SAS breaks new ground with Humanities Digital Library

Tuesday 3 January 2017

The School of Advanced Study (SAS) will take a bold further step into the field of digital humanities with the launch of its new open-access scholarly books platform on 17 January 2017.

Called the Humanities Digital Library, it is an initiative of SAS and the University of London, and is led by two of the School’s research centres — the Institutes of Historical Research (IHR) and Advanced Legal Studies (IALS). Once live, the website will be available at

Unlike other sites, the resource combines new open-access publications with digital versions of existing print titles that will now, for the first time, be freely available to, and reusable by, anyone. In addition, the library takes a flexible approach to scholarly writing, publishing monographs and edited collections as well as innovative research in longer and shorter formats.

‘The Humanities Digital Library marks a new chapter in open access scholarly publishing,’ explained Dr Philip Carter, IHR’s head of digital history. ‘For authors it offers new opportunities to bring original research directly to readers in a range of publishing formats. For teachers and students it will make books, currently only available in print, far more discoverable and accessible.’

The Library’s launch comes a month after the announcement by the Higher Education Funding Council for England to ‘move towards an open access requirement for monographs’ in the Research Excellence Framework after 2020.

The Humanities Digital Library is open to contributing scholars and writers at the University of London, and beyond, and to partner organisations and learned societies wishing to publish new or existing works under open-access terms. Partners include the Royal Historical Society, the foremost society in the UK working with professional historians, whose ‘New Historical Perspectives’ series will appear on the platform.

From January, scholarly titles in law, history, and classics will be on offer. This list will grow in the coming months to include publications from other humanities disciplines studied and researched at SAS.

Among the first publications to appear is Electronic Signatures in Law by Stephen Mason, a barrister and leading authority on electronic signatures and electronic evidence. Each title is published as an open access PDF, with copies also available to purchase in print and EPUB formats.  

‘Our new Humanities Digital Library will showcase the breadth and depth of the School’s academic content as well as that of our publishing partners,’ said Professor Roger Kain, CBE FRA, Dean and Chief Executive of the School of Advanced Study. ‘We are delighted with it because the needs of researchers, librarians and authors will be at the heart of the digital library’s development, and that will continue as we strive to support the academic community through our digital publishing projects.’


Notes to Editors:
1. For all enquiries, please contact: Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8859 /

2. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2015-16, SAS: welcomed 786 research fellows and associates; held 2,007 research dissemination events; received 24.4 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,145 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities: Being Human. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews

3. The Institute of Historical Research was founded in 1921 and is one of nine institutes that comprise the University of London’s School of Advanced Study. The Institute’s mission is to promote the study of history and an appreciation of the importance of the past among academics and the general public. It offers a wide range of services both onsite and remotely which promote and facilitate excellence in historical research, teaching and scholarship in the UK, by means of its library, events programmes, fellowships, training and publications. It is a leading centre for the creation of digital resources for historians, and promotes the study of London history through its Centre for Metropolitan History and the Victoria County History.

4. The Institute of Advanced Legal Studies was founded in 1947. It was conceived and is funded as a national academic institution, attached to the University of London, serving all universities through its national legal research library. Its function is to promote, facilitate and disseminate the results of advanced study and research in the discipline of law, for the benefit of persons and institutions in the UK and abroad. The institute is engaged in a broad range of activities in the promotion and support of legal research in its widest sense. IALS serves its various constituencies of researchers, nationally and locally, both at Charles Clore House on Russell Square in Bloomsbury, featuring its legal research library, through its digital free-to-internet resources, and through its outreach activities around the country. The institute has an inclusive approach to legal studies embracing the theoretical basis of law, the sources and documentation of the law, and the direct impact of law on human lives.

5. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in Higher Education. Its members are 18 self-governing institutions of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at