The Society for Libyan Studies Archive

The Society for Libyan Studies is a British International Research Institute affiliated to the British Academy. It supports research, scholarship and collaboration on Libya and connected North African and Mediterranean regions.

Its disciplinary remit includes archaeology, history, geography, the social and natural sciences, linguistics and the arts. The society has promoted large scale archaeological and heritage activities in Libya since 1969.

The Society Archive includes collections of rare books, manuscripts, documents, photographs and drawings on these themes, plus additional material on the UK’s wider research engagements with Libya and North Africa (including much material from before 1969).

The Archives of the Society are held at the University of Leicester by the School of Archaeology and Ancient History. They have been preserved and catalogued and may be consulted by members of the Society and other serious scholars.

Those wishing to consult the physical archive should request access by emailing the General Secretary of the Society on [email protected]

Exploring the Archives

The Online Archive

The materials in the Society Archives are described, under Archives, at It is our intention to develop this resource by the addition of further material in digital form.

The Physical Archive

All the physical items held at Leicester are also described in the University Archives Catalogue.
Below is a list of instructions so you can make best use of the online search facility to find the Society Archive material you are looking for. Alternatively you can watch this short YouTube Video Tutorial 

Search Guidance Notes

  1. Follow this link to the University Archives Catalogue
  2. Start with an Advanced Search (If you use the main search box in the top right corner of each page, this will search across ALL Leicester’s Archives and Special Collections, including the Society for Libyan Studies ones, and may result in unwanted records on the search results page).
  3. On the Advanced Search page, to exclude all of the other University Archives, in the Repository box at the bottom of the page, choose “Leicester University: Society for Libyan Studies“.
  4. To see an overview of all the SLS collections, choose the word “Fonds” (collection) in the ‘Level‘ field, then click ‘Search‘. The Search Results page will give you a list of the different sections of the catalogue.
  5. Click on the number in the DocRefNo box and this will give an overview of a particular collection. Click again on the number in the Document Reference Number box and you will see the tree view (i.e. all of the entries for that collection). Note: A plus sign [+] next to an entry indicates that there are further levels to explore: click the + to open them and browse the entries.
  6. You can leave the “Level” field blank (on the Advanced Search page), and insert search terms into any of the other fields (using Refine Search Criteria to narrow or exclude items).
  7. If you know the Document Reference Number for a particular record, type this directly into the Document Reference Number field. This will produce a hit-list/search results page which you can navigate, as above.

Additional Search Tips

  • By default, a search will look for the exact word or words you have entered. However you can change the default search criteria by clicking the “Refine Search Criteria” option to include all the words; at least one of the words; or without the words.
  • You can use the asterisk symbol * as a wildcard in any part of a word to widen your search. For example entering tunnel* will produce results containing the words tunnels, tunnelling, tunnelled, and tunnel. Entering *ground will bring up underground, overground etc. Note: Adding an asterisk * to the end of a word will allow you to search for both the singular and plural versions of that term, e.g. if you type marriage* into the search engine, you will find results for the words ‘marriage’ and ‘marriages’. Typing marri* will find results for ‘marriage’, ‘marriages’, ‘married’, and ‘marries’.

Using the Records pages

When looking at the “Records” page (which displays just one catalogue entry), the fields shown are:

  1. Document Reference Number: this is the reference you should use when ordering documents and when citing documents. Click the Document Reference Number / DocRefNo field to see an individual record page from the hit list, and then again on the individual record page to see the record in the hierarchy of the collection.
  2. Title: Brief description of the item, or a series or section of records, or the whole collection.
  3. Description: This gives fuller information than that shown in the title field, if required.
  4. Level: this tells you the level of the item being described – from “fonds” (collection) down through section, series, file and item (from larger to smaller units). Usually, only item level descriptions refer to physical items – the other terms reflect the groups the collection has been sorted into. A fonds may fit into one box, or may comprise many hundreds of items.
  5. Extent: this tells you the size of the item, or section of the collection, you are looking at. This may vary from one document / photograph etc, to hundreds of boxes. It is usually only possible to order documents for inspection in the reading room at item and file levels.

Please again note, you can watch a short YouTube video tutorial on searching the Leicester catalogue here 

Feedback and Contributions

The Society welcomes feedback regarding our archive and its use. We are also pleased to consider potential contributions of new material to the archive.

For all feedback or proposed contributions, please contact the General Secretary of the Society, at [email protected]

To join the SLS, please go to the membership page of this website, or simply click here 

Or to apply for one of our research grants please visit the Society Grants page of this website, or click here

Members of the Society may also use our specialist Library, located in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London.

The Society for Libyan Studies and the University of Leicester, October 2018