booksFurther to our previous post about the IHR library refurbishment plans, we can now give a bit more detail about our initial plans for the library collection locations. About two thirds of the collection can be kept on open access. The remainder will be closed, and we would like to store as much as possible onsite within Senate House.

We have drafted some initial plans based on

  • frequency of use
  • reader feedback
  • ease with which volumes can be identified and requested
  • ease of fetching and availability of appropriate shelving for oversized items
  • availability of material in nearby libraries and online
  • collections fitting logically into particular areas of the library

There are some general principles which we have adopted, given the space limitations. These are:

  • All except current volumes of periodicals will remain in closed access. This is disappointing as we know how much the open-access back runs have been valued for browsing purposes. We will be looking at widening access to electronic journals where possible and hope to work with Senate House Library colleagues to improve the user interface.
  • With the exception of the British history collection, much of the bibliography/archive guide sections will go on closed access. Although we appreciate that these sections can be useful as a starting point for research, they include much material that is now online or out of date, and they have had relatively low usage. We do plan to check these sections carefully with subject specialists and aim to bring the most useful material into a quick-reference section.

It is difficult to prioritise some sections over others and we’ll have to make some hard decisions, but we hope we can make the library as usable as possible. We’ll continue to do more to promote the collections and improve their discoverability. The closed-access fetch service is flexible, and we are happy to bring out long runs of material and keep it available for as long as it is being used.

Our draft plans divide the collections into broad areas: British, Irish and Ecclesiastical History on the first floor, Military and International Relations collections in the basement and European, Colonial and North American collections on the second floor. More details about individual collections can be found in the attached list. These plans are all subject to discussion. We will be asking subject specialists in different areas to discuss particular collections in detail. We welcome your feedback or input into this, please visit us in the IHR library enquiry office, or contact us on or 020 7862 8760.

See full list of plans for individual collections.