National Poetry Library

Opening times

Tue 12 noon – 6pm, Wed – Sun 12 noon – 8pm. Closed Mondays.

See the opening times for all our venues

The Poetry Library at Southbank Centre
Southbank Centre Poetry Library Credit India Roper-Evans

Spend time among the stacks in our sanctuary for lovers of poetry

Housing the world’s largest public collection of modern poetry, the National Poetry Library, on Level 5 of the Royal Festival Hall, is free to join. 

A vital resource for the poetry community since it was founded by the Arts Council in 1953, the library counts many esteemed poets among its fans. 

After it was opened by TS Eliot and Herbert Read, Seamus Heaney cut the cake for the move to the Southbank Centre in 1988, and Ted Hughes spent time here researching the anthology Rattle Bag

In recent years the library has hosted a residency with the celebrated poet and playwright, Inua Ellams, and commissioned a new exhibition by South Korean artist Joo Yeon Park

Visitor information

Our number one priority is the health and wellbeing of our visitors and staff. 

Check here for our current guidance

Tuesday, 12 noon – 6pm
Wednesday – Sunday, 12 noon – 8pm
Closed Monday

See the opening times for all our venues

Our address is: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX.

  • The nearest tube and train stations within 5-7 minutes walk are Waterloo (Northern, Bakerloo, Jubilee and Waterloo & City lines) and Embankment (District & Circle lines).
  • There are also lots of bus routes with stops 2-5 minutes from our venues. For more information on getting here by road, rail or river.

Visit our Getting here page

National Poetry Library can be reached step-free by taking the JCB Glass Lift, located on Blue Side of Royal Festival Hall, to Level 5.

More about Access & facilities

The library provides a free postal service of poetry on cassette and CD to blind and partially sighted people throughout the UK.

Fill out the membership form

Search the holdings of the largest public collection of modern poetry in the world.

Search the catalogue

Join now

It’s free to join and all you need to bring with you is:

a photo ID such as a passport or driving licence
a bill from the last 3 months with your name and address on it (a bank statement or a utility bill for example)

visit our website

Find us

Level 5, Blue Side, Royal Festival Hall 
Tel: 020 7921 0664 or 020 7921 0943

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Treats from our shop

100 Queer Poems book on a pink background
100 Queer Poems


National Poetry Library Tote Bag


National Poetry Library mug in black and white
National Poetry Library Mug