RLUK was founded in 1983 by seven university libraries (Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, London, Manchester and Oxford) and initially operated under the name CURL (Consortium of Research Libraries).

During this time we sponsored some of the major free online UK resources in support of research, including:

  • Copac, a union catalogue of the holdings of over 60 UK national, academic, and specialist libraries
  • Archives Hub, a national gateway to descriptions of UK archives of interest to education and research
  • SHERPA, an award wining service whose aim is to facilitate the rapid and efficient worldwide dissemination of research output.
  • UK Research Data Services initiative with RUGIT
  • 19th Century Pamphlets Online digitization of 1 million pages of pamphlet material for use by researchers with JSTOR and Jisc
  • Fundamental redesign of the UK’s metadata infrastructure since our own inception (co-sponsored project with Jisc).


In 2008 we changed our name to Research Libraries UK and launched the first phase of our Power of Knowledge plan, outlining six strategic objectives:

  • Developing the research library workforce
  • Building the new research information infrastructure
  • Resource discovery and delivery
  • Digitisation
  • Demonstrating value
  • Increasing our effectiveness


The second phase of The Power of Knowledge plan, launched in 2011, continued the main strands of the first phase, whilst addressing emerging issues affecting the sector. Our objectives were updated to five core aims:

  • Redefining the research library model
  • Collaborating to reduce costs and improve quality
  • Shaping ethical and effective publishing
  • Promoting unique and distinctive collections
  • Modelling the library role in research data management


Powering Scholarship was our strategic plan for 2014-17, which focused on developing our libraries to drive forward research and innovation in all disciplines, responding to changes in the information landscape while building on our rich heritage of collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives.


Top image courtesy of  Paul Grundy, British Library