There is an upcoming free online course which may be of some interest to many of our blog readers: the Houses of Parliament, in conjunction with Future Learn have produced a free online course which will introduce learners to the work and role of the UK Parliament. From setting the age at which we start school to deciding pension policy, the UK Parliament makes laws that impact our lives, our work and our wider society. There are no special requirements for enrolment; this is an introductory course and is open to anyone who has an interest in developing their understanding of the UK Parliament.
Steven Hartshorne, Secretary of SCOOP
The Foreign Office was created in 1782 and merged to become the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in 1968. The historical library collection of the FCO was transferred to Kings College London in 2007 on permanent loan. The collection comprises of over 80,000 items to include photographs and manuscripts. For the historian this is an excellent primary resource. As the FCO was the department responsible for the conduct of relations with nearly all foreign states they are a window to Britain’s colonial past covering subjects such as slavery and the abolition of, railways, expeditions, diplomatic relations and war.
The majority of the collection is housed in the Foyle Special Collections Library. Anyone can view the collections though if you are not a member of Kings College a prior appointment is advisable. The collection is not lending but copies can be supplied and readers are allowed to use their own cameras. Approximately 50% of the collection is not catalogued but the library team welcome enquiries about subject coverage and will locate relevant material for viewing. For material that is catalogued the main library catalogue can be used.
The records of the department and staff itself are held by The National Archives who also hold substantial collections of FCO material.
For a quick overview please see the introductory leaflet.
Hannah Chandler, Bodleian Libraries Oxford
Second reading is a really useful, informative blog! You can subscribe to the blog and, for example, be alerted to a new publication, a recent debate or relevant statistics (with links) from government, parliament and wider and be briefed about the issues and context. There are also posts on salient issues such as ‘Steel in crisis: timeline and events in Parliament‘, published on April 27 2016. Blog posts are a great way to get a brief introduction into what can be very complex subjects, some posts also have links to more in depth research briefings that the House of Commons Library and its research service produce.
Hannah Chandler, Official Papers Librarian, Bodleian Libraries, Oxford
From 1 April 2016, Parliament moved into a new era of producing its own documents and materials emanating from the House of Commons and House of Lords. From 1 April 2016, The Stationery Office Ltd (TSO) no longer produced House of Lords materials and only a limited range of Commons material is being produced until 1 January 2017 i.e. Commons Bills, Explanatory Notes and some Commons Select Committees.
However TSO will continue to upload the parliamentary documents in PDF format to its online library Official Publications Online (OPO) www.officialpublicationsonline.co.uk and to continue to update the documents with the same range of ISBN numbers. The TSO Official Publications Online library collection remains in place and continues to be updated each day. The TSO Daily and Weekly Lists include details of the PDFs uploaded to the OPO Library www.officialpublicationsonline.co.uk The collection does not include Bound Volumes.
For parliamentary materials published before 1 April 2016 and for Commons Bills, Explanatory Notes and some Commons Select Committees pre 1 January 2017, there is no change in supply from TSO. TSO continues to offer print format copies of these materials, including the bespoke services of sourcing and supplying parliamentary materials from its extensive archive, dating back to the 19th century.
It must be noted that the supply of House and Command Papers and Legislation Papers from TSO in print format, is not affected by the Parliamentary changes and the supply position from TSO remains unchanged.
As Parliament moves into this new era of printing internally, TSO continues to support those sourcing parliamentary materials, past and present.
For further information please contact TSO Ltd:
Email: Officialpubsonline@tso.co.uk : Phone 0333 200 2429
Responsibility for the information set out in this post lies entirely with The Stationery Office Ltd.
From April 2016 Dandy have continued to publish all House of Lords Papers, Bills and Hansard, a service not offered by any other publisher. Dandy believe print still has an important role in library collections. Let’s consider the recent Iraq Inquiry (also referred to as the Chilcot Inquiry) a twelve volume set published as HC 265, the Inquiry was announced in 2009 and was seven years in the making. This report should be available in academic and public libraries in hard copy.
Dandy also believe in digital supply and the need to make official information easily accessible. Dandy offer through Public Information Online (PIO)* an excellent platform and search interface to over 100,000 parliamentary and government publications from the UK Parliament and devolved assemblies dating comprehensively from 2006/07 with the archive of certain titles going back to the 1950s. The very latest publications are available on PIO as it is updated on an hourly basis. Subscribers to PIO are entitled to a daily feed of information and Dandy also supply a weekly list of everything they publish.
Dandy gather together information, for example, all the pieces of evidence presented to Select Committees and provide them in a consistent consolidated pdf. Whilst the Select Committees do have freely available public websites many are not friendly in the way they provide the evidence. The evidence is an important part and many inquirers are more interested in the evidence than in the final report. A recent example of this is:
Science and Technology Committee 6th Report. Evidence Check: Smart metering of electricity and gas Volume 2. Oral and Written evidence
This is available as one consolidated pdf on Public Information Online. However, please see the Parliament website:
As you can see the Written Evidence is in 45 separate pdfs.
Additionally Dandy consolidate non parliamentary key titles from departments like Office for National Statistics (ONS) Ministry of Justice (MOJ), Ministry of Defence (MOD), Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC), examples being Construction Statistics 2016, Digest of United Kingdom energy statistics 2016, Offender Management Caseload Statistics 2015, Defence Statistics, Environmental Accounts etc. Please see all the data tables associated with Environmental Accounts:
Each data set contains multiple spreadsheets. We provide a 440 page print copy or fully searchable pdf, please note everything we publish appears on our PIO Shop to purchase as print copies:
Dandy have also been working with the University of Kent, digitising their collection and making them available via the PIO database. The archive currently includes:
- Army List 1969-2014
- Air Force List 1970-2013
- Annual Abstract of Statistics 1935-2014
- Civil Service Yearbook 1960-2015
- HMSO Annual Catalogues – 1922-1996
- Navy List 1974-2014
Additionally, Dandy have digitised all House of Lords Papers/Bills, Command Papers, PGAs going back to 1955. Dandy are currently digitising all Lords Papers/Bills from 1901-1955 – please note these papers are unavailable anywhere else.
The University of Kent view PIO as a reliable digital repository so are now discarding material that has been digitised – please see their statement:
At Kent we have been engaged in a review of our official publications collection and have been investigating ways to improve access to these materials whilst at the same time looking to save space for materials that are relatively low use in print form.
Working in partnership with Dandy Booksellers we have donated some of our archive of House of Commons, Lords, Command Papers and Standing Committee Debates in order that they can be scanned and made available to us electronically. These materials will be added to the Public Information Online (PIO) platform which has major implications for discoverability and storage as they will be rendered easily accessible via our resource discovery layer.
Mindful that any digitisation work would need to meet digital preservation criteria we worked with Dandy to ensure that the digital alternatives created were of a high enough standard to allow us to reconsider our print holdings. We are delighted with the quality of the digitisation and feel that this is a great opportunity to sensitively conserve our official publications heritage and would recommend any universities similarly reviewing their print holdings to consider this approach in order that we can create a comprehensive and high quality digital resource for all.
Dandy offer both a print and digital service which is unique to the market. For more details on the digitisation project, PIO or any of the services that Dandy offer please contact Donna Ravenhill on
Responsibility for the information and views set out in this post lies entirely with Dandy Booksellers Ltd, a further blog post will be put up shortly about another source for these types of publications.
UK Parliament Week is an annual programme of events aimed at engaging people from across the country with Parliament, its work and Members. The event began in 2011 and spans a week, this year’s event will be held from the 14-20 November 2016.
The British Library and curators from the Bodleian Libraries are now working on a ‘Brexit’ collection. We have all seen in the last few weeks how quickly the political landscape can change dramatically and with that digital content changes or disappears very quickly. So the curation team is working hard to collect, for example, documents, websites, social media and academic debate for posterity. Separate collections are also being developed looking at the impact of Brexit on Scotland, Ireland and Wales, which are being coordinated by the relevant national libraries.
Access to the Legal Deposit UK Web Archive is via the readings room of the legal deposit libraries, the British Library, Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford, Cambridge University Library, National Library of Wales, National Library of Scotland and the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.
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, email@example.com
* 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
Two articles on official publications have been published in the spring edition of Legal Information Management, Journal of the British and Irish Association of Law Librarians. Please note this is a subscription based journal.
Legal Information Management, ,Volume16, Issue01, March 2016, pp 3-9
Legal Information Management, ,Volume16, Issue01, March 2016, pp 9-13