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Lambeth Palace Library recognised as one of the UK’s top research and specialist libraries

One of the oldest public libraries in the country is set to go into cyberspace. The printed book collection of Lambeth Palace Library - the historic library and record office of the Archbishops of Canterbury, and the main repository of the documentary history of the Church of England - will be added to an online catalogue for the benefit of the national and international research community, it has been announced today.

The Library’s printed book catalogue will be loaded onto Copac, which provides free access to the merged online catalogues of the major research libraries in the UK and Ireland. Lambeth Palace Library’s holdings make it one of the key collections for Church history for researchers exploring the early Church to the present day, and the Library forms a major part of the national collection in the field of theology.

Declan Kelly, Director of Libraries, Archives and Information Services for the National Institutions of the Church of England, says that the Library’s users will benefit greatly from this development: “Researchers who discover Lambeth Palace Library are constantly amazed by the richness and value of the collections for their research. While many users already access the catalogue via our own website, exposure of the Library’s collections in this way will raise the Library’s profile enormously, not just to the research community, but also to the wider public.”

Copac is co-ordinated by the Consortium of Research Libraries (CURL), a body that aims to increase the ability of research libraries to share resources for the benefit of the local, national and international research community. By building a ‘one-stop’ resource, researchers - wherever in the world and whatever their disciplines - are able to locate resources easily from their own desk.

The addition of Lambeth Palace Library’s catalogue over the next year was announced following an assessment of the Library’s application to the CURL/British Library/Research Information Network Challenge Fund, an initiative designed to enhance the Copac scheme by significantly extending the range of research material it covers. From a pool of 60 responses seeking a presence within Copac, 12 successful applicants – including the Kew Royal Botanic Gardens and the Natural History Museum - have been selected as new additions to the catalogue.

Robin Green, Executive Director of CURL, said “I am delighted that through the Challenge Fund, CURL has been able to provide the wider community with this opportunity. Inclusion of the Lambeth Palace Library data in Copac makes it a much richer resource and increases access to relevant materials to all researchers, wherever they are based.”

The Library’s catalogue is expected to be fully loaded into the Copac system by early 2008.