Committee report

The members of the joint committee are nominated and a report produced and approved by the University College Committee to be submitted to the Senate.

Committee members

Dr Raymond Wilson Chambers is one of the committee members appointed by the University.

Curriculum subject areas

The report on the Proposed School of Librarianship specifies the subject areas to be included in the curriculum and the costs associated with setting up the course.

Demand for librarians

The first two decades of the 20th century see a significant increase in the demand for librarians within the expanding job market.

Financial support

Carnegie UK Trust is approached for financial support. On 1 May 1919 A. L. Hetherington of Carnegie UK Trust Prudential writes to J. Y. W. MacAlister informing him that the trustees have considered the application for a grant not exceeding £7,500 payable in 5 yearly instalments of £1,500 “with the object of initiating on an experimental basis a school of Librarianship at University College”. Hetherington proposes a joint committee of the two bodies (the University and the Library Association) to administer the school.

First Director of the School

On 25 June 1919 the Senate accepts the offer of Carnegie UK Trust to fund the course over five years, putting in motion the creation of the first British School of Librarianship at the University. Ernest A. Baker is offered the post of Director of the School, which he accepts on 1 August 1919.

Official start

The new course in Librarianship officially starts in October 1919 and the full regulations are published in the UCL Calendar for the session 1919-1920.

Course regulations

The course for the Diploma extends over two academic years and is regulated at the same level as the Intermediate Arts Course.

1920s & 1930s

First intake of students

The first intake of students at the School of Librarianship amounts to 88, of which 34 full time and 54 part time. The cohort comprises a number of ex-service men, as well as students already working in libraries.

Students cohort

From the start of the School a high proportion of female students is seen to take up the course. This trend in students’ enrollment is set to remain a constant of the School of Librarianship.

Students bursary

Thanks to a donation from Sir John MacAlister, a bursary is established for the most deserving student nominated by the School of Librarianship Committee.

Student grants

Following World War 1, grants are offered to ex-service men to give them the opportunity to return to their studies after serving in the war. Many female students enrol in the course after having been employed in roles which helped during the conflict.

Annual Dinners

From the 1920s to the 1960s Annual Dinners are organised by the Librarianship and Archives Students’ Association. The Christmas Party and Grand End-of-Session Dinner soon become highlights in the students’ annual calendar.

Fair access to study

During the 1930s students at University College start campaigning for a fair access to study for all.

WW2 safety precautions

Declaration of war in 1939 forces the University to take precautions for the safety of its premises, staff and students. As a result many teaching programmes are removed to Aberystwyth and Bangor in Wales while the School of Librarianship is suspended from 1939 to 1945, with many leaving London to join the World War 2 effort.

Removal of books

Removal of books of outstanding value from the College Main Library to the Library Strong Room begins in March 1939.


The London Blitz

Between 1940 and 1941 the German bombing campaign, also known as the London Blitz, causes serious damage to University College campus, with many of its libraries and buildings damaged or destroyed during the air raids.

Bomb damage

While University staff evades the risks of bombing by leaving Bloomsbury, most of the material contents remains behind, bearing substantial damages as a result of the conflict.

Human losses

John D. Cowley, Director of the School of Librarianship from 1934 to 1944, is amongst the war casualties. He lost his life in enemy action on 20 August 1944. His life is commemorated by the Cowley Prize awarded since 1950 by University College London for the Library and Information Studies programme.

School re-opening

With the war coming to an end, the School of Librarianship re-opens in October 1945. Sir Hilary Jenkinson plays an important role in this new phase of development as secretary of the British Records Association, founded in 1932 to promote the preservation, understanding, accessibility and study of historic records and archives.

Diploma in Archive Studies

Sir Hilary Jenkinson suggests the addition of a Diploma in Archive Studies due to the high demand for archivists in the professional sector.

Positive response

The Provost positively acknowledges the proposal for setting up the first teaching programme in England on Archive Studies.

Appointing the new Director

In August 1945 Raymond Irwin is appointed new Director of the School of Librarianship.

First Archive Administration programme

On 5 May 1947 the Academic Council recommends the institution of a Diploma in Archive Administration to “meet the increasing demand for archivists, for whom a more specialised course is required than that for the Diploma of Librarianship.”On 14th October 1947 the programme begins and the School changes its name in School of Librarianship and Archives.

Archive Students Annual Prize

In 1948 the British Records Association proposes an Annual Prize of £200 for Archive Students to be spent on books. The prize marks the retirement of Mr Hilary Jenkinson and Miss Irene Churchill from the joint secretaryship of the British Records Association and is to be known as the Churchill-Jenkinson Prize.

Librarianship and Archives Students Association

In the academic session 1948 – 1949 a Librarianship and Archives Students Association is established to run alongside the Old Students Association with the aim of organising social events and furthering the interests of students of the School.


Easter Vacation Courses

The continued level of collaborations with European institutions is reflected in Easter Vacation Courses, a provision started in the 1930s and continuing in the 1950s. Over the decades destinations include Italy, Spain and The Netherlands, where students are shown various book production methods and local libraries. Students also arrange regular visits to different libraries in the UK.

Sir Hilary Jenkinson

In 1950 the title of Honorary Fellow of University College is granted to Sir Hilary Jenkinson who decides to offer the college the copyright of his Manual of Archive Administration.

International visits

International visits from distinguished professionals such as Prof S. R. Ranjanathan from Delhi University and R F M Immelman, Librarian at the University of Cape Town, offer students the opportunity to engage with wider perspectives on archival practices and librarianship science. This is matched by international students recruitment, which becomes a distinguishing feature of the School with the enrollment of students from Australasia, Europe, Africa, South America, North America and Asia.

High employment rate

At the same time the expanding job market increases the demand for librarians which results in a high employment rate of students completing the course.

Employment opportunities

The trend, started after WW2, is partly the result of a limit in the number of new enrollments. In Archive Administration this is set up to 12 students per year.
By the late 1950s Latin, Palaeography, and Diplomatic of English Archives are not compulsory any longer and students are encouraged to study the development of libraries and archives from their country of origin.

1960s & 1970s

Students admission policy

In 1962 the number of students taking the course of Librarianship rises to 100, while the intake for the Archive Diploma stands at 10. Today the gap between students undertaking Library and Archive studies is much smaller, reflecting wider sector changes, particularly in the face of recent cuts to public library services.

Hands-on experience

Between the 1960s and 1970s the School’s long tradition of valuing both academic and practical skills for teaching and learning starts to be reflected in students’ dissertations and exemplified in bibliographies and catalogues of collections aimed at providing them with hands-on sector experience.

New academic qualifications

To reflect the changing needs of academic qualifications, in 1966 Masters and Doctorate qualifications are introduced, including the Master of Arts (MA) by examination, the Master of Philosophy (MPhil), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees in either Librarianship or Archives. In 1970 the main diploma is retitled as Diploma in Library and Information Studies, and in 1972 the school changes its name in School of Library, Archive and Information Studies in recognition of the increasing role that information studies plays in the professional world.

Setting up the Master in Information Science

The College Council is the body in charge of ratifying the decision to introduce the Master in Information Science at the School in 1972.

The prospectus

Launched in 1972, the Master prepares students for management roles in the information industries.

1990s & 2000s

Students’ career support

The international make-up of the student body is reflected in the topics covered in dissertations. Bibliography and catalogue assessments are replaced with industry placements. A stronger emphasis is given to group work and practical imaginings of work scenarios, including the creation of relational databases and online exhibitions to prepare students to work in the information sector. A number of research centres are established as well as organisation of career events for students.

Research centres

The International Centre for Archives and Records Management Research (ICARUS) is founded in 2005 to promote an international, inclusive and sustainable network of critical thinking on archives and records management practice. KIDS (Knowledge Information and Data Science Group) is set up to develop methodologies, algorithms and paradigms that build bridges between logic-based AI and statistical machine learning approaches.

Centre for Publishing

The UCL Centre for Publishing is established in 2006 following the Head of School, Prof Dave Nicholas, view that publishing should sit in an information management setting alongside the other programmes. This soon leads to the creation of a Publishing MA led by Professor Iain Stevenson. The centre is behind the UCL Publishers’ Prize, an annual creative writing competition organised by a team of MA Publishing students.

Sir Hilary Jenkinson annual lectures

In 2007, the department celebrates the diamond jubilee of archival education at UCL by establishing a new annual lecture named in honour of Sir Hilary Jenkinson, Deputy Keeper of the Public Record Office.

The School changes name

In 2009 the department changes its name from School of Library, Archive and Information Studies to Department of Information Studies.