NMRN Libraries

The library reading room at the National Museum of the Royal Navy Portsmouth

The NMRN Portsmouth Library is situated within the Naval Base at Portsmouth, adjacent to the Museum and the Historic Dockyard, in a purposely refurbished eighteenth century naval storehouse, with environmentally controlled bookstore and reading room with space for 24 readers. The Library was originally opened as a public resource in 1990 and moved to its present location in late 1997, re-opening in 1998.

The Library is an excellent resource for the study of British naval history including: naval biographies, social history, operational history, navigation, naval architecture, naval science, and ship port and station information 1856-1914 & WW2. The sources available can cater for academics, family historians or leisure students alike.

In addition, the NMRN (P) library works in partnership with the MoD’s Admiralty Library, situated elsewhere in the Naval Base,  which supplements our own collections with coverage in military history, naval science, technical and scientific works, naval law, medicine, gunnery and a large journal collection of British and foreign titles.

Reading Room resources

The Museum Library holds a variety of serial publications, the most important of which are available on open shelves in the Reading Room. These include:

  • London Gazettes (1776 to 1986)
  • Navy Lists (from 1797)
  • Illustrated London News
  • Admiralty Fleet Orders
  • Annual Register
  • Mariner's Mirror
  • Naval Review
  • Jane's Fighting Ships
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  • Transactions of the Royal Institute of Naval Architecture

In addition, other significant runs held in the stores are:

  • Army & Navy Gazette
  • Gentleman’s Magazine
  • Selected Parliamentary Papers
  • The Times 1809-1986

For further detailed information on the titles and runs held in the library, please look at the Genealogical sources and General historical sources information sheets or contact us. Our library catalogue will be available online soon.

Reading Room assistance

Readers can access the London Gazettes, Navy Lists and a large number of reference resources in the Reading Room. Readers can also access the library and manuscript catalogues within the Reading Room for materials held in our environmentally controlled bookstore, Staff can advise readers on resources held within the library and on external sources of information, if necessary. Some of these can be found on our Useful Sources pages.

Digital copying and photography

We are able to provide a publicly accessible Kiosk scanner for researchers to make digital copies of material under normal copyright and conservation policies. A suitable USB device is required for this purpose but staff are able to provide a service for those who do not have such a device or do not have access to a PC at home.

We are happy for researchers to use non-flash digital photography using personal cameras in the Reading Room.

Download our policy and charges here.


The Museum Library is located behind the Museum building within the Historic Dockyard, Portsmouth. Download a map here (Library is represented by the book symbol adjacent to 10a).

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