Reading for peace in the 21st century: refreshing the Commonweal Collection

New times call for new stock

Since the 1950s, Commonweal has collected books and other resources that help us to eliminate violence from our world, in order to loan them out to people who want to make that happen.

Of course, to keep our collection relevant, we need to keep adding new titles. All our stock is donated, so we rely on the hard work of the volunteers who request new items and the generosity of those who donate them.

We’ve just overhauled our approach to acquiring new stock so that we can do this more effectively. This means there are now more ways for volunteers to become involved – more on that below!

The background: about the Collection

The Commonweal Collection is an independent collection based in the JB Priestley Library at the University of Bradford, UK. It contains thousands of books and journals, and a small number of DVDs.

Although the Collection is housed in a university (and it’s well used by students and academics), our core focus at Commonweal is supporting activists. Members of the public can join and use the Collection free of charge.

Commonweal - Protest movements stock

Some of the resources available to the public at the Commonweal Collection – from section Fm: Protest movements (full classification list)

More about Commonweal’s history

Rethinking the acquisitions process

Our small group of volunteers meets regularly to hunt down the best new titles and to request donations.

At a meeting in summer 2017, our volunteers researched new publications as usual, but they also did some hard thinking about how we can acquire new stock more readily.

Getting ideas…

Commonweal acquisitions group summer 2017

One excellent source of inspiration is reviews of books and DVDs, many of which feature in the Collection’s own journals.

But we also want to hear suggestions from Commonweal members, and other readers and activists.

So we’ve listed the information we’d need from you if you were awesome enough to suggest an item!

At the moment we’re particularly keen to strengthen our fiction section, but non-fiction ideas are equally welcome.

If you need a reminder, we cover nonviolence theory and practice, peace, disarmament, environmentalism, human rights, development, anti-racism, social and economic alternatives, creative education, and more.

Basically, any resource that teaches us how to make the world a fairer place with less suffering in it is a resource we might well be interested in.

Polite requests

In the past, we’ve mostly asked publishers for donations, but now we’re also going to ask authors. We will contact reviewers, too, because they might have review copies they no longer want.

We also plan to produce reviews ourselves. There are plenty of thinking, caring people in our activist and academic networks who could write quality reviews of new items we’re interested in. We’ll share these reviews on here or submit them for publication elsewhere as appropriate, and any review copies we’re allowed to keep can be added to the Collection.

In summary:

  • Which new works are must-haves in a 21st-century library on nonviolence?
  • Are you an author, reviewer or publisher of nonviolence resources? Could you donate a copy to us?
  • Would you like us to review your nonviolence publication?
  • Do you fancy writing a review for us?
  • Are you near Bradford? Would you like to become one of our wonderful acquisitions volunteers, helping to source and process books?

Let us know!