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.
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.