The Christmas break is now only days away. I hope you all enjoy the turkey and mince pies as well as a few restful days away from the hectic academic round.
The RLUK Board met last Thursday and Friday in the stunning surroundings of Madingley Hall, Cambridge to review and discuss the new strategy, Powering Scholarship
. Our aim was to agree an operational framework within which we can achieve the objectives of our five strategic themes:
- A collective approach: re-shaping the modern research library collection
- Open scholarship: creating a new environment for the communication of research outputs
- Nothing hidden, nothing lost: exposing and exploiting our collections
- Mapping a changing research landscape: the role of libraries in research and researcher training
- A creative community: nurturing leadership, innovation and skills throughout our libraries
There is much already going on. We have worked with Jisc to develop the Copac Collection Management Tools. Our Memorandum of Understanding with The National Archives
provides a sound foundation for a number of collaborative projects. We continue to press for better financial arrangements with publishers. We are active and influential members of the Open Access Implementation Group
. Our membership of The European Library is bringing increasing exposure for RLUK collections. We have just agreed to partner with Jisc to work with Ithaka S+R on a further large-scale survey of researchers. The Associate Directors’ Network continues to feed in new ideas as well as developing the leadership skills of its members.
However, we know that there is much more to do. We agreed to move away from associating each strategy theme with a group. Instead the Board feel that it will be more effective to focus on ‘task and finish’ groups with clearly defined briefs and outputs. We also hope that non-Board directors will be interested and willing to become involved in moving projects forward. We discussed the role of the Executive and agreed that in order to ensure continuity and provide maximum co-ordination, either David or Mike should chair any new groups. Partnerships have always figured large in the operation of RLUK and we believe that this will be the case for the foreseeable future. I have already mentioned Jisc, TNA, TEL and Ithaka S+R. We also value our relationship with SCONUL and are building closer relationships with OCLC. We are mindful that our institutions operate globally and that close ties with libraries and with library organisations in Europe, the USA and Canada are vitally important as we move to managing collections collectively.
We went on to review what the priorities for new projects should be for the coming 12-18 months. There was strong support for a ‘task and finish’ activity around developing options for a shared print service for RLUK members. Board members also felt it vital to address over-inflation increases in journal prices through robust negotiation with publishers. We discussed building ‘communities of practice’ among staff delivering services around research support focussing both on scholarly communications as well as research data management. We felt that leadership development could be encouraged through programmes involving shadowing, internships and possibly secondments.
These ideas and others will be worked up into a paper for the Board to consider at our February meeting. The Board will consider proposals in the context of financial projections to ensure they are realisable within the consortium’s resources.
Before travelling to Cambridge I attended the 4th meeting of the panel to review the RCUK Policy on Open Access. The Review has now received and considered written evidence. Oral evidence sessions involving publishers, learned societies, and researchers have also been completed. The panel has also received an initial analysis of the data submitted by HEIs concerning compliance with the RCUK OA policy including information on spending from the block grant. All the evidence both written and oral will be available in due course through the review website
The report will focus on the impact of the policy on publishers, learned societies and researchers and on HEIs. There will be a strong focus on the administrative challenges, many of them unanticipated, that libraries and support staff have had to deal with since the introduction of the policy. The panel is considering recommendations that could simplify reporting. The report will be published in February. I suspect drafts will form my Christmas and New Year reading!
With very best wishes for a peaceful holiday and a productive 2015!