Nov 172014

This is the eighth in the series of guest posts written by one of SUNCAT’s Contributing Libraries. This month, Jennifer Milligan, Senior Library Assistant at the Library of the Religious Society of Friends, writes about the library, its serials collection, and being a SUNCAT Contributing Library.


The Library of the Religious Society of Friends has one of the largest collections of materials in the world relating to Quakers and their activities. As well as the central archives of Britain Yearly Meeting, it also holds printed material, manuscripts , pictures and museum objects.

Image of the Library of the Society of Friends Reading Room

The Library of the Society of Friends Reading Room

The Library was founded in 1673 when the Second Day Morning Meeting agreed to acquire two copies of everything written by Quakers and one copy of everything written against them.

The Library now holds about 1000 periodical titles and currently receives about 250 current titles. Many of these are only available in the UK at this Library or the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham. The Library’s collection of periodicals covers Quakerism and matters with which Friends have been concerned. This includes Friends organisations (such as the Friends Ambulance Unit), special interest groups (such as Quaker Action on Alcohol and Drugs and its predecessors) and informal groups. Its holdings go back to 1780 with the first Ackworth School annual reports.

An image of a page of the First Annual Report of the Friends Ambulance Unit (1914-1919).

The First Annual Report of the Friends Ambulance Unit (1914-1919).

The Library also holds historically rare and important titles such as William Allen’s ‘The Philanthropist’ and ‘The Monthly Record’ and journals of various Friends missions in places such as Pemba, Tanzania and Madagascar.
It also collects serials produced by organisations with which Friends have traditionally had strong links, such as the Central Board of Conscientious Objectors and the Anti-Slavery Society, and titles connected to Friends testimonies, such as Peace News.

Image of a page from the UK's first anti-racist publication 'Anti Caste'.

Anti Caste (ed. Catherine Impey) , the UK’s first anti-racist publication. The Library holds the only complete set known to have survived in this country.

The Library contacted SUNCAT about the possibility of us submitting our serials holdings and in October 2011 I was delighted to be approached to do this.  The Library uses ADLIB which means our records are not set out in UKMARC format. However, I was reassured by staff at SUNCAT that this would not be an issue as they had uploaded records from other collections using ADLIB. We also do not use Library of Congress subject headings and set out our authority file information such as corporate authors differently. I was again reassured that this would not be an issue. I sent some examples of our serials records for consideration. I was advised as to what fields would be required and how the data should be set out.

I uploaded the records using FTP and it was an incredibly quick and simple process. I checked with the staff that they had received the records. By February 2012, our holdings had been uploaded to the main SUNCAT catalogue. I was extremely pleased with SUNCAT’s staff swift work and the quality of the records. I have sent two updates to SUNCAT since the initial upload.

The Library has also found SUNCAT a useful tool for helping to locate titles in other collections. We are able to advise readers who are not able to visit the Library in person where the location is of the nearest collection that holds an item they are interested in consulting in. I personally find the new SUNCAT interface very user friendly. There is evidence that some of our users have been alerted to the existence of a title in our collections because of SUNCAT.


SUNCAT would like to thank Jennifer for writing this post. If you would like to write a post on your SUNCAT Contributing Library and its serials collections please let us know.

 November 17, 2014  Posted by at 3:23 pm Contributing Libraries Tagged with: ,  No Responses »