Here’s a quick update on project progress! It’s a year since I started work on this project. It has been incredibly interesting – I’ve learned so much and I hope that I can pass some of this on. I’ll reflect more on this things later on.
We have a Board meeting tomorrow, which will discuss draft seven to see how much more work is needed. The meeting will also focus on the recommendations in the report and on ways to take the project forward beyond its publication.
I spoke about the project at a recent conference: the CILIP Rare Books and Special Collections Group annual study conference. This year’s event, Speaking Truth to Power, was all about advocacy – perhaps the greatest challenge facing special collections curators in these difficult times. This project is also all about advocacy: making the case for collections to library directors, and in turn helping them make the case to vice-chancellors and other key people. My talk (which I will put online at some point) tried to share some of the most important findings of the project so far, along with more general reflections about advocacy and power in our sector. I think I was able to highlight some new ideas for people to take away and ponder e.g. working with local creative industries. More about the conference on my blog.
I’m now busily writing up the Project Report. Not alas in a Library as magnificent as the one in this lovely image from the Wellcome. My final version is due with the Project Board on 22 August.
A woman is sitting at a desk in a library, writing a letter.
Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
Obviously there is so much that could be included in the Report, but making it too long and complicated makes it less likely to be useful. The Board therefore are asking me for a short and strategic report aimed at the primary audience for this work: RLUK library directors. It will make the case to them for investment and innovation in UDCs and therefore help them make their case to chief executives etc. We’ll include compelling case studies and lots of examples and quotes to keep things interesting.
Useful evidence not included in the Report will be made available online e.g. extra case studies, full literature review. We hope that the Report and the accompanying work will help librarians, archivists, their managers and of course collection users outside RLUK too. As I can confirm, we face the same challenges and opportunities.
The Report is not an end, but a beginning. It’s part of a wider strand of RLUK interest in making UDCs available which includes the forthcoming publication of the Hidden Collections and OCLC/RLUK surveys (I will let you know dates as soon as I have them). Most importantly, the Report will include recommendations for further action by RLUK, such as creating toolkits on key topics.
A report full of fascinating information about archives services in Scotland was published this week: The Nation’s Catalogue: Scotland online, by Caroline Williams, published by the Scottish Council on Archives. The report was produced to explore technological and funding options in furthering the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN), but is of much wider interest and well worth a read by anyone interested in archives.
The report looks at the findings of a survey on catalogues and resource discovery, including hidden collections. These are key parts of this project and this survey will offer useful evidence. I was particularly interested in the sections on changes in approach and practice since a previous survey in 2009: recent, but in this fast-moving sector the changes are striking. I also liked an attempt to bring the sheer scale of collections to life by comparing the linear distance of the archives concerned to the distance between Edinburgh and Stirling or five miles of end-to-end Eddie Stobart lorries!