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Frequently asked questions

Hopefully you'll find the answer to your questions here, but if not please email


How do I set or change my alerts?

Email alerts are set up by you as part of the online registration for the MBS Portal. You can choose to receive alerts for any one or more of the 12 key subject areas, or no alerts at all, it's up to you.

You can change them at any time by clicking on the Change your alerts link on the blue box you see on pages of the MBS Portal once you're logged in.

British Library services

I want to start my own business. Can the British Library help me?

Definitely. Our Business and IP Centre in St Pancras, London can help you set up, grow and develop your own business. See the Business and IP Centre website for more information, resources and events designed to support small businesses, inventors and entrepreneurs.


What does it contain?

The Portal contains:

  • Digital research reports, summaries, briefings, case studies, working papers and conference papers from selected Universities, research institutes, thinktanks, professional bodies, trade unions, consultancies and government bodies
  • articles we've commissioned from individual authors
  • guides and bibliographies we've written to help you find and use material on particular topics
  • links out to some videos on others' websites
  • a powerful search interface that brings together all of the British Library's material in one results list - so you can see all the print books and journals, audio and websites that we have alongside the content from the Portal itself.

It does not contain the full text of peer-reviewed journal articles.

Why aren't there any full text peer-reviewed journal articles in the Portal? And how can I get them?

This is because the cost of licencing electronic journals for remote use is prohibitively expensive. It could also potentially duplicate provision by Universities and professional bodies, which would not be a good use of public money.

If you need journal articles and can't get them from your University Library or a body like CMI, you can:

Come to the British Library in London and get a Reader Pass that will enable you to use the electronic journals while you are in our reading rooms in London or Boston Spa in Yorkshire. In the Social Science Reading Room in London you'll find the latest 12 months' issues of a selection of print journals on the shelves, you can also order journal issues for delivery to the Reading Room.

Buy the journal article you need from our document supply service or the publisher's website. Again, if you're an academic or student your University Library can help you order documents from our document supply service, and if your company or organisation has a library, they can help.

Downloading limits

You can download up to 50 PDFs on one day, or 100 per 4-week period, from the Portal and save them to your computer or a USB stick for your personal research, study or other non-commercial purposes.

If you exceed this limit, or use the content for commercial purposes without the copyright-holder's written permission, you will be banned from using the MBS Portal.

Please note that you must bring your own laptop if you want to download material from the Portal while you're in the British Library Reading Rooms. This is because our computers have security settings that prevent downloading.

What are 'commercial purposes'?

Commercial purposes are defined in the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and amending legislation. For example, you must not provide copies of the content (other than as permitted under the 'fair dealing' provisions of the Act), sell it or use it to create a commercial product without the express written permission of the copyright holder.

I want to write an article for you. Whom do I contact?

We're always pleased to hear from potential authors. You need to have a good idea for an article and be able to demonstrate that you know about the subject, as well as being willing to grant us non-exclusive rights to publish the article. We are also happy to re-publish articles that have appeared elsewhere, provided you are the copyright-holder or can get copyright clearance. We will verify these things with you, explain our editorial policy and writing style, and make sure there are no copyright issues, once you contact us.

The easiest way to start the ball rolling is to complete the Contact us form, which goes to the editor at the British Library in London. We aim to get back to you within 5 working days.

Why hasn't my University/organisation got any content on here?

UK law on legal deposit of electronic material has not yet come into effect, so the British Library operates a voluntary scheme whereby UK-based organisations are welcome to provide content to the Library for remote access services like the MBS Portal, or just for use by readers in British Library reading rooms. We always respect the rights of copyright-holders and all content is covered by proper rights-clearance procedures.

If you would like to contribute content specifically to the MBS Portal, please complete the Contribute content form. We will always tell you about the Library's other schemes to give you a choice about, for instance, whether you would also like your website to be archived by the UK Web Archive.

If you would like to find out more about contributing electronic content to the British Library generally, or to have your website archived by the UK Web Archive, please see our webpages about Voluntary Deposit.


How do I register?

Anyone can register to use the MBS Portal.

Complete a short online form, click on a link in an email we send you, and that's it!

The data you give us will be kept secure and will not be used for any other purposes or shared with any third parties. Click on the word Register in the top right of any MBS Portal screen to start your registration.

You don't need to come to the British Library to register to use the Portal. You do, however, need to come to our Reader Registration Office in London if you want to get a British Library Reader Pass to use our reading rooms. You need to bring two forms of ID with you to get your Reader Pass, find out more.

Remind me of the terms and conditions I agreed to when I registered?

The terms and conditions of use for the Management and Business Studies Portal are published here. They appear on the final screen in the customer registration system, it is mandatory for all users to confirm acceptance in order to complete registration.


In the search box, what is the 'MBS collection'? And what's 'All collections'?

The MBS collection is:

  • everything in the MBS Portal
  • plus a subset of print and digital material in the British Library's collections (library books, journals, datasets, sound recordings, websites etc) that we have identified as being relevant for the subject Management and Business Studies. 

We use an automated process to capture catalogue records of books etc with the relevant Dewey class numbers, this set is updated once a week. New MBS Portal content is added overnight each night. 

All collections includes everything in the British Library's collections nomatter what the subject and covers material without any Dewey numbers i.e. everything catalogued before 2004, when we started using Dewey. So it's a much bigger collection.

We suggest you search first in MBS Collection and then click on All collections to broaden your search.

If you want to see only MBS Portal content:

  1. Search using MBS collection
  2. In the Results list, look on the lefthand side where it says Refine my results and choose Reports as the material type to see all downloadable reports, working papers and other PDFs on the Portal
  3. Choose Web page as the Material type to see all MBS Portal editorial article webpages, plus websites that are part of the UK Web Archive.

Subject interests

How do I set up or change my subject interests?

You set up your subject interests as part of the online registration process when you first register to use the Portal. You can change your subject interests at any time, by clicking on the Change your alerts link in the blue box shown on the home page and other pages you see when you're logged in. You'll be asked to log in to the BL Account system which holds you customer details, choose 'Manage MBS subject interests and alerts' from the menu, update your subject interests and click Save.

Using the Portal

How do I use the Portal?

First, register so you can see all the content. It's quick, easy and free. Just click the word Register in the top-right corner of the screen and follow the instructions. Or see the FAQ How do I register for more information.

When you register, you can set up your subject preferences to tailor the Portal to reflect the subjects that interest you, and optionally choose to receive an email once a month alerting you to new content matching your subject interests. You only get one email each month from us, no matter how many subjects you select.

Using the Portal in the British Library Reading Rooms?

You can use the Portal in any of our Reading Rooms in London or Boston Spa, Yorkshire, if you have a Reader Pass.

Most people come to the Social Science Reading Room or the Business and IP Centre in London because those Reading Rooms contain the best selection of digital and print resources for management, and library staff who are used to providing help to people with an interest in the subject.

Please note that you must bring your own laptop if you want to download material from the Portal while you're in the British Library Reading Rooms. This is because our computers have security settings that prevent downloading.

If you want to order books or other print material for delivery to the Reading Room, please see the FAQ Ordering books or other print material. You can pre-order material so that it's ready waiting for you on the day of your visit.

Ordering books or other print material to be delivered to the Reading Room

Most material is not kept on the open shelves in the British Library. In fact, most of our books, journals and other print material is kept in storage in Boston Spa in Yorkshire - two hundred miles away from our main Reading Rooms in London. So, you need to order the books, journal issues and other printed items you need to use in advance of your visit.

How to request items

You need to have a British Library Reader Pass to be able to order up material for delivery to our Reading Rooms.

Start your search using the search box on the MBS Portal. This will take you into the Explore the British Library Search our Catalogue system. Explore is a different system from the MBS Portal, and at the moment it requires you to log into it with your Reader Pass number in order to request material. Please see the Help pages written by our Electronic Services team for step by step instructions and video tutorials to help you use Explore.

What is a British Library Reader Pass and how can I get one?

A Reader Pass is a plastic card with a Reader Number on it that enables you to use the British Library's collections in our Reading Rooms in London and Boston Spa, Yorkshire.

You have to apply for a Reader Pass in person, by coming to our Reader Registration Office in St Pancras, London with the required forms of identification. Please read the detailed information here.

You also need to show that you have a genuine need to use our collections, for example because you need to use material that is only available from the British Library. When you come to the Reader Registration Office, the staff there will ask you why you need to use the British Library, and will expect you to be able to describe what you want to do. It helps if you have done a search of our catalogue and can name some books, journals and other resources that you need to use. If you're a University student, you really need to show that you need to use material that is not available from your University i.e. research-level material, not textbooks. For example, if you're an HR Manager looking for examples of good practice from other organisations, you'd find resources like IDS HR Studies, a journal kept in the Social Science Reading Room in St Pancras London, very useful. If you're a working manager, you might be particularly interested in the market research reports or practical business information in our Business and IP Centre, as well as the deep and lovely collections of management books, journals and digital material you'll find in the Social Science Reading Room, which focuses more on management theory.

Who is the Portal for?

Who is the Portal for?

The MBS Portal is designed to be useful for both practising managers and people with a research interest in the subject - such as academics, policymakers and students.

We aim to support the impact of research by making the findings of management research - from various sources - more readily available to working managers. The content and topics deliberately focus on the United Kingdom, and as the national library of the UK we see this focus as important to our role. It also means we can better support research funders such as the ESRC and UK Government, and the professional bodies for management practice and research in the UK, namely CMI and BAM.

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