Diversity & Inclusion

Senate House Library is committed to maximising the diversity of voices by reviewing past and current practices, collections and services as well as ensuring inclusivity is built into and at the heart of collection strategies and decision making in future.

Students studying in Library

Diversity & Inclusion

Senate House Library is committed to maximising the diversity of voices by reviewing past and current practices, collections and services as well as ensuring inclusivity is built into and at the heart of collection strategies and decision making in future.

Libraries and archives have an important role to play in improving diversity and inclusion. Senate House Library is committed to maximising the diversity of voices by reviewing past and current practices, collections and services as well as ensuring inclusivity is built into and at the heart of collection strategies and decision making in future.  

With over 2 million items and over 150 years of history in the Library, it is vital to review collections while recognising that this is no small task and one that is continual, never finished.   

From August 2020 until July 2021, research was undertaken to develop a Collection Development Strategy that covers three main elements assessing: 

  1. Existing collections to identify problematic and unjustly marginalised material, to maximise the diversity of the voices, authors and publishers in our printed collections 

  1. Acquisition of new material, reviewing processes to determine whether we are doing enough to proactively engage with underrepresented groups to encourage diversification of deposited material.  

  1. Terminology used in descriptions on the catalogue to ensure a more inclusive language or content warnings to emphasise historical context where appropriate.  

With a proactive approach to diversity and inclusion, Senate House Library continues to evolve and seeks to ensure collections represent all Library users, regardless of race, gender,  sexual orientation, physical ability, age, and political or religious beliefs.

Case Studies

Exploring Senate House Library’s Anglophone Caribbean Literature Collection

An Overview of the Anglophone Caribbean Literature Collection 

Spineless wonders

Senate House Library’s Anglophone Caribbean Literature Collection (ACLC) contains a mixture of primary texts such as novels, poetry, plays as well as secondary, critical works. The collection holds a number of key texts for the study of Caribbean literature, and also includes some which are less well-known, including from some smaller, non-academic presses. There is a strong emphasis on twentieth-century writers.  

The collection is arranged via country, using the Library of Congress classification system. The current location of the collection is not conducive to serendipitous browsing and discovery. The collection is currently underutilised as a resource for both research and leisure reading, and its distinctness as an Anglophone Caribbean collection has been somewhat subsumed within the wider Latin American designation. 

Beyond the ACLC, this review project will also consider and bring together Anglophone Caribbean Literature where it exists in other areas of the SHL collections. There is some overlap between the ACLC and the English Collection in the area of Black British Writing, and also the Ron Heisler Collection, the journals collections and the ICOMM collections and archives.  

Enriching The Collection 

The objective of the project is to make Anglophone Caribbean Literature a more distinct, visible and valuable resource within SHL for both research and leisure reading by: 

  1. Reviewing the ACLC holdings noting strengths and gaps: authors, publishers, key texts, movements. Bibliographies will be created as a first step as will a ‘wish list’ of items to purchase. 

  1. Reviewing sympathetic collection areas within SHL to bring together key resources: such as the Ron Heisler Collection, the Journals collections, and the Archives. Bibliographies will be created as a first step. 

  1. Adding books and other items to fill the gaps where possible and appropriate - using aforementioned ‘Wish List’ 

  1. Promoting the strengths to Researchers & Leisure readers 

  1. Scoping the possibility of building the collection into the 21st century, with particular emphasis on developing relationships with Caribbean (and Caribbean diaspora) publishers.  

Progress & Achievements 

  • Bibliographies of key texts are continuing to be checked against our holdings and noted for strengths and gaps. 

  • More items have been purchased and added to the Anglophone Caribbean Literature collection. 

  • Blogs and events promoting the works published by Anglophone Caribbean diaspora community presses such as Bogle L’Ouverture, Black Ink and Centerprise have featured in Being Human festival 2020LRBS Spineless Spotlights event 2021Blog written for SHL 2020;  

  • SHL150 online gallery celebrating 150 years of SHL’s collections features highlights from the Anglophone Caribbean Literature collection. 

  • Events & blogs in for 2021 include the forthcoming Spineless Wonders project and a blog to celebrate ‘Proud To Be’ Black History Month October 2021.  

Project undertaken by Leila Kassir, Academic Librarian for British, US, Commonwealth, Latin American and Caribbean Literature