Creating a new legacy collection for the British Library For Development Studies

With funding provided by the Wellcome Trust this project is designed to improve the accessibility of the British Library of Development Studies (BLDS) historic collection, ensuring it becomes an invaluable and enduring research resource for a new generation of scholars.  The project will be jointly managed by the University of Sussex Library and IDS.

Hosted on the University campus the BLDS historic collection tracks the unfolding story of international development over the last half century and provides an unparalleled resource for better understanding the entanglement of development interventions that have taken shape since the 1960s.

The BLDS historic 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, with selective coverage of other countries that were key sites of development research and innovation during this time (Francophone Africa, Middle East, North Africa and South/Central America).

Its value lies both in the breadth and scope of its contents, and the fact that the collection primarily derives from Low and Middle Income countries where limited funds, civil conflict, environmental disasters and simple neglect has often led to substantial archival destruction.

The entire BLDS historic collection comprises over one million items. These range from government and international agency reports and statistics; pamphlets and writings by civil society actors, research institutions and political parties; documents from participatory and community-based research; serials and related books from LMICs.

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

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

Key contacts

Image of Ben Jackson
Ben Jackson

Project Support Officer


Project details

start date
1 November 2018
end date
1 November 2021


In partnership with
University of Sussex
Supported by
Wellcome Trust

About this project

Research themes


Image of Hayley MacGregor
Hayley MacGregor

Research Fellow

Image of Jeremy Allouche
Jeremy Allouche

Research Fellow

Image of Erica Nelson
Erica Nelson

Research Officer