The Hartley Library at the University of Southampton has an extensive collection of printed British official publications, known as the Ford Collection. The collection is named after the late Professor Percy Ford and his wife Dr Grace Ford who brought the initial collection, which we continue to build, to the University of Southampton in the 1950s. The Fords compiled ‘breviates’ or ‘select lists’ of official publications, in seven volumes covering the years 1833 – 1983. Their work was the impetus behind our later activities when technology and external funding enabled us to work collaboratively with other libraries in order to provide a selection of full-text digitised British official publications, free for all to use. Sadly, storage and delivery of such an immense amount of data is not without costs and we had to abandon our web services, EPPI and BOPCRIS, but we have worked to find ways to continue free access to the documents.
We are now moving the materials to Internet Archive. We have established two subsets, ‘British Parliamentary Publications’ and ‘British non-Parliamentary Publications’ . These hold previously digitised EPPI and BOPCRIS papers, with some additional non-Parliamentary publications which have been scanned by the in-house Hartley Library Digitisation Unit (LDU). In total, there are about 16,000 documents, including the full EPPI collection which comprises 13,700 documents. Other highlights include some very hard-to-find older departmental publications, e.g. a 1991 consultation on aircraft noise, https://archive.org/details/op1278555-1001 . Our current hope is to continue adding more non-Parliamentary materials from our collection, as we are aware that this is the area of least on-line provision.
We chose Internet Archive for many reasons, but here are just two. For researchers, it is now a well-known source and is free for all to use. For libraries wishing to share their open access digital collections, it offers a free and sustainable delivery mechanism.
An article with more detail has been submitted to Refer, the journal of the Information Services Group of CILIP. If you have any questions or comments, please contact the University of Southampton Library Digitisation Unit by e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org
* EPPI: Enhanced Parliamentary Papers on Ireland, 1801 – 1922 and BOPCRIS: British Official Publications Collaborative Reader Information Service
Law and Politics Librarian, Hartley Library, University of Southampton