue.


Contact the Library and we might be able to locate it elsewhere or even buy it for the collection.