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Collaborative activities

The Social Sciences department works with a range of partners to: make our collections easier to find; explore new ways in which they can be used; contribute to the development of the next generation of researchers; support the exchange of ideas between researchers, practitioners and policymakers; and promote public understanding and awareness of the value of social science research.

Recent activities include:

Third Sector Knowledge Portal

The Portal is a new destination for research and information on the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors in the UK and internationally. It was developed by the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) in collaboration with the British Library and offers free access to a collection of research resources in areas such as commissioning, social and economic impact, equality and diversity, volunteering and giving, social enterprise, etc. The Portal will seek to build a dynamic and topical collection of relevance to anyone working in, for, or with the third sector in the UK and beyond. Read more about the project.

The Third Sector Research Centre is a collaborative venture by the Universities of Birmingham and Southampton, funded by the ESRC, Office of the Third Sector and the Barrow Cadbury Trust.  Access the Third Sector Knowledge Portal at:

Sisterhood and After: The Women’s Liberation Oral History Project

‘Sisterhood and After’ is a collaborative research project between The British Library, the University of Sussex and The Women’s Library. From Spare Rib to Greenham, Southall Black Sisters to the Northern Ireland Women's Right's movement, the generation of women who powered the Movement are mostly now in their 60s and 70s.  This three year project used oral history interviews to capture and analyse the memories of these women.  In conjunction with a range of other primary and secondary material, we have explored the legacy of the crucial efforts of these women in bringing about social and political change.  The project is the first to publicly archive a comprehensive collection of interviews with this generation of feminists. As part of the project an interactive learning website has been launched.

The project was led by Dr Margaretta Jolly with Dr Rachel Cohen at the University of Sussex and Dr Polly Russell at the British Library.  Further information about the project can be found on the University of Sussex website.

Oral History of Recent British Food Activism

This collaborative PhD studentship, funded by The British Library and the University of Sheffield, seeks to document the recent history of food activism and the impact of these social movements on the food industry and food policy. This research will involve collecting and analysing 20 oral histories with food activists, tracing the shifting contours of food consciousness since the 1980s and will investigate the extent to which these activist movements shape social norms and facilitate behavioural and cultural change.  The research will contribute to current debates about the ‘globalisation’ of food production and the development of alternative food networks.  The food activist oral histories will draw on and add to The British Library’s unique collection of over 200 oral history food recordings: Food: From Source to Salespoint.

The project is supervised by Professor Peter Jackson (University of Sheffield) and Dr Polly Russell (British Library). For more information please contact Polly Russell:

The Listening Project

The listening project is a partnership between BBC Radio and the British Library that invites people to share an intimate conversation, to be recorded and broadcast by the BBC and, if suitable, curated and archived by the British Library.  These conversations will form a a unique picture of our lives today, preserved for future generations. Find out more.

Voices of the UK

This project was funded by the Leverhulme Trust and took place between 2009 and 2012.  It made use of BBC Voices recordings from 283 locations across the UK to produce detailed descriptions of spoken English at the start of the 21st century.  The audio files and descriptions are available via the British Library Sounds website.

Playtimes: A Century of Children's Games and Rhymes

'Playtimes' is part of an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project entitled 'Children's Games and Songs in the New Media Age.  Documenting children's culture from 1900 to the present day, the website includes footage of 'traditional' children's games and songs from the twentieth century to children re-enacting scenes from TV shows, computer games and pop videos.  Explore the site to discover the continuities and changes that have marked children's play over time and to recognise the ways in which cultural, political environment context influences the imagination.

Sport and Society: the Summer Olympics and Paralympics through the lens of social science

This website was developed during the build-up to London 2012.  It used the theme of the Olympic and Paralympic Games as a platform to explore the wealth of the sports related collections held at the Library and to demonstrate the diversity of research across the social sciences.  In producing this website, we have built close links with publishers to collect the textual (printed and electronic) legacy of the Games.  We also invited authors to contribute short papers based on their research into sports and sport events.  Please visit the website to find out more.

Further information

If you would like to find out more about these projects, or if you have a suggestion for a new project, we would be pleased to hear from you. Please be aware that we cannot support every suggestion. Write to:

Jude England
Head of Social Sciences
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB