The Collections team at The University of Sussex Library is split into four areas over two sites; in the Library are Collection Development and the BLDS Legacy Collection project team. Then over the road at The Keep are Special Collections and Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH). The team is led by Collections Manager, Richard Wragg. What work is involved in each of the four areas? Well who better to ask than the team themselves…
We are the team that is responsible for managing the stock in the Library building and ensuring that the print and online resources for our users support the current teaching and research activities of the University. We are a project based team, with a rolling programme of stock reviews examining book stock by shelfmark, journal subscriptions for each department, audiovisual and online resources. Creating exciting new collections that are fully discoverable and accessible to users also forms a significant part of our work, for example we have been reviewing the former Documents Collection to form the Legacy Collection of rare pamphlets and ephemera covering themes such as Social Movements, War, Gender Studies and Feminism and Post World War Two World Order. Space management is also a huge part of our work and we enjoy the ongoing challenge of making sure that new books coming in have a home on uncluttered shelves, ready to be discovered by our users.
We are a small team based at The Keep. Our main role is providing high quality services and collection care to meet the needs of learning and research at the University and wider communities. The University Special Collections comprise nearly 200 archive and book collections. The most popular collections are the papers of Virginia Woolf, The Mass Observation Archive and Project and the University’s own historic archive. In general, the collections cover 20th and 21st century literary, social and political history. We work with partners at The Keep, providing access to the collections in the reading room and assisting researchers from all over the UK and beyond. We are responsible for the care and preservation of the collections, including digital collections. We facilitate teaching sessions using the archives and work closely with colleagues in the Library to promote the use of Special Collections, as well as introducing students to archive handling and archive literacy. We hope that our friendly and enthusiastic approach will inspire the confidence to do their own research in the archives.
BLDS Legacy Collection
The British Library for Development Studies (BLDS) Legacy collection is located in the basement of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), and tracks the unfolding story of international development and health systems in the Global South over the last half century. The collection (containing over a million items) is uniquely comprehensive in its coverage of government and official sources, particularly those published in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia between the mid-1960s and mid-1990s, as well as from other countries that were key sites of development and health research and innovation during this time. Other types of material held include international agency reports and statistics; pamphlets and writings by civil society actors, research institutions and political parties; documents from participatory and community-based research; and journals and related books. Its value lies both in the breadth and scope of its contents, and the fact that the collection mainly derives from low- and middle-income countries where limited funds, civil conflict, environmental disasters and simple neglect has often led to substantial archival destruction. The main work of the three-year Wellcome-funded BLDS Legacy Collection Project will be to make these diverse, yet interrelated, materials accessible and user friendly through cataloguing, tagging and cross-referencing, the creation of integrated guidelines that will help researchers better understand the collection as a whole, and re-housing and preserving the collections.
Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH)
The Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) team works to preserve historic sound recordings that are at risk of being lost due to physical deterioration or the lack of playback equipment. Recordings on older formats (mainly tape and minidisc) are digitised for preservation and then catalogued for discovery through archive catalogues and the British Library’s Sound and Moving Image catalogue. By the end of the project (November 2021), at least 3500 items will have been digitised and catalogued. In order to improve access to sound recordings, the project is clearing them for copyright and data protection, and reviewing for sensitivity, so that some recordings will be available for online listening through a new website to be launched in spring 2021. UOSH has been working in partnership with a local group, Open Strings Music, to run a series of engagement activities around the theme of listening and sound, and in its final year will be offering other opportunities for the public to hear the sound collections and learn about preserving their own recordings.
UOSH is a national project run by the British Library and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. The Keep Archives is the South East Hub for the project, one of 10 Hubs across the UK, and is preserving and improving access to sound recordings from collections across the region.