RLUK Newsletter January 2014
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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 Library’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 This led to a reflection on whether the form of the “authoritative report” should be superseded by the kinds of articles and documents that have been coming out of our Redefining the Research Library strand; that is, shorter, iterative pieces that both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 ‘expert’ 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 don’t even now know our own strength, which lies primarily in the combined and particular expertise of our member bodies.

We’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 Bristol’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.

Mike Mertens

RLUK's Diary

RLUK Secretariat meeting with The European Library, The Hague

David Prosser at the Future of EU Copyright open meeting, London

David Prosser at HEFCE Monograph Group meeting, London

Mike Mertens meeting with Sarah Armitage, BDS, Birmingham. David Prosser meetings with Sarah Skinner, Grayling and Ann Rossiter, SCONUL

David Prosser meeting with Jisc Collections, London

David Prosser at Open Data Forum, Royal Society

RLUK Secretariat member visit to UCL

RLUK Secretariat member visit to the Wellcome Library

David Prosser at EIRWG meeting, London

David Prosser meeting with Chris Hale, UUK, London

David Prosser at Spotlight on the Digital meeting, London

Dates for Your Diary


RLUK AGM & Members Meeting, University of York

RLUK Conference (Location TBC)

If you would like to submit an event for the diary in the next newsletter please e-mail Melanie Cheung
Call for papers for #Liber2014
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RLUK Spotlight: Mike Mertens

Mike Mertens has been Deputy Executive Director and Data Services Manager of RLUK since May, 2002. Previously, Mike held posts at the University of Birmingham, in Bibliographical Services and Learning and Research Support. Originally involved in NFF-funded work and RSLP cataloguing projects, during that time he also contributed to the creation of the Eurostudies section of Intute, and was commissioned by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office to work on a Conflict Studies portal. Mike currently also serves in an advisory capacity for the following organisations and projects: Archives Hub Steering Committee (2006-); Reference Group for the JISC Project 'Discovery to Delivery' (D2D) (2008-2010); JISC TILE Project Reference Group (2008); Copac Steering Group (2010-); ESRC Peer Review College (2010-); JISC-RLUK 'Discovery' Advisory Board; JISC-RLUK 'Discovery' Technical Group; Chair, LIBER Europeana Working Group, (2010-2013); LIBER Steering Committee for Digitization and Resource Discovery, 2010-2013; The European Library, Technical and Interoperability Group, (2013-); Member, European Library, Library Coordination Group (2013-); Jisc Co-Design National Monograph Strategy Expert Group (2013-); Jisc Co-Design Spotlight on the Digital Expert Group (2013-). Mike was also a director of the Digital Preservation Coalition between 2006-2011).
Of his role in RLUK, Mike says: “The most rewarding aspects of what I do are the ones involving negotiations on behalf of members, and making sure RLUK is involved and represented in places that keep up and push our influence, from Jisc to The European Library. I like to make connections between people and ideas that generate new opportunities for RLUK, as in the Academic Survey with Ithaka S+R. Being able to oversee something arise as a promising concept from a conversation to becoming an actuality for RLUK is what makes me tick".
Mike’s academic background is in languages and history, gaining his PhD in  comparative British and German history from the University of Birmingham in 2000. Mike is still actively researching, and has recently been in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Manchester and MMU on the volume ‘Rolf Gardiner: Folk, Nature and Culture in Interwar Britain’ (2010). Mike has also contributed to work with the artist Olivia Plender on the project ‘Life in the Woods’ (2011) and the exhibition catalogue for her ‘Plus ou moins sorcières 2/3: Épreuves ritualisées’ (More or less witches 2/3: Tests ritualized, Paris, 2012) both of which used the Woodcraft movement and folk culture as the basis for exploring new forms of collective art practice and education. 

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