The presentations from the RLUK Aberdeen meeting on 29 and 30 March are now online. They include my talk on the project at half-time and Jackie Dooley of OCLC on the last stages of the Survey. I didn’t catch them all myself; I did hear and would recommend Chris Banks on the story of the amazing new Aberdeen University library and John MacColl for making sense of the many organisations with whom RLUK can work.
Just returned from a very productive RLUK conference in sunny (yes, really!) Aberdeen. The Thursday afternoon featured a session about the Unique and Distinctive strand. I discussed progress so far; the OCLC and UK folks working on the Survey outlined some possible recommendations to be made in the Survey report. We then had fun with stickers, choosing the recommendations that we thought most important and discussing them. This led to lots of thought-provoking debate.
I’ll try to blog about some of the issues that cropped up over the coming weeks. I also had many conversations with other delegates which helped inform this project.
Very grateful to all who took part and to Chris Banks, Siobhan Convery and their colleagues for wonderful hospitality and tours of their stunning new library.
The Unique and Distinctive Project has its own strand at the forthcoming RLUK Members’ Meeting. The venue? The amazing new University Library at Aberdeen (get a taste of the building from this Guardian article and, yes, there will be tours on offer!). The date? 2pm 29 March 2012 .
Wow! Shiny! University of Aberdeen's new library seen alongside the existing Queen Mother Library - from chrisabanks flickr stream (all rights reserved).
The session will be a chance for RLUK Members to find out where we are with the Project at the half-way point (eek!) and to feed in their own ideas and experiences. In particular, we will be sharing the fascinating findings of the OCLC/RLUK Survey: really high-quality data about the reality of our special collections.
I look forward to seeing and chatting to lots of interested people and to some exciting discussion about the futures for our fantastic collections. See you there?
A week or so ago (24/25 November) I was in London for the Research Libraries UK Members’ Meeting. This offered great opportunities:
- to talk to members and find out about the challenges they are facing.
- to introduce the project to the members.
- to have project meetings while we were all together.
"Queen's Tower" part of Imperial College London, from SteveCadman's flickr photostream. Imperial kindly hosted the excellent Meeting Dinner!
On the Thursday afternoon, I met our OCLC colleagues and the UK librarians who helped make the survey instrument UK-friendly. The plan is for Jackie Dooley of OCLC to produce a basic framework based on the results, which will then be interpreted for our local situation by the UK librarians and me. I’m looking forward to working with them all on this great project and it was fantastic actually to meet Jackie after many emails and speaking on the phone (which involves pre-planning to get the time zones right!).
Jackie shared initial findings with the members at the meeting proper on Friday and I introduced the work I’m doing on the wider project. This meeting also covered other activities which intersect with the project, particularly the COPAC Collections Management Project. This offers a way to use the extensive metadata already available on COPAC to establish which book collections actually are unique and distinctive. This is easy with archives which would usually be by definition unique, but hard to do on any scale with printed books. I’ll be meeting the Project staff for further discussion (handily it’s based in Yorkshire).
PS Good news from RLUK’s work on journal pricing (press release). £20 million freed up is exciting and shows that united action by the sector can tackle problems we all face.
And talking of the OCLC/RLUK survey, there’s a handy article by Jackie Dooley in the latest issue of LIBER Quarterly (vol 21 no 1). It’s a useful summary of the findings of the original North American survey and introduces the UK version and this project at the end. Jackie also wonders whether LIBER libraries would be interested in using the survey …
(LIBER is the Association of European research libraries, and naturally has close links with RLUK. Another project partner!).
Time for a cuppa! A family surveyed as part of Social Survey in Stepney, 1946, by LSE students. From LSE Library flickr commons stream
I recently had a sneak preview of the data from the RLUK/OCLC survey. Can’t share just yet, as there is much yet to be done to it, but here’s some points that stand out:
- The response rate was impressive: all RLUK libraries replied and an excellent proportion of others. Thanks to all who took the trouble!
- Linking with OCLC brings the great benefit of their experience of running the North American survey, in terms of timing, questions, writing up etc. It also enables lots of direct comparisons between the results of the two surveys.
- I can see already how the survey results will help individual libraries to benchmark the resources they put into collections against country and sector norms (this will be so useful! Something we really haven’t had before). It will also be invaluable making the wider case for collections.
I’ll be offering whatever help I can in producing the results of the survey to the OCLC folk and the UK Special Collections librarians who have helped adapt the survey. We meet to discuss further on 24 November and aim to publish the results in April.
Special Collections librarians and other curators reading this may remember a recent survey by OCLC Research and Research Libraries UK asking for details about Special Collections funding, collections, staff etc. As you might imagine, the survey is closely linked with this project: both are part of the “promoting unique and distinctive collections” strand, one of RLUK’s five strategic aims for 2011-2014. The survey will provide masses of data about UK collections which will be essential for this project and useful for many other purposes. I’m looking forward to working with the OCLC people on bringing the survey to you soon.