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Wellcome Trust grant to create new legacy for the British Library of Development Studies

Published on 13 March 2019

The University of Sussex has been awarded a Wellcome Trust grant of over £400,000 to improve the accessibility of the British Library of Development Studies (BLDS), ensuring it becomes an invaluable and enduring research resource for a new generation of scholars.  The grant will be jointly managed with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS).

The unique BLDS collection tracks the unfolding story of international development and health systems in developing countries over the last half century. It represents another facet of the cross campus development studies expertise, experience and excellence, which has led to the University of Sussex, including IDS, being ranked first in the world for development studies for three consecutive years by the QS World University Rankings.

Comprised of around 1,300,000 items, the BLDS Legacy Collection contains government and international agency reports; pamphlets and writings by civil society actors, research institutions and political parties and related books.

The collection is uniquely comprehensive in its coverage of government and official sources, particularly those published in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia between the mid-1960s and mid-1990s.

However, much of the highly valuable material held in the collection is currently uncatalogued, making it difficult to access.

The new Wellcome Trust grant will allow Dr Fiona Courage, Associate Director of the Library and Curator of the Mass Observation Archive, to oversee a project to make this valuable resource publicly accessible.

Dr Fiona Courage said: “This grant is absolutely brilliant news for the British Library of Development Studies. It will allow us to open up this collection so that users can easily access the materials they need and really make the most of such an important resource.”

Dr Courage will be supported by the University of Sussex Library’s Collection Development and Special Collections team, while Professor Melissa Leach, Director of IDS, will provide academic direction, supported by senior IDS academics Dr Hayley McGregor, Dr Jeremy Allouche and Dr Erica Nelson.

In addition to creating an online catalogue and promoting individual items, the area where the physical collection is stored will be refurbished with new mobile shelving units.

Professor Melissa Leach said: “We’re absolutely delighted that we’ve secured this generous grant from the Wellcome Trust which will mean that international scholars and policy makers will be able to make use of this invaluable collection in their work to tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges – from global pandemic threats to poverty and inequality – drawing on critical lessons from history.”

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