Last year the IHR celebrated its 90th anniversary. For much of that time, the IHR has occupied the North wing of Senate House without much in the way of renovation. Those of you who have visited us over the last decade or so will have noticed how marvellous the South block of Senate House looks after its refurbishment. Those of you who live too far away to visit us in person will be able to find glimpses of the South block in blockbuster films such as the upcoming Batman movie.
Many of the costs associated with the refurbishment of the IHR have already been met or agreed upon within the University of London budgets but there is so much more that we would like to achieve. To that end we have created a short video where our director, Professor Miles Taylor, explains a little of what we do and what we would like to achieve. If you would like to help out please take a look at our ‘support us’ pages on the main IHR website.
Hello, my name is Miles Taylor and I am the Director of the Institute of Historical Research here in the heart of the University of London, in Bloomsbury. The Institute – or ‘IHR’ as everyone knows it – is a remarkable place. It was founded in 1921, arriving before the rest of the University and quickly becoming a key part of history in the UK. Nowadays, our library of printed primary sources has grown to almost 200,000 volumes. We host over 60 research seminars per fortnight. We provide a huge range of listings, guides, teaching and training materials and services for historians across the UK. Our junior fellowship programme is the largest in the country, and we are home to a number of research centres. The highlight of our year, the Anglo-American conference, draws together hundreds of scholars from around the world to debate and discuss the main historical topics of our time. In recent years we have become a digital operation as well. The principal collections of our Library have been digitised as British History Online, all our listings services are now on the web, and we run an innovative virtual programme of podcast and live-streamed events.
The Institute is now embarking on an exciting £3m modernisation of our Senate House headquarters. In the autumn of 2013 we shall move back into a refurbished building, equipped with new conference and research training suites, enhanced library and research facilities, and an expansion of room for our fellows and postgraduate students. It’s an exciting project. It preserves the original ethos and layout of the Institute, whilst expanding our capacity to deliver more events, training and teaching. Our new layout will be welcome news for the traditional library-user. A unique single-site history library will be created, with the University history borrowing collection housed at the top of the building.
The University expects the Institute to match their commitment to our future with some fundraising of our own. We are required to pay for the bespoke fitting out of the building. We need £0.5m for our new training and conference facilities, and for library fittings and furniture. But I want the IHR to go further than this. In addition to helping refurbish the building, I have set ourselves a target of c. £4m to reinvigorate and add to our range of academic activities: expanding our international fellowship and events programmes, establishing a new Chair in the History of London, and making a digital library of our unique holdings in colonial American history.
I realise this is an ambitious shopping list. However, it is spending to grow and it is spending to achieve financial sustainability. And there is no better time for us to raise money, for we have been set a challenge grant target by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. If we can reach $1m then the Foundation will match that with $1m of their own.
Please help us transform the Institute for the 21st century and put us on the road to financial self-reliance. Our Development Office staff can advise you on how to help if you want to take the next step.
With thanks to BDP for images and plans