Annual Report 2008-09 - Information Committee Contents

CHAPTER 6: Library services

Collections Management Policy

24.  The Library was established in 1826 primarily as a collection of English law books. Over the following century the collection expanded to include a range of parliamentary and legal material along with a fairly eclectic mix of general books—some by purchase and others as donations. In 1977 there was a review of Library services, which led to a more formal policy of conservation and selective purchase being taken with regard to the Library's collection. In recent years the Library has limited the subject range of the collection to areas related to parliamentary business—chiefly law, politics, history, economics, international affairs, education and social sciences.

25.  In May 2009, the Committee discussed the Library's collection management policy with the Deputy Librarian. The primary focus of the Library's policy is to meet user needs by preserving texts relevant to the history and function of the House and by acquiring new material in a range of formats relevant to current Lords business. We welcomed the clear strategy the Library has for acquisition, retention, storage, conservation and disposal of stock.

Transfer of the Law Lords' Collection

26.  The House of Lords Library maintained a largely duplicate collection of legal texts, periodicals and sets of key legal authorities for the Law Lords. In October 2003 we agreed that this collection should move with the Law Lords to the new Supreme Court building when it became available. The Committee received an update in May on the transfer of the Law Lords' collection of books and periodicals to the new Supreme Court. The transfer of the collection, which has since gone ahead smoothly, in no way diminishes the continuing role of the Library's main legal collection as a key resource for Parliament.

Research services

27.  Members value the research service offered by the House of Lords Library. The two surveys of Members' wishes (in 2004 and 2008) and research commissioned by the Library in 2006 showed that Members rate the research service highly in terms of its importance in helping them to carry out their parliamentary work, and in terms of satisfaction. Members also indicated, however, that there could usefully be more capacity to carry out on-demand research, as well as providing briefing in advance of debates in the House. The Committee has been involved in planning how to respond to the increasing demand for research services from Members.

28.  The Library is planning to increase the number of researchers when new office space becomes available at the 1 Millbank Island Site. In the interim, the Library has secured agreement to bring forward one of the additional new posts for a researcher in the 2009-10 financial year. With this additional post, we hope that the Library's research team should be able to continue to meet Members' needs for on-demand research, while also being better able to anticipate Members' needs by producing briefing materials proactively. The research team aims to anticipate major debates on the floor of the House (second readings of Government bills, Thursday debates, selected Private Members' Bills, etc.) and deliver one of its products to Members. The kind of product delivered depends on the nature of the debate and the material available, as well as on the capacity of the research team to balance this proactive work with on-demand enquiries at any given time.

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