The ILAS Library and its staff moved into the Senate House Library in August 2009. The library collections have been reclassified according to the Library of Congress classification scheme and integrated with the Senate House Latin American and Caribbean Studies collection, thus creating a new Senate House Library Latin American and Caribbean Studies Collection which combines the holdings and strengths of both the ILAS and SHL collections to provide over 90,000 volumes of research level material.

The combined holdings cover most aspects of Latin America and the Caribbean, the geographical area covered including all the territories of Central and South America as well as the islands of the Caribbean (including the English-, Dutch- and French-speaking communities), the islands of the South Atlantic (the Falklands/Malvinas and South Georgia), the Galapagos Islands and the Antarctic territories administered by Chile and Argentina. The collection maintains the strengths of the ILAS Library (founded in 1965) together with those of the Senate House collection.

The strengths of the combined collections lie in their emphasis on material in the humanities and related social sciences: history, politics, economics, anthropology, sociology, gender studies combined with an emphasis on literature and areas such as film and documentaries from or on Latin American and the Caribbean.

Much of the material is unique and has been sourced directly from the countries of origin. There is therefore a high proportion of non-English language material: Spanish, Portuguese and French.

For enquiries about our collections, please contact our librarian Laurence Byrne


Most of the collection is loanable and available on open access, on the 6th floor of Senate House Library.  Other material is held in the closed stack and basement of SHL and in our offsite storage facility. Additional material is also held within SHL Special Collections eg Goldsmiths Kress.

The old ‘ISA’ Teaching collection is located on the 6th floor at the start of the collection sequence. It may not be borrowed, but it is available to all Library users for Reference Only use within the Library.
Photocopying facilities are available

Special collections

Special collections/special materials include:

The Political Archives Collection which was donated to the Institute by the Contemporary Archive on Latin America .It consists of 90 boxes of pamphlets, posters, reports, miscellaneous journals and some ephemera, produced by political parties, pressure groups, NGOs, trade unions and governments, predominantly in Spanish and Portuguese, with some English language material. Every country in the region is represented, but there is a particularly rich collection of Chilean material. Items were catalogued as part of a joint project with the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (completed 2005) see .The collection has been enhanced by Professor James Dunkerley’s donation of 11 boxes of material from Bolivia.

The BOLSA Collection - the library of the Director, of the Bank of London & South America Ltd., and consists of about 250 volumes, primarily of Latin American travel and histories.

The collection has not yet been processed, but a handlist is available here.

The Cuban Drama collection -part of the Jan Shepherd bequest, this collection consists of about 100 volumes of texts and critical works dating from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Items have been separately catalogued and classified and are on the library catalogue.

The CIIR Archive - a selection of the archive of the Catholic Institute for International Relations (now Progressio) - an international development charity.

The Leslie Sklair Collection - a donation of both monographs and archives relating to the maquiladoras on the Mexican-U.S. border.

The Film and Documentary Collection includes the Nissa Torrents video archive and microMACRO video collection plus a wide range of feature films and documentaries. Acquisitions are now mainly in DVD format together with library tapings. There are about 800 items in total.

The collection has been enhanced by the donation in 2012 of the Canning House Film Collection (some 400+ items).

Other materials include the personal regional collections of academics

eg the Henry Finch Uruguay collection and the Victor Bulmer-Thomas Central America collections. The Victor Bulmer-Thomas Central America collection is being processed, but not all of it has been catalogued as yet: a very basic handlist is available here to help you locate items which have not yet been catalogued.

The Henry Finch Uruguay collection has not yet been catalogued: a handlist is available here

The library also contains special materials such as the BBC & Reuters Latin America News Archives, and a recent donation by Dr Robert Howes, consisting of political ephemera he collected relating to the elections for the National Congress and the State Assemblies held on 15 November 1986 in the States if Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul. These materials are awaiting processing.

Most material is available via the library catalogue, but please contact the librarian for further information.

N.B. there are holdings of Latin American and Caribbean interest in a variety of Special Collections that are not specifically Latin American or Caribbean Special Collections, for example:

Goldsmiths’ Collection: early travel accounts, slavery and economic literature before 1850

Porteus Library: some material on the slave trade, travel and topography, mainly late 18th C - early 19th C.

Special Collections Latin American Studies (shelved at Special Coll. LA in Historic Collections):

c. 300 items (dating from 17th C.) covering a range of geographical areas and subject fields e.g. travel, slavery, history, art, literature

MSS: Prof. Robert Arthur Humphreys (1907-1999):papers relating to the teaching of Latin American history (4 boxes)

Studies databases

SHL has subscriptions to these essential Latin American Studies databases:

HAPI (Hispanic American Periodicals Index)

PRISMA (Publicaciones y Revistas Sociales y Humanísticas) – a full text database


Latin Americanists also benefit from the wider range of electronic databases provided by Senate House Libraries, access to many of which is available offsite.

ILAS Collection at the Senate House Library

 Senate House