24.6 Introducing the POVALi Slide Library

The Paul Oliver Vernacular Architecture Library and POVALi Slide Library
– Geoffrey Morgan, Oxford Brookes University

Paul Oliver, architectural historian and anthropologist with an interest in African-American music, deposited his significant book collection, along with 20,789 35mm slides, at Oxford Brookes University’s Headington Library some years ago.  Known for his writing on vernacular architecture and for having edited the 1997 work Encyclopaedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, Oliver travelled widely and took many photographs of the vernacular form.

The print book collection, providing access to unparalleled knowledge about world vernacular traditions, is on open access and available to the public.  Titles already catalogued are searchable online via POVALi.

Slides from the POVALi slide collection were scanned, using funding from Paul Oliver and an external body, and subsequently by using student volunteers.  These digitised images are available via the link above.  The digitisation process was labour intensive, requiring the addition of metadata to ensure discoverability.  The metadata uses a controlled vocabulary appropriated from the Encyclopaedia’s index, but currently does not include any sense of the materials used in each building.  Images are made available under a Creative Commons Licence, meaning anyone may use them freely, with attribution.  So, here’s a favourite of mine from an unidentified North African country…


Oliver, P. (1967) Ghorfas. Available at https://radar.brookes.ac.uk/radar/items/9c5d334d-b8fe-49b1-9ae3-9c3acc53619b/1/ (Accessed: 18 July 2018).

Review by:
Sarah Nicholas | Cardiff University



2 responses to “24.6 Introducing the POVALi Slide Library

  1. carlamarchesan

    So Geoff, when can we come and visit? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great idea Carla!

    Our students at the University of Bath have made a lot of use of this resource for project work on History and Theory / Vernacular Architecture. It’s a great resource.


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