More from the Tour: Visits to Bristol, Oxford and Sheffield
We ended the year with three visits that demonstrated the breadth and depth of the challenges that members are tackling. There were some overall themes that arose from our discussions, such as Research Data Management, but several that were more institution-specific.
After fruitful discussions with Martin Lewis and his senior management team, Tracey Clarke and Keith Dean, during which we learned of the progress being made on the University Libraryâ€™s Strategic Plan, we were given the opportunity to present to and speak with further staff in a very engaged and discursive session. One of the conversations that elicited a lot of interest was on how to enhance communications. This led to a reflection on whether the form of the â€œauthoritative reportâ€ should be superseded by the kinds of articles and documents that have been coming out of our Redefining the Research Library strand; that is, shorter, iterative pieces that both instigate and absorb debate. Staff also threw up the role of social media and blogging to achieve the same end. The new website should be able to accommodate these lines of interaction with members much more readily, and the case was effectively made to continue in the short â€˜expertâ€™ reporting mode of the RRLM activity.
We were generously greeted and hosted by Frankie Wilson, who had also kindly organised the day, as well as other members of the Bodleian Libraries Cabinet, including Catriona Cannon, Chris Fletcher, James Legg, Alena Ptak-Danchak, Ruth Davies, Christine Madsen, Virginia Llado-Buisan, Laura How and Michael Williams. Discussions ranged from the state of the Humanities generally to the nature of special collections. Once more we then had the additionally welcome opportunity to speak with members of staff from elsewhere in the library. Amongst other themes, such as how do we move as a profession to being and acting truly digitally, a particular issue arose around the collective nature of RLUK and how that corporate weight could be used to get behind national discovery services accommodating, bolstering and rationalising collections beyond the purely bibliographic for the benefit of the teaching and learning communities. The impression that this debate left us with is was that perhaps we donâ€™t even now know our own strength, which lies primarily in the combined and particular expertise of our member bodies.
Weâ€™d like to thank the staff that helped end our visit on a high with tours of the impressive Bodleian Libraries and the Radcliffe Science Library.
Dr Jess Gardiner and her team, Mike Hall, Sarah Harrop and Lin Amber played host to us at a very invigorating day of information exchange and debate at Bristol. We were also joined throughout the day by other members of staff, who shared their work with us, as well as visiting Michael Richardson in Special Collections, and further sites around the Bristol Campus, including the magnificent and recently refurbished Wills Memorial Library. One of the chief aspects that came forth very strongly was Bristolâ€™s highly progressive approach to research data management. Stephen Gray gave an overview of how the data.bris repository and service has been established firmly in the library out of a previous Jisc MRD project. The active collaboration between the Library, IT Services and Research and Enterprise Development (RED) was clearly a major success factor in making this transition. As a result, we reflected on recent RDM debates within RLUK that have highlighted exerting leadership and taking ownership of this space are key components of success, challenging though it may seem.