Emancipating Our Collections

Glasgow School of Art Library is committed to supporting both institutional and student-led initiatives to diversify the curriculum. This page describes the ways in which we are developing our collections and services to achieve this.

Our Collecting Principles

We strive to be clear, transparent and fair in how we develop and curate our collections, and equality is one of the key principles that inform our decision-making. Our Library Collections Strategy is built around 8 key precepts, including co-curation, equity, and sustainability . We commit ourselves to:

  • Develop collections that reflect the pluralities of culture, society and experience that constitute today’s world.
  • Hold collections that stimulate debate and challenge accepted norms.
  • Recognise that the GSA community is international in scope, and that our collections should reflect this.
  • Strive to ensure that readers are not disadvantaged in their use of our collections.

Assessing the Impact of What We Do

We undertake Equality Impact Assessments to ensure that our policies or services do not discriminate against disadvantaged, minority or vulnerable people or groups. You can read assessments for both the Library’s print and e-resources here.

Providing Space to Contest Our Collections

Kara Walker (1997) Freedom, a fable: a curious interpretation of the wit of a negress in troubled times (GSA Library, Special Collections)

We are committed to being transparent about volumes in our special and historical collections, and have identified a small number of older volumes that contain writings or images that are problematic for a modern, diverse audience, or that contest such tropes. You can access this list, with descriptions of their content, here.

We are working with colleagues from the Race, Rights & Sovereignty programme to provide safe, respectful and consensual forums in which you can interrogate, contest and debate these volumes. These forums will be advertised across GSA.

We are also working to develop and grow our World Cultures Collection in order to provide an important counterpoint to an art historical canon based upon European or Western-centric views of art and its production.

Henry Hardy Cole (1872) The architecture of ancient Delhi: especially the buildings around the Kutb Minar (GSA Library, Special Collections)

Signposting Alternative Reading Lists

We are keen to draw on the expertise of other individuals and groups who are seeking to expand library collections and promote curriculum diversification. Below are links to both internally and externally-compiled lists of resources that have been suggested to us. We are keen to hear of other such lists and to receive feedback on their contents at library@gsa.ac.uk

Signposting Resources for Equality

Our handy subject guides help you discover books, magazines, databases and more that are relevant to particular themes. We have produced guides for several diversity and equality issues:

Encouraging You to Shape Our Collections

We actively welcome purchase suggestions for books or DVDs from all members of the GSA community, and are proud to satisfy around 90% of all the suggestions we receive. If you would like to suggest a purchase, let us know here. Our form enables you to tell us when you think a title may help to diversity our collections.

Encouraging You to Work With Our Collections

Read The Hatchery to discover how students, artists, writers and creatives have used our collections to inspire, challenge or expand their practice. In recent years we have supported GSA student societies the People of Colour Group and Responsive Art & Design Group to showcase collections on race and diversity, and on sustainability and economic empowerment.

Providing Support in Difficult Times

Sometimes academic study, life events, working with others and socialising can leave us feeling a little stressed, tired, upset or even fearful. There are lots of resources available in GSA Library to provide support, and to help you get back on track. Read our useful guide.