The Marine Biological Association

Promoting marine scientific excellence and representing the marine biological community since 1884

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Library & Information Services

The National Marine Biological Library (NMBL) is the library of the MBA and is responsible for supporting the scientific work of the MBA, the Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science (SAHFOS) and Plymouth Marine Laboratory (PML) researchers, MBA members, and the MBA’s education and communication strategies

The library collection is one of the world’s largest of its kind, maintaining an up-to-date selection of books and journals as well as holding historical literature such as old books, expedition reports, conference proceedings and the personal libraries of past MBA researchers, including E. T. BrowneRay E. LankesterMarie V. Lebour and J. Z. Young. The library also holds long runs of periodicals, including grey literature, from all over the world. The author catalogue (card and online) facilitates retrieval of marine scientific information that is not otherwise readily available. A new online facility to access the NMBL’s resources will be made available shortly through the NMBL’s new website; in the mean time, please see here for further information.

NMBL Knowledge Exchange Activities

As well as being committed to providing high-quality professional information services to support its users, the NMBL is invested in knowledge exchange activities:

  •  The NMBL, with support from the MBA, publishes the MBA Occasional Publications (ISSN 0260-2784), a high-quality series of scientific reports. These provide in-depth analysis of a specific area of marine biology, or are geographical case studies with wider relevance. For more information, please click here.
  •  The NMBL maintains, along with SAHFOS and PML, PlyMSEA which is an open-access repository for research by researchers from these institutions. For more information, please click here.
  • The NMBL has also constructed and maintains a bibliographic database for the South West Marine Science Forum which remains a focal point for research about the marine environment in the British South West. For more information, please see here.
  • Between April 2013 and March 2015, the NMBL will be the lead partner on the ChanneLIS project, an EU-funded project (under INTERREG IVA – Channel)  in partnership with the Station biologique de Roscoff (France) which will create a bibliographic database of scientific literature pertaining to the Channel. For more information, please see here.
  • Between April 2014 and March 2015, the NMBL will be delivering the Marine OnLINE project, funded by the Foyle Foundation which is digitizing the printed catalogues of the NMBL to facilitate digital access to the collections.

 Further MBA Information Resources

The MBA hosts the Marine Life Information Network (MarLIN) and the UK Archive for Marine Species and Habitats Data (DASSH).  MarLIN is the most comprehensive resource of information about the marine environment of the British Isles, comprising the largest review of the effects of human activities and natural events on marine species and habitats.  DASSH is the MEDIN-accredited data archive centre for marine species and habitats data, providing advice, support and services in the archiving and dissemination of marine biological data.

These two resources build on the collections and information services of  the NMBL.


The NMBL is managed by Dr Matt Frost, MBA Deputy Director for Policy and Knowledge Exchange, supported by the Library Services Manager and the Library Development Officer / Curator of Historical Collections, along with the help of a Library Assistant.