Librarians and archivists are great at collaborating. Library collections are often built up with a specific remit so as not to overlap too much with other local or specialist libraries. The Institute of Historical Research library collections, for example, have always focused on Western European and American history, leaving other regions to the nearby libraries of the School of Oriental and African Studies and the School of Slavonic and East European Studies. Similarly the Senate House Library and IHR history collections have been built up to be complementary, with the IHR focusing on primary source material and Senate House Library collecting monographs and other secondary material. We continue to work closely together when selecting material.
Libraries and archives also complement each other. The IHR library includes a range of guides, bibliographies and calendars which can be a useful starting point for research. Michael Little from the National Archives library has written more about this in a recent blog post. As he says, ‘it’s helpful to see archives and libraries as working in conjunction with each rather than as being separate entities’.
On January 20th 2015, we will be hosting the second History Libraries and Research open Day in the MacMillan Hall on the ground floor of Senate House. The idea for an open day originated with the Committee for London Research Libraries in History which was itself founded out of a desire to have a forum for libraries to share ideas and collaborate. The event will bring together libraries and archives from across London to provide information about library collections and workshops and presentations about research methods and skills. Researchers will have the opportunity to talk to staff and find out more about relevant collections.
Librarians also work collaboratively in enquiry work – helping readers to find material in our own institutions, but also pointing out where other organisations have related or more specialist collections. The fair is a great opportunity for students – and for library/archive staff – to meet each other and discover the sometimes hidden gems available in libraries and archives in London and beyond.