We are justly proud of our Official Publications Collection here at the Library; our print holdings reflect the development of state education policy since the nineteenth century and of course we continue to preserve and protect born digital government publications through our Digital Education Resource Archive (DERA). As the Official Publications Librarian, one of the elements of the role that has always appealed to me is that the collection also contains material that is not quite “official”. We collect selected publications from the major political parties (as well as some interesting material from some of the smaller ones) and we also add material produced by pressure groups and others with an interest in educational policy.
We continue to add to our printed collection and often this is through kind offers of donations from individuals who have worked in the sector. We were recently approached by Baroness Sharp of Guildford offering materials related to her work in the House of Lords to the Library and Archives. My colleague Kathryn Meldrum from the Archives and I were honoured to be able to visit Baroness Sharp on the same day that she gave her valedictory speech in the House of Lords on the theme of poverty and education. The first hour or so of our visit was spent identifying materials that we could add to our collection. This included papers and publications produced by the Liberal Democrats as well as a wide variety of publications authored by Charities and Think Tanks. All of these materials will help to further enrich our Official Publications Collection, offering researchers the opportunity to gain deeper insights into the development of educational policy in the UK.
However, I must admit that the real highlight of the day for me was the opportunity to take tea with Baroness Sharp in one of the Tea Rooms of the House of Lords. This was followed by a wonderful tour of the building and an opportunity to sit in on one of the debates (I was glad that I had worn a suit – although I had to borrow a tie to gain admittance to the chamber!). We returned to the IOE with some wonderful donations and memories of quite a remarkable day.