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Physical & Digital Collections

Decolonisation LibGuide: For readers

This tab contains: advice about how to find library resources about decolonisation; a warning about offensive material in the catalogues; and an invitation to have input into library decolonisation.

Finding decolonisation material

If you are looking for books about decolonisation in the iDiscover catalogue, you can search for the term ‘Decolonization’ as the main Library of Congress subject heading for the topic.  Be aware, though, that not every decolonisation-related title will have that subject heading.  That might be because other subject headings are more fitting, such as ‘Anti-imperialist movements’.

You can also do a keyword search in iDiscover for decolonisation as ‘decoloni?ation’ to get results for both the UK (s) and US (z) spellings – ditto ‘decoloni?ing’, etc.

The Cambridge University Libraries Decolonisation Working Group put together a very introductory decolonisation list in 2023.  There is also a version for those without Cambridge Raven access.

Warning about offensive material

Given the range of our collecting, with historical and Legal Deposit material amidst our research and teaching collections, Cambridge’s catalogues contain records for material that people might consider be offensive or harmful.  That might be because of the language found in the material (and/or the archive/library records for it), or because of the views expressed by the author(s), or for other reasons.

The presence of a particular book or other item in Cambridge collections does not equate with approval of them by library or academic staff.  It is important to emphasise that fact here.  The presence of such material and how staff and readers interact with it continue to be the subject of discussions led in part by the CUL Decolonisation Working Group.

Your involvement in library decolonisation

Decolonisation is now something that many library staff across the University think about in their work.  Across Cambridge’s libraries, staff increasingly try to buy new material which relates to decolonisation and the subjects we specialise in.  It’s the responsibility of librarians to do this, but of course we are also always very happy to receive thoughts from our readers – whether about new books to buy or comments about decolonisation in Cambridge libraries in general.  Do talk to your Faculty or College librarian and/or write to the CUL Decolonisation Working Group.

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