The Walford Award 2014

Amanda Duffy, Chair Walford Award Judging Panel

Steve Roud

This year’s winner of the Walford Award holds a unique position. In 2013 the winner of the Reference Awards was The New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, edited by Steve Roud and Julia Bishop. In 2014 the winner of the Walford Award is Steve Roud.

As well as editing what the judges described as ‘this academic but beautiful book’, Steve is founder of the Folk Song Index, author of The Penguin Guide to Superstitions of Britain and Ireland, The English Year, and London Lore. All show the highest quality of research, editing and presentation and are handsome volumes.

The Folk Song Index itself currently comprises 184,316 records and Steve has identified some 23,612 songs. The Index seeks to provide details of English-language traditional songs which have been recorded in any medium – books, journals, newspapers, manuscript collections in public and private hands, published or unpublished sound recordings, videos, websites, etc.

Originally designed as an adjunct to the Folk Song Index to aid with historical research in that field, the Broadside Index has now achieved a life, and importance, of its own. The bulk of the over 150,000 entries comprise references to songs published on printed street literature trade (late 16th to late 19th centuries) in the form of broadsides, chapbooks, and cheap songsters. But coverage has been extended to include a much wider range of popular and vernacular songs including eighteenth century songbooks and nineteenth century music hall publications. Originally envisaged as covering Britain and Ireland, material from across the English-speaking world is now included. The cut-off date is about 1920. The Broadsides Index will soon to be instrumental in linking collections at the Bodleian Library, the University of California and Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. To anyone remotely interested in this area, look at the material on the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library website, and you will see the depth and quality of these sources.

Steve was once a librarian at Croydon Local Studies Library and this should be a source of great pride and the reason for the highest standards achieved in these works.

The ISG Walford Award celebrates best practice in the reference and information sector in the UK. It acknowledges an individual’s outstanding contribution to that world. If what I have already said has not convinced you of Steve Roud’s qualifications for receiving the Award, I will quote from his autobiographical notes:

If there is one unifying psychological trait in all my doings, it is that I enjoy providing the means of access to information for researchers and enthusiasts, whether it is by organising books on the shelves, indexing everything in sight, or organising ways in which those interested in our subject can be put into contact, meet and discuss, and so on.

It is with great pleasure that the CILIP Information Services Group gives the 2014 Walford Award to Steve Roud – and may he carry on with all this work for many years.



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