CityLIS Virtual Dissertation Collections. 2. History

Uodated to include dissertations submitted up to January 2019.

This is the second in an occasional series of posts in which we celebrate and publicise the excellent work done by CityLIS students in their dissertation projects. Each post will focus on a topic, and present a series of dissertations in that area; this one deals with historical studies within LIS, following the interest shown in the first of the series, which covered dissertations dealing with art and artists.

CityLIS dissertations are small-scale research projects, taking four months full-time or eight months part-time. Good dissertations can produce results that may be immediately valuable for practice, as well as expanding the knowledge base of the library/information discipline.

The dissertations listed below provide good examples of the range of historical dissertations undertaken at CityLIS over the past 10 years. Some follow rather traditional paths, examining the history of a library service, or a form of service provision, or a publication; others look at themes and trends over time. One form, which we feel is particularly apposite, looks specifically at what historical analysis can contribute to solving present-day problems.

Those dissertations shown with hyperlinks on the list may be accessed in the Humanities Commons repository; anyone interested in the others may obtain a copy from Lyn Robinson ( or David Bawden ( If any former students whose dissertation is on the list happens to read this post, please consider putting a copy in the CityLIS area in Humanities Commons.


Dissertations: History

The forgotten corners of the Internet – a social media analysis
Matthew Rudd (2018)
A study of Internet protocols from pre-Web days, maintained by nuche use communities.

The Prince and the Librarian: the context and significance of the reforms to the Royal Library at Windsor Castle under Prince Albert
David Baker (2018)
A historical analysis of Albert’s involvement with the Windsor library, and its influence on current and subsequent library practice.

‘The public libraries of London’ collection: oral history in the digital age
Marianna Ou  (2017)
Presents the process and outcomes of building ‘The public libraries of London’ collection of interviews with current and former staff members of London public libraries, to be housed in the Layers of London website.

A battle for identity: public libraries in England and Wales 1850-1943
Scott Richmond  (2016)
A comparison of the information role of the public library service, vis a vis its broader social roles, throughout the first hundred years of the service’s development in England and Wales

Anticipating the internet: how the predictions of Paul Otlet, H.G.Wells and Vannevar Bush shaped the digital information age
Dominic Allington-Smith  (2015)
A literature analysis of the nature of predictions of the information future, and the way they have influenced developments, particularly of the Internet.

Reading through wartime: Bethnal Green tube shelter library
Alexandra Santos  (2013)
A study of the wartime operation of a wartime public library setting, and reading habits of the time, based on analysis of materials in local authority archives

The Asiatic Society of Bengal Library: its evolution and contribution to the formation of knowledge about Asia 1784-1940
Sudakshina Roy  (2013)
A detailed historical study of one library service, and its influence on knowledge development in its domain

“Juveniles, women and the working classes”: a review of access to information in public libraries in nineteenth century England
Monica Deacy  (2013)
A study of the nature of public library provision to marginalised groups, based largely on analysis of primary sources, in particular mid- to late-nineteenth century periodicals

Information networks and communication channels of the eighteenth century anti-slavery and abolition campaign in London and the Royal Borough of Greenwich
Helen Dummett  (2011)
A study of developing information society, through an analysis of anti-slavery campaigns, based on analysis of diverse sources, particularly primary sources in local history collections.

An investigation into the relevance of the history and original aims of the UK public library service to current discussions about the future of the service
Rebecca Lacey  (2011)
A comparison of the issues facing the earliest public library services in the mid-nineteenth century, and those raised in current DCMS reports, to assess what lessons historical analysis may have for present-day policy development.

The social and cultural impact of printing in China during the Song dynasty (960-1279)
Melanie Strong   (2011)
An analysis based on secondary sources of the impact of the growth of printing during this period of Chinese history, with an analysis of what this implies for impact of information technologies in non-Western cultures.

The relation between the way subscription and circulating libraries operated in the 19th century and fear of information as a way of empowering women and the working classes
Lindsay Robinson  (2011)
A study of the nature of subscription library and circulating library provision to marginalised groups, based largely on analysis of primary sources, in particular mid- to late-nineteenth century periodicals

A study of public library services in Great Britain during two world wars
Susannah Oswald  (2010)
An analysis of how the UK public library service demonstrated its importance to wartime society, based on analysis of primary and secondary sources.

Collections and use in early medieval libraries: England and the continent in the eighth century
Katherine Carter  (2010)
An analysis based on both primary and secondary sources of the development of libraries in the wider context of early medieval European culture.

“The only rational end of all reading is information”: the Grub Street Journal and the changing culture of information in the 1730s
Eric Howard (2009)
A content analysis of one of the leading journals of the 1730s, to determine to what extent the information culture of that period might reasonably be termed an ‘information revolution’

On the advantages of history for the philosophy of information
Alan Bracey (2009)
A theoretical analysis of the philosophy of information through history, and the philosophy of history itself, as a basis for the study of documents and cultural artefacts, and of the concept of ‘historicism’ in library and information studies.

An investigation into the relationship between university and library in Cambridge and Oxford 1450-1550
Catherine Sutherland  (2008)
An analysis of the relationship between the university and the library of England’s two ancient universities at a formative time of their development, based on analysis of primary and secondary sources

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