As promised, I am back with Geek World, Part 2. Today I will talk about membership in the Senate House library and the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) Library.
The Senate House is located right in the heart of the University of London. It’s a huge white building, right in front of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. (Those who are a little bad with directions, please don’t refer to your navigator for help, as it will show the Senate House library right behind the British Library, whereas you need to walk for at least 15 minutes from there!)
The Senate House library can be reached by taking bus no. 91 or 59 from LSE. Get down at the British Library, and from there walk to the UCL campus. A Pret A Manger in front of the British Library is your landmark, from where you need to keep walking straight.
The Senate House and IHR library are located in the same building. The IHR library re- opened recently, with a new collection of printed archives. I visited the Senate house library on a tour which my department, International History, organized for its students. (And that’s my source of trivia, if any on the library!)
The Senate house library has beautiful reading rooms located on the fourth and fifth floors, and each reading room is significant for its own set of archives. The first reading room (and the oldest), is the Goldsmith’s reading room, which has an immense collection of music records, and also trade history records and is an excellent resource for anyone pursuing research on these two topics. There are three more reading rooms, and one of them is an informal space with sofas where periodicals from around the world are kept. (the smell of the books really takes you back to the eighteenth century!).
Wi- fi can be accessed in the library, though during rush hour periods it might be a little slow. Now, coming back to the title of my essay – membership is the simplest thing ever. Nothing complicated, nor mundane.
All you need is your LSE ID, and you can get your Senate House library card. 😀 (And, it’s free!) The Application form can be completed at the desk, where you need to provide just basic data, i.e., your current address, e- mail, etc.
There are more reading rooms located on the fifth floor library, and the expansive history collection of the library is also spread out on the same floor. The building is supported by the weight of the books, post the seventh floor, according to the architectural design! The floors post seventh floor can’t be accessed, as it is the repository of books, and some books are also stored at a warehouse in Surrey. So it might happen that some books may take more than 24 hours to reach after they have been ordered, so do check out the online catalogue once before leaving home.
The library also offers facilities like issuing – 15 books can be issued for up to four weeks. Certain books are only available for two weeks, and some others are just reference books. The library also fills up any void in its collection by referring students to the SOAS library right in front of it, where any student of the University of London (including LSE students), can access the books for reference.
Right below the Senate House library is the Institute of Historical Research, which has its expansive archival library. The library is great if you want to look at print archives, i.e., newspapers. Further details about IHR.
Membership at the IHR is also simple, one needs to provide their Student ID card and a proof of address for registration, which is free. The proof of address can be passport, driving license, recent utility bill, or equivalent (for UK residents). For international/EU students, please provide your University residence letter, or accommodation electricity bill, or its equivalent.
UK is a hub for education and there is no dearth of libraries for those willing to research! For those interested in primary source materials, check out the National Archives at Kew, those researching on the Holocaust should definitely visit the Wiener Library. As an anonymous writer famously said, “If there is a paradise, it is in a library”, I believe that we can all build our own paradise in these beautiful repositories of books!