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Department of Information Studies


A note on the ‘institution of a School for the training of Librarians’ at University College London by Professor Elizabeth Shepherd

By Ian G Evans, on 24 September 2019

In November 1917, the President of the Library Association, Sir John MacAlister, wrote to the Provost of UCL ‘to enquire whether it would be possible to institute at University College a School of Librarianship…to be established in co-operation with the Library Association’. The London School of Economics had offered a course in librarianship in co-operation with the Library Association (LA) between 1902 and 1915, but that had lapsed during the War. The arrangement had been that the LA paid the fees of the lecturers whom they also recommended, while the LSE provided teaching space and other expenses, however, initial healthy numbers dwindled to 3 or 6 students by 1915. After some further discussions, a proposal was sent to the Professorial Board, which set up a Committee to confer with the Library Association. The Committee reported positively on the proposal on 22 March 2018, having reassured itself that the LSE did not propose to resume its earlier course. The Director of the LSE concluded that ‘the number of new recruits to librarianship…was so small as to preclude any hope of making an institution of the kind successful’.

Recommendations went to the College Committee, ‘that it is desirable to institute a School for Librarianship at University College, provided that the necessary Endowment Fund is forthcoming’. The Library Association had been in communication with the Carnegie Trustees seeking an annual grant to support the School which was ‘receiving their sympathetic consideration’. A Joint Sub-Committee between UCL and the LA was invited to prepare a scheme for submission to the UCL Committee. The ambition was to have ‘something founded upon the lines that will enable it to develop into a University School of librarianship comparable with the great Schools of Librarianship in the United States’.

The proposal was to establish a staff comprising a Director, a Secretary, and Teaching Staff in four core areas of study, ie Bibliography, Classification, Cataloguing, Library History, Organisation and Routine. Special courses would also be provided in Literary History, Palaeography and the Study of Archives, and Indexing. The LA proposed to transfer its extensive library of ‘Technical Library Literature’ to UCL. The Carnegie Trust agreed to fund the School for five years initially at the rate of £1500 per annum. The scheme was approved by the University of London Senate and the plan was to start teaching in October 1919.

In June 1919, UCL College Committee approved a statement of the duties and terms of appointment of the Director of the School of Librarianship and agreed to appoint Dr E A Baker, Secretary to the Education Committee of the LA and on the Joint Committee. A row then erupted between the University Senate and the LA, after the LA Council passed a resolution disapproving of Baker’s appointment and insisting that the Directorship be advertised. It seems that some members of the LA had hoped to start a school at a northern university and were seeking to derail the UCL proposal. However, after reconsideration and lawyers’ letters, the University and UCL prevailed and Dr Baker’s appointment was confirmed in August 1919. Sir Frederick Kenyon was invited to deliver the address at the opening of the School of Librarianship in October 1919.

In its first decade, 387 full time and 289 part time students completed courses, some sponsored by local education authorities such as London County Council which sponsored 50 places for London librarians. The School expanded to occupy most of the Henry Morley Building at UCL. The Carnegie Trust renewed its grant for a second five year period. In 1930, UCL started to fund raise for a capital investment of £50,000 to secure the School’s future.

Elizabeth Shepherd



UCL Special Collections, Records Office UCLCA/CC: UCL Minutes of College Committee, 17/10/1917 to 2/07/1918, Meeting 5/03/1918; Meeting 30/04/1918; Meeting 3/06/1919.

University of London Library: University Correspondence Central File, 1918-1919 CF 1/19/208, including letters from Carnegie Trust.

University of London Library: UL 3/7, miscellaneous papers on the School of Librarianship, 1901-1930.

Congratulations to Simons Cloudesley and Justine Humphreys,

By Ian G Evans, on 14 November 2018

Congratulations to Simons Cloudesley and Justine Humphreys, students on the MA in LIS programme, whose work with the Refugee Echo Library this summer has been recognised in the CILIP Information Professional Magazine. Simon and Justine’s travel was funded by the Dean’s Strategic Fund at UCL. To learn more about their work in Greece, please follow the link to the article:

Article:  https://www.ucl.ac.uk/information-studies/sites/information-studies/files/infopro_oct18_pp40-43.pdf

Cover:  https://www.ucl.ac.uk/information-studies/sites/information-studies/files/infopro_cover_oct18.pdf

What would the country look like under proportional representation?

By Oliver W Duke-Williams, on 11 May 2015

Image source:The 2015 UK General Election was most notable for producing a result – a Conservative majority – that few had predicted. Perhaps the second most discussed aspect has been the difference between the amount of votes gained by smaller parties, and the number of seats that they won. Between them Ukip and the Green Party won about 5million votes, but just 2 seats.

It’s possible to use published voting results to redraw the country as if proportional respresention was in play, with each party being awarded a number of seats based on the proportion of the overall vote that they gained.

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Safeguarded flow data sets from the 2011 Census

By Oliver W Duke-Williams, on 3 December 2014

New flow data sets from the 2011 Census of Population are being made available by the Office for National Statistics for the first time today via the FlowData website and other sources. FlowData is part of the Census Support, a value-added part of the UK Data Service; the flowdata team are Oliver Duke-Williams and Vassilis Routsis, of the Department of Information Studies at UCL.

Flow data – also known as interaction data or origin-destination data – are a specialised form of data about flows of people between two locations. These include migration flows between an origin and a destination, and journey-to-work flows between a residence and a workplace.

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Team Europe Research Project 03 (2013-14): UCL

By Ian G Evans, on 1 September 2014


The Role of the Records Manager in an Open Government Environment in the UK

Think of the potential social justices, innovations and developments in a world where there is greater government transparency, participation, accessibility and accountability. In April 2014 I was given the outstanding opportunity to contribute to research, which will help to lead to such developments. I am an InterPARES Trust researcher at the Department of Information Studies, UCL currently conducting a project, which is part of fundamental ongoing research into Open Data, Open Government and access to information. The central aim of the project is to consider the role of recordkeepers in the context of new obligations on UK government bodies towards open government, open data and enabling greater information access to citizens. We are particularly interested the proactive release of data and information by public sector organizations under the provisions of open government initiatives.The Open Government Data and access to public sector information environment in the UK and Europe in particular, is being transformed and therefore throws up questions about the roles and responsibilities of the professionals who are engaged in delivering services to citizens. Recordkeeping policy on access and the legislative and regulatory frameworks need to be clarified and the role of the recordkeeper within this framework needs to be examined.

The lead researchers for the project are Doctor Andrew Flinn and Professor Elizabeth Shepherd, who can be contacted with any further questions about the research project on the following email addresses: a.flinn@ucl.ac.uke.shepherd@ucl.ac.uk

For the complete version of this blog post, please refer to the following link: http://www.irms.org.uk/irms-blog/entry/open-government-data-research

UCL and King’s College London lead Academic Book of the Future Project

By Ian G Evans, on 26 August 2014

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Library are launching a two-year research project which will explore the future of academic books in the context of open access publishing and continuing digital change.

Dr Samantha Rayner, Director of the Centre for Publishing at the University College London (UCL) will lead the project ‘Communities of Practice: The Academic Book of the Future’. Alongside colleagues Simon Tanner and Professor Marilyn Deegan from King’s College London and Nick Canty from UCL. See full details.

Linked Open Bibliographic Data: Creating an Open, Linked and Interactive Educational Resource for Bibliographic Data

By Anne Welsh, on 25 July 2014

ELDG Grant

A team from DIS has been awarded an Elearning Development Grant (ELDG) from UCL ELE (E-Learning Environments) to develop a linked open data bibliographic dataset based on BIBFRAME, the new standard for bibliographic records. Being based on RDF – the standard metadata language for the Web – BIBFRAME enables semantically interlinking bibliographic datasets on the Web, and improves the interaction with web users by enabling them to access, retrieve and update bibliographic records online. The aim of this project is to develop a BIBFRAME dataset as an Open Educational Resource, which will help students learn the new standard in an interactive way, and in the same time become familiar with state-of-the art web technologies.

A key component of ELDG projects is student involvement, and we are currently recruiting a student systems developer to work alongside Dr Antonis Bikakis and Anne Welsh to carry out programming work and develop content. Later in the project, they will receive guidance from Simon Mahony on the creation of Open Education Resources. Dr Charlie Inskip will work with a group of students to devise and implement iterative evaluation strategies for the project.

There has been a great deal of interest in BIBFRAME within the UK cataloguing community. We will be looking for experienced practitioners to test the resource in 2015. If you are a cataloguer who is interested in testing, you can let yourself be known to Anne Welsh at the Cataloguing and Indexing Group conference in Canterbury in September, or watch LIS-UKBIBS for invitations to focus groups and to the dissemination activities at the end of the project.

The Linked Open Bibliographic Data team are: Dr Antonis Bikakis (Project Lead), Anne Welsh (Project Coordinator), Simon Mahony and Dr Charlie Inskip.

We would like to thank Dr Rob Miller (DIS Head of Department) and Dr Mira Vogel (Faculty Elearning Facilitator) for their encouragement.

Image: E-Learning Development Grants page, UCL ELE.

Second David Tebbutt Scholarship Announced

By Ian G Evans, on 21 July 2014

We are proud to announce that Faber and Faber and UCL have awarded the second David Tebbutt scholarship to Helen Hughes, currently in her final year studying English, history and creative writing at the National University of Ireland in Galway. The Scholarship was established in memory of the late David Tebbutt, Finance Director of Faber and Faber from 2002 until his untimely death in September 2011.

The UCL David Tebbutt Scholarship is awarded annually, to fully fund a place on the UCL MA in Publishing programme. The scholarship is funded by the David Tebbutt Trust, which is jointly administered by Faber and Faber and the Tebbutt family. The principal aim of the Trust is to further the education of those wishing to pursue a career in the publishing, writing and information industries, and related fields of activity. As well as funding a full year’s fees, the scholarship also carries a guaranteed work placement with Faber and Faber.

More information on the prize can be found http://www.ucl.ac.uk/publishing/how-to-apply

Please contact Dr Samantha Rayner for more details: s.rayner@ucl.ac.uk

Wrong number?

By Oliver W Duke-Williams, on 7 July 2014

The Labour Party has recently launched a new website which tells you your supposed ‘NHS Baby Number‘ – that is, if all the babies born under the NHS were placed in order, which one you would be, from the very first, born on July 5th 1948, to the very latest.

It is an interesting piece of viral marketing / campaigning, but one which deserves a little more critical attention.

[EDIT 18/05/18: A revised version of this site has appeared in the lead up to the 70th anniversary of the NHS, so I’ve updated the data used for my estimate. Labour have improved their retention policy, in that they ask you first, but have extended the data gathering to potentially record family structure as well. My other criticisms about the reference to the census remain as they were.]

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Selling Rights course announced by the UCL Centre for Publishing: July 31st – August 1st 2014

By Ian G Evans, on 26 June 2014

uclpublishing-200The sale of rights is crucial to the activities of literary agencies and publishing houses, and can be a major factor in building an author’s career and maintaining author loyalty. For publishers, the sale of rights can also have a major influence on the overall publishing decision and on their profitability.

This new two-day course is aimed at staff handling rights for literary agencies and publishing houses. It will cover the rationale for selling rights as well as the practicalities – checking control of the rights and maintaining an accurate database of submissions and sales, as well as key activities such as researching particular markets, identifying potential licensees and building personal contacts at book fairs and on sales trips.

The course will address a range of different rights categories, from English language deals in the UK and abroad, translation rights, serial rights to newspapers and magazines as well as non-print rights such as radio and audio rights, film and television rights and merchandising. It will cover the rationale for coedition versus licence deals, and offer practical advice on how to achieve the best deal and finalise appropriate licence contracts. The final session will cover electronic publishing and will aim to distinguish between arrangements which are sales channels to market, and those which are true electronic licensing deals.

The course will include two group exercises for delegates. Your tutors have a wide range of experience in different sectors of the book industry.

Full details and the application form can be found at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/publishing/events/programme