At the heart of the IHR and its redevelopment is the library, which will be expanding to include the University’s history borrowing collection, to be housed at the top of our wing with direct access to and from the IHR’s research collections below. All visitors will have use of the grand, galleried reading room, and the IHR will also be equipped with new conference and research training suites and an expansion of room for our Fellows and postgraduate students. The new space will sympathetically preserve the original ethos and layout of the Institute, whilst expanding our capacity to deliver more events, training and teaching, as well as enabling the IHR to become the home of choice for new research projects and centres.
We also will be expanding access to the library virtually. Since 1993 the IHR has been at the forefront of using innovative digital technology to support scholars and the wider public. We have successfully migrated many of the listings and database services - including those for events, teacher directories, theses indexes, bibliographies and reviews - traditionally carried in a print format to online delivery, and with British History Online we have developed a unique portal enabling a large proportion of the printed primary sources in our Library.
Now we are ready for a new challenge. With the opportunities offered by Web 2.0, social networking and advanced audio and video transmission, we aim to transport even more of the activity which the IHR has been running for nearly 90 years into the virtual environment. We also plan to modernise and develop our Library in keeping with the ‘history laboratory’ ethos, in order to deliver a first-class history collection alongside the latest training techniques in historical research.
Our plans include a suite of services encompassing research training and Continuing Professional Development in digital technology for historians, live-streaming of seminars, further digitisation projects, and a new programme for collaborative online editing. As we recreate much of what the IHR does in the new digital environment, we will be able to ensure that the IHR’s collections are available to a much broader and international audience.
The Library is a national and international scholarly resource of the greatest importance, and it is vital that this magnificent collection should be available, in optimum conditions, for generations still to come.Sir John Elliott, Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History, University of Oxford