Skip to main content

Annual report 2019-20


Illustration ofshaking hands extending from a laptop.

On this page:

Reuse, research and innovation with collections data

Research Libraries UK and the National Archives awarded a Professional Digital Fellowship to a member of our Special Collections team for the second year in a row.

This Fellowship focuses on how to exploit the archive catalogue as a dataset (data about the collection). This could help to improve how we manage and develop our collections and make them more discoverable and accessible.

The project also explores ways to provide digital access to these collections and aims to create digital scholarship opportunities for those who do not have coding or computational skills.

The findings to date suggest a growing need for common approaches to the publication of data, use of controlled vocabularies and authority identifiers, and interoperability of (meta)data standards.

We hope that the outputs will provide one way to navigate the digital shift to meet the needs of increasingly digital and remote audiences.

Major philanthropic gift makes furniture history

Our close collaboration with Dr Mark Westgarth to develop collections relating to the history of the antiques market opened the door to a generous bequest from the John Bedford Will Trust.

John Bedford was a noted antique dealer and collector, who created a significant rare book and manuscript collection on the history of furniture design over a period of 40 years.

We met, developed a relationship, and discovered that what we could offer aligned with John Bedford’s own ambitions, for the benefit of students, researchers and the public. The John Bedford Library of Furniture History became a part of our Special Collections in 2019, along with significant additional funding.

This includes the vital funds needed to catalogue the collection. It also funds student and early-career research opportunities to engage with the collection. The investment has gone even further with a donation to extend the Special Collections Research Centre. This will create the space needed to engage with the collection through teaching and research events.

Our productive partnership with Alumni and Major Gifts also increased the mutual understanding of our services, which will shape future work so that comprehensive packages can be communicated to prospective donors.

A drawing of the new Special Collections extension

Architect's impression of the new West Building mezzanine floor, housing the John Bedford Room.

Collection management collaboration on a national scale

We are helping to develop a national system to make sure that UK research collections retain and preserve valuable research materials. This will be part of a national research collection managed through the Jisc Library Hub.

Our previous work analysed our print collections to identify which collections should be permanently kept. This year we carried out a multi-layered analysis, comparing Leeds collections with the holdings of peer institutions, to identify the individual item catalogue records within those collections.

This will inform a wide range of library collection management activities. This includes targeted subject development (including e-resources provision), digitisation and conservation work, stock editing, relocation and relegation tasks.