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Relocation blog

Update on availability of facilities in the new IHR library


We’re still waiting for the photocopying/printing equipment to arrive, and for the Wifi to be connected. We apologise for the inconvenience the delay has caused. We will provide updates when we have further information. You are welcome to use your own photographic equipment to make copies.

Reader desks are provided around the library. We expect the first floor reading room to be the most heavily used. If you find it fully occupied, remember that there are plenty of desks on the same floor in the Foyle reading room and upstairs on the 2nd and 3rd floors.

The Foyle reading room has book supports and a large table making it ideal for consulting large and fragile material as well as maps.

We have eight PCs currently available and three more will be added once some network faults are fixed. Two of these PCs have our new microfilm scanners attached, but are also available for general use when not required for this purpose.

Thanks for your patience during this time. We will put updates on the blog but please contact us if you’d like any further information on or 020 7862 8760.

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Availability of facilities in the newly reopened IHR


The IHR has reopened and the common room is available, with service of drinks and light snacks from 12 til 5.

There are a few outstanding problems still to be ironed out:

  • PCs are now in place on most floors. There will be a delay to their setup in the basement due to a fault with the network.
  • Installation of Wifi has been delayed due to the over-running building works. We expect this to be complete by the end of next week.
  • We are awaiting delivery of our photocopiers. Once these are installed, payment will be made by adding money to an account using your IHR card. Credits from existing cards can be transferred.
  • The lights in the reading rooms are controlled by sensors by the main landing doors. We have asked if these can be adjusted to avoid them going off while people are working further down the room.

The library collections are all in place with more now available on open access. The catalogue update is almost complete, but please ask staff if you need any help locating material.

Apologies for the inconvenience caused. We will continue to provide updates but please contact us if you’d like any further information on or 020 7862 8760.

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IHR reopening on Monday 1st September



We’re on schedule to reopen on Monday morning and looking forward to welcoming you to the refurbished IHR. Over 3.5 kilometres of books have been moved during the last 2 weeks and merged from 3 locations into the new library, and the movers have done an amazing job and stayed cheerful throughout!

The catalogue and finding aids are in the process of being updated, but staff will be on hand on Monday to help with locating material, and we are happy to give tours around the collections and facilities. We welcome our new library trainee Alex Zaleski on Monday as well, and she will be learning the new layout with the rest of us.


Please bear with us as we get things straightened out over the coming weeks. Photocopiers and Wifi are not yet available but will be installed as soon as possible. There are some new PCs ready to use on the 1st floor (the rest will be installed next week) and brand new microform scanning facilities.

The much loved common room is fully refurbished and will have catering provided at lunchtimes and afternoon tea. We hope you will enjoy using the new facilities.

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Library move under way


Reading RoomThe library’s move back to the refurbished north block of Senate House is progressing very nicely, and we’ve said a final goodbye to our temporary south block home, which is now almost completely cleared. So far everything is going to plan (more or less) and the movers have been working hard to get our collections safely into their new locations. We have a great selection of brand new comfy furniture around the library and in the common room, which has a striking new design.

There’s still a lot to be done over the next week, bringing selected material down from closed access in the tower, and back from our offsite store, but everything seems to be running to schedule and we hope to reopen on Monday 1st September as planned.

Again we apologise for any inconvenience caused by the closure period but we’re all really pleased with the library’s new look and facilities, and how much of the collection has returned to open access, and we hope that you will be too!

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Preparations for the library move


booksWe are beginning to move books and finalise shelving layouts  in preparation for the move. Some books which have been on open access need to be temporarily moved into closed access to be shelved in sequence. This particularly affects books at B.0 (British bibliography), place names series and folios. They can still be requested if required, and will be returning to open access after the move. Please check the catalogue for details of specific items.

The fetch service and staffing of the enquiry office may also be disrupted during the next 2 weeks. We will guarantee a fetch at 9am and 2pm, but other times (11am and 4.30pm) may be affected, and you are advised to check with library or reception staff if a request is urgent (020 7862 8760/8740).

The library will close completely from Saturday 16th August to Saturday 30th August inclusive. We hope to reopen in the north block on Monday 1st September but please check the IHR website and blog for updates nearer the time..

We apologise for the disruption caused during this period, but we have attempted to keep the closure period to a minimum. We’re looking forward to welcoming you to the refurbished IHR complete with the much missed common room!

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Further update on relocation plans: August closure dates


SHentranceTo facilitate the IHR’s return to the Senate House north block, it has now been confirmed that the library will close from Saturday 16th August to Saturday 30th August inclusive. Room bookings during this time will be unaffected.

We plan to reopen in the north block on Monday 1st September but please check the IHR website and blog for updates nearer the time.

We apologise for any disruption caused during the move, but look forward to welcoming you to the refurbished IHR. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to staff in the library enquiry office in the first instance, or contact us on or 020 7862 8760.

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IHR move back to refurbished north block: August 2014


P1160305The refurbishment is going to schedule and we are expecting the move back to the Senate House north block to take place in late August, to coincide with the period when the Institute of Classical Studies closes (16th – 30th August). There will be some disruption to services during this time, and we expect the library to be closed for a minimum of 5 days while the books are moved. You are advised to avoid planning visits during this period. We look forward to welcoming you to the refurbished Institute by early September.

Further details will be announced shortly, but if you have any questions or concerns, please talk to staff in the library enquiry office in the first instance, or contact us on or 020 7862 8760

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Collection locations in the refurbished IHR library


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.

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Plans for the refurbished IHR library


As described previously, work on the IHR refurbishment is well underway, and we expect to be returning to the Senate House North block in August or September this year.


First Floor Axonometric view. Illustrations courtesy of BDP. For illustrative purposes only.

The library will have a smaller footprint than before, but the layout has been carefully planned to maximise shelving and reader desk spaces. The two main floors (first and second) have been reconfigured to create a more open layout with fixed and rolling stack shelving. Four seminar rooms, three on the second floor and one on the first, will double-up as library rooms to take full advantage of the space.

To the west of the staircase on the first floor will be a room housing most of the library’s folio and map collection, with a larger desk to facilitate use of oversized material. As before, the library will have a current periodicals reading room next to the common room on the ground floor. There will also be shelving and reader spaces in the basement. The rest of the basement and the third floor will house conference and training facilities for the IHR’s rich programme of events.


General view looking through library. Illustrations courtesy of BDP. For illustrative purposes only.

A dedicated reprographics room on the second floor will house new photocopier and scanning equipment. New microform scanning facilities will also be provided. Bespoke reader desks have been designed to incorporate power and data points and lighting. Metal shelving with glass and timber end panels is being supplied by Ecospace, in a similar style to our current shelving. A lot of care has gone into the design of the space to accentuate and complement the architecture of Senate House, and the lighting schemes are both functional and visually appealing.

This week we have received the final library shelving plans and can now complete the collection layout plans. We expect to have around twice as much open-access shelving as we do now. The rest of the collection will continue to be available through a fetch service. Further information on these arrangements will follow, but if you have any questions or comments or would like to view the plans, please visit us in the IHR library enquiry office, or contact us on or 020 7862 8760

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IHR to return to its North Block ‘home’


DSCN0281After three years the IHR will be returning to its ‘home’ in the north block following completion of its £8m refurbishment.  Everything is on track with the contractors ISG, ably managed by BDP, for the finishing of the works by mid- July 2014 which will allow the library, staff and other resources to move back during August and early September.

Most of the noisy works have now been completed including the shaft for a new lift for Senate House Library and structural works to the floors.  Specialist lime plastering continues and will be finished by the end of January.

Designs  for the library shelving and furniture and toilets are virtually complete and agreed.

BDP are working with ISG to set up a sample room on the third floor which will include completed ceilings, walls, decorations, floors, electric heater and lighting.  We will include a picture of this in our next bulletin.

Fitting out of the space will commence around March/April.  Site visits will be made regularly from that point on by IHR senior management.

Readers who are also members of SHL will be pleased to know that access between the 2 libraries will be available via the 4th floor, creating a united history collection for the first time.

Further postings will contain details of the approximate dates for library moves during the summer.

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