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Living in London

Exploring London through its Libraries

By StudentGuest 12 May 2024

As LSE students pursuing rigorous degrees, we are often pressed for time. And if you are anything like me – a procrastinator pursuing a relentlessly tough Master’s, who loves living in London, hates being confined to a single study location, and doesn’t have time to go out often – you will find soon enough that one of the most productive ways to sightsee is to discover new libraries! 

So, from one procrastinator-who-plugs-into-dark-academia-playlists-on-Spotify to the next, here is my collection of the nicest alternative libraries: 

1. BFI Reuben Library 

The British Film Institute’s Reuben Library tops my list – plug points at every table, private silent study spaces, a hipster-art house vibe, and the BEST location – right on the Southbank! There is no better place for when you need a break from studying: enjoy some fresh air by the Thames, or some lively music on the Southbank, or even just take a walk to enjoy the vibrant culture of the Southbank. There’s nothing quite like it. And here’s the kicker: it’s a 10-minute walk from LSE – perfect for when you need a break from the rather stressful LSE Library! 

Google Map link: 

a close up of a library

2. Senate House Library 

Located on the campus of the University of London, minutes away from Tottenham Court Road, the Senate House Library is a majestic building that is opposite a garden and is 3 minutes from a Pret that offers smoothies (yes, I have my priorities straight!) 

Remember to complete the online registration to obtain a free student pass for Senate House Library – once that’s done, you’re all set! There’s numerous places to study, and the wood panelling, high ceilings, and soft yellow and green lighting offer the perfect old-school dark academia aesthetic you miss at the LSE Library. And here’s a tip: there’s also a microwave and free tea/coffee in the kitchen on the ground floor for when you need some sustenance to get you through the day! 

Google Map Link: 

a room filled with furniture and a book shelf

3. The Barbican Centre 

Within the heart of London lies a sanctuary – not especially well-known but certainly not a secret – the Barbican Centre is a serene escape from the stress of the City. There’s brutalist architecture, a mini river and gardens to walk through, great coffee to savour, and art/music exhibitions during your study breaks. St Paul’s Cathedral is barely a 10-minute walk away. Equally, there are tables with plug points and study spaces that aren’t eerily quiet but are far from being noisy, too – honestly, the only reason why the Barbican isn’t at the top of this list is because I’m resisting the urge to gatekeep it! 

Google Map link: 


4. Bishopsgate Library 

Hello, residents of Lilian Knowles House – this one is especially for you! The Bishopsgate Library is located at Liverpool Street, precisely 2 minutes away from this LSE Hall and the lovely Old Spitalfields Market – and it provides a wonderful space to study. The Bishopsgate Institute itself is a warm, welcoming spot, and the library offers an old-world charm alongside high-speed wi-fi and plug points on every table. This is the perfect spot especially if you’re looking for a place to study on a Monday or a Friday – the general study room is open to all then! If you are using the Library for archival research, then the library is open throughout the week. 

Google Map link: 

a room filled with furniture and a table in a library

5. Artizan Street Library 

Artizan Street Library is perfect if you want a more playful space. It has a community-like vibe to it – also located just 10 minutes from Liverpool Street Station; this library is a local library that is relatively small but colourful and refreshing to sit in for a long study session.  

Google Map Link: 

a glass display case in a store window

Happy Library-ing! 


Lilian Knowles House


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