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Hidden Collections in African Studies: Call for papers

March 22, 2013

SCOLMA (the UK Libraries and Archives Group on Africa) Annual Conference: “Hidden Collections in African Studies”

Tuesday 9th July 2013, Senate House Library, University of London

Call for papers

Last year’s RLUK Hidden Collections report,, shared the findings of a survey into “hidden collections” carried out by Research Libraries UK and the London Library in 2010, which aimed to gather evidence about the ongoing need for retrospective cataloguing of UK collections.

The report found that “hidden collections” (defined as material for which there is no online catalogue record) remain an immense problem for UK libraries. Over 13 million volumes were uncatalogued in the libraries that responded, 18.5% of the total number of volumes held by those libraries. Over 4 million more (in a smaller number of libraries) had unsatisfactory catalogue records. The report noted that foreign language material and formats which require particular skills and expertise (such as maps, music, and archives) were heavily represented in “hidden collections”, and found that while there were significant retrospective cataloguing projects underway the scale of the problem is often beyond individual institutions.

In addition, as more material becomes available online and researchers expectations of digital content expands, those resources not easily available in digital format in turn become “hidden”.
This conference will discuss the extent and scope of “hidden collections” in different formats in African Studies in the UK, look at examples of projects addressing this problem and work towards ways forward at a national level. The conference will also seek to engage with researchers who can talk about hidden and recently un-hidden collections.

Researchers, archivists and librarians are invited to submit abstracts for consideration for this conference. We are particularly interested in researcher perspectives on the impact of newly catalogued collections; and librarian and archivist presentations on innovative and efficient ways of making collections available.

Abstracts of up to 500 words may be sent to: by 22nd April 2013.