University of London

Showcase library collections with data insights

Students study in a large library, the Middlesex Library North at the University of London.
Middlesex Library North, University of London

University of London Senate House Library logo

"Because of the information provided by GreenGlass, we were able to gain insights to showcase the strengths of our print collections.”

Pete Williams
Deputy Director, Services, Senate House Library, University of London

Senate House Library, one of the UK’s largest academic libraries for arts, humanities, and social sciences, and renowned for its collection of primary source materials, was at the beginning of a major transformation program aiming to re-establish themselves as one of the world’s leading research libraries. To achieve this, it was essential that staff gained more insight into the strengths of their print collections.

“By using GreenGlass, we were able to gain more evidence to show how rich our collections really are,” said Pete Williams, Deputy Director, Services, Senate House Library. “We have nearly two million volumes in total. We know our collections include older special collections, such as copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio, and we’ve got many wonderful special collections like the Harry Price Library of Magical Literature and the Sterling Library of first editions of English literature. But we also needed to understand how our broader collections compare with other research libraries in the UK.
“Understanding our collections is a crucial part of the transformation program,” Williams said. “We want to make our collections more accessible, both digitally and in person. Ultimately, we plan to open a Special Collections Centre, which will be a shared project with other University of London libraries, bringing some of our most exciting special collections together in a single location.”

"Understanding our collections is a crucial part of the transformation program... We want to make our collections more accessible, both digitally and in person."

Make strategic decisions with GreenGlass

Senate House Library selected GreenGlass to help staff benchmark their collections against other University of London libraries  and the wider Research Libraries UK (RLUK) group, facilitating strategic decision-making. “We wanted to identify opportunities for internal deduplication and explore our relationship with the other universities, like the other University of London libraries and the central School of Advanced Study libraries. These are all completely independent libraries, but there is scope for working more closely in terms of collection management,” noted Williams.

Optimize collection management

GreenGlass insights highlighted the uniqueness of Senate House Library’s print collections, with 36% of its holdings not held in any other RLUK library. The reports also revealed there were more than 42,000 duplicates within the library. This has led to a process of internal de-duplication, creating space for new acquisitions and additional study areas for students.

The information provided by GreenGlass not only optimised collection management, but also helped to demonstrate SHL’s value to the academic and federal library boards. “We were able to demonstrate that we’ve got some amazing collections, and GreenGlass provided us with the concrete evidence we needed,” said Williams.

Thanks to GreenGlass reports and analysis, Senate House Library has positioned itself for future development and continues to serve its academic community in innovative ways.

Services used by Senate House Library



  • London, United Kingdom

Library at a glance

  • The library recently celebrated its 150th anniversary, having first received major collections in 1871. The current library building opened in 1937, and is located in an iconic building in Bloomsbury, which was designed by Charles Holden
  • Used by students and staff from the 17 federal University of London institutions, as well as researchers from around the world
  • Provides a popular shooting location for the film and television industries with the building featuring in several movies, like Fast and Furious 6, Blue Ice, No Time to Die, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight Rises, and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Related stories

Students in a UCL library space

Deliver more study space and benchmark library stock

Find out how University College London manages extensive library collections safely across 18 sites and an off-site storage facility.

Explaining the Saint John's Bible at Saint Anselm College

Demonstrate the value of your special collections

Learn how Saint Anselm College analyzed its special collections to identify rare items and strategically focus collection development.