UCL Library, Culture, Collections & Open Science


Promoting Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and empowering our staff

We value the importance of inclusivity and diversity both within our department and in how we engage with our communities. We aspire to be fully inclusive of all voices and perspectives.

Case studies

The Blueprints of Hope exhibition in the Octagon Gallery

Library Liberating the Collections Steering Group

The Library Liberating the Collections Steering Group (LLTC) was formed in 2020 as an umbrella group overseeing strands of related activity taking place across library sections and teams.

They work towards a greater understanding of our collections and aspire to be fully inclusive of all voices and perspectives.

The group’s action plan sets out objectives and key activities, serving as a framework to measure our collective progress in Library Services. Highlights include:

Collection Policy

  • An LLTC Statement of Intent agreed, outlining the purpose and priorities of the group.
  • Acquisitions procedures reviewed, including guidance on procuring materials in support of the liberating collections objectives.
  • A ‘Liberating the Curriculum’ page added to the ReadingLists@UCL guide to aid academic departments looking to review and diversify their lists.
  • Book funds ring-fenced to support procurement of materials recommended by the UCL community during annual awareness campaigns including Black History MonthLGBTQ+ History Month and Women’s History Month

Collection Description and Visibility

  • Uncatalogued collections reviewed and a new system implemented to ensure materials which enrich our collections, in terms of diversity and inclusion, are routinely prioritised to improve their discoverability and profile. 
  • Successfully applied for external funding to catalogue the Moses Gaster archive.
  • Metadata in the archive catalogue reviewed, to identify outdated terminology and act to address this by providing content warnings.
  • Undertook discrete reclassification projects that improved arrangement of works from outside the British Isles, and corrected the filing of names of Chinese origin, in the English and literature collections. Further priority areas for reclassification identified.
  • Developed new guidance on how to cite items from our archives, records and rare printed collections allowing outputs from researchers using our Special Collections to be more visible.

Communication and Engagement

A member of Special Collections staff leads a tour of the Hidden in Plain Sight exhibition.

Blueprints of Hope: Celebrating LGBTQ+ London exhibition in Octagon Gallery 

Octagon Gallery exhibition ‘Blueprints of Hope: Celebrating LGBTQ+ London’ (1 March-18 August 2023) presented a snapshot of London’s vital queer cityscape, past and present.

The exhibition was curated by London-based collective Gedney Common, in collaboration with Museums & Cultural Programmes, in response to research by UCL Urban Lab which showed there had been a drop of 58% in London’s LGBTQ+ venues between 2006 and 2017.

Bringing the work of libraries, archives, community centres and activist groups, alongside pieces by contemporary artists including Louis Blue Newby, Jakob Rowlinson and Nina Wakeford, Gedney Common illuminated the role of London’s queer cityscape in providing a social and cultural lifeline for LGBTQ+ communities.

In his book Queer Premises: LGBTQ+ Venues Since the 1980s, Urban Lab’s Co-Director Ben Campkin argues that the term ‘queer infrastructure’ captures the diversity, dynamism, adaptation and extension of scenes across different periods, generations and geographical locations – a term to which this exhibition responded.

The exhibition was supported by a public programme featuring a live performance by exhibiting artist Nina Wakeford, who performed ‘Above this new tunnel the Market Tavern once stood. Grey concrete outside. Cherry red, dark, sexy, cruisy, inside.’ Featuring words and music, Nina Wakeford staged parts of her book ‘Our Pink Depot: The Gay Underground FLO-N202-236000000-TRK-MST-00002-SAY-HELLO-WAVE-GOODBYE-KEN-NIE-BPS’ (Book Works 2019) in the North Cloisters. The performance imagined a new Underground tube tunnel built below a demolished gay club as a new part of London queer infrastructure – a ‘pink depot’ – and was based on a project originally commissioned by Art on the Underground.

The programme also offered special editions of Badge Café Hangout with Ben Walters, providing a craft-based utopian space to put old books and mags to queer badgemaking use, and Queer Tours of London: A Mince Through Time, in which tour guide Dan de la Motte shone a light on London’s rich LGBTQ+ history through an interactive tour of Bloomsbury.

“I was struck by how joyful [the exhibition] was whilst tackling a serious subject”
“I think this exhibition is especially good for students/people new to London who are queer because it helps you not feel so alone/lost, and see the community that has existed before you.”

The above are quotes from two UCL focus groups on the exhibition, one made up of predominantly LGBTQ+ staff/students.

'A case showing photography and ephemera in the Blueprints of Hope exhibition'.