The TUC Library Collections are a vital resource for labour history research, and pretty much everything added to the collections since the contents of the TUC Library moved to London Metropolitan University in 1996 has been added to the university’s online catalogue.
But the great bulk of material collected since the library was founded in 1922, perhaps as much of 80% of everything there, is recorded in a card catalogue made up of a massive 120,000 cards, which means that until now the only way to search it has been to visit the library in person.
This fantastic resource has now been scanned and can be accessed as a series of PDF files or digital ‘drawers’ in alphabetic sequence.
The cards record serials, publications, monographs, pamphlets and books. They can be searched by author, publisher or common keywords (titles will only appear on cards under these categories and cannot be searched for directly). The PDF files are also searchable to a certain degree, but since many cards are handwritten the character recognition software used was not always successful in recognising words.
The core areas of the library collection are the publications of the TUC since its foundation in 1868, reference and historical works on the labour and trade union movement, union publications from the UK and overseas, and documents relating to working conditions and industrial relations in various industries.
The collections also contain material collected from the wide-ranging campaigns and policy areas in which the TUC has been involved over the course of its history, including social policy areas such as health, housing, education, unemployment and social security.
A major strength of the library is the large holdings of pamphlets from unions, pressure groups and campaign movements, collected from the nineteenth century onwards, which have survived here as in few other comparable libraries. Important research collections cover: union activities, international affairs, labour biography, women workers, strikes, Labour Party and Communist Party.