The Institute of Commonwealth Studies is the only postgraduate academic institution in the UK devoted to the history and politics of the Commonwealth. It also specializes in human rights, North-South relations, global peace and security, development, good governance and the politics of civil society. It runs a very successful MA in Human Rights and supervises PhD students all over the world.
Before touring the library, we were given a comprehensive introduction to the Institute itself by Julie McCaffery, the Deputy Information Resources Manager. We focused particularly on the Institue’s virtual learning environment, the SAS StudyOnline program. This is used by several Institutes in the School of Advanced Study but it is clear that Commonwealth Studies runs and uses this VLE in a profitable way. It is well-organised and packed with information, and must be an invaluable tool for the Institutes' MA students. The library’s website is also particularly worth having a look at- it is frequently updated an obviously an important source of information for those interested in the library and the Institute.
The organization of the volumes in the library leaves much to be desired at the moment: lack of space and resources is a currently major issue. However, along with other ULRLS Institutes, this library will be moving to Senate House this summer, and this will hopefully allow the collection to be housed in a manner more suited to their importance. As well as the books, journals and government publications, the library also houses the Institute’s many important archives. I was very impressed both at the rare and unique collections of the library, and the abilities of the Institute to make the most of its electronic resources.