Recently designated one of five National Research Libraries by HEFCE (and, for the moment at least, in receipt of funding as such), SOAS Library has long been acknowledged as the exemplar of a specialist academic library supporting area studies for Asian, African and Middle Eastern studies.  It has always “punched above its weight” – a library far more extensive than that expected of a specialist college within a large university.

The run-up to the School’s centenary in 2016 seems an appropriate time to recap and review the nature, scope and development of the scholarly collections as a whole – as distinct from all the other services, processes, activities and organization that make up the Library.  This paper, by addressing each specialist collection individually and in turn, shows that the Library is in fact even greater than the sum of its parts.

Barbara Spina
Head, Teaching and Research Support
SOAS Library
26th April 2010