It is now three months since my last Chair's update and I apologise for the silence. Rest assured, however, I have been busy! Anne Jarvis, Treasurer, and I initiated what will become the annual staff review cycle for David, Mike and Melanie. The process will ensure shared understanding of agreed objectives. We have now approved the budget for next year thus completing the immediate planning round.
Inevitably, open access has formed a strong theme in my diary. I spoke at a conference on open access in the social sciences sharing the platform with Steven Hill of HEFCE and Nigel Vincent of the British Academy. I am delighted that Steven or one of his colleagues will be joining the Board at our September meeting to discuss the current consultation on the role of open access in future Research Excellence Frameworks. I also spent a day at a JISC round table discussion with publisher Sage and library colleagues discussing how open access publishing is developing within individual institutions. It was clear we are all concerned with managing APCs and associated issues including licensing and copyright as well as the potential for 'double dipping' or 'differential pricing' as it was also called. The Shaping Ethical and Effective Publishing Group led by Phil Sykes is coordinating RLUK's activities in this complex and ever changing area, which I know is demanding so much of our attention.
Mike, Melanie and I spent a day in what felt like an underground bunker interviewing potential website developers in May. Rippleffect have been slower than we would have liked in getting the design process underway, however, we are confident that, working with Melanie, we will soon have a more attractive and effective web presence.
In that same Leeds bunker, Nicola Wright of the Associate Directors Network led a stimulating and enjoyable one-day conference on the role of the library in the research process as part of the Redefining the Research Library Model strand. I spoke there about the changing landscape of Higher Education. I tried to bring an international perspective having recently returned from a trip to The Chinese University of Hong Kong where I spoke at the 3rd Academic Librarians conference, "The Yin-Yang of Future Consortial Collaboration and Competition", organised by JULAC, Hong Kong's Joint University Librarians Advisory Committee. I was enormously impressed by the energy and activity of institutions in the Far East and Australasia, and many friendships were formed. Although there may be differences in the environments in which we operate, it seems libraries throughout the world are finding ways to increase their value by working together whether sharing storage facilities, library management systems or staff development.
RLUK has recently become a member of the European Library. I hope many of you will be able to join us at RIBA on 24 September (10:00 - 16:00) for a special meeting to explore the opportunities both for individual libraries and for RLUK itself which could result from greater collaboration with European partners. As well as hearing from the European Library we will also be joined by colleagues from LIBER. You will be able to register for this meeting via the website within the next few weeks.
Finally, I would like to shout loud my thanks to David, Mike and Melanie for their energy and patience, and to the RLUK Board and ADN for all the activities underway and in the planning.
Executive Director's Update
Data-Driven Collection Management
Over the past few weeks RLUK has held two workshops on the COPAC Collection Management Tools (http://copac.ac.uk/innovations/collections-management/). I sat in on the workshop held in London at Senate House and was struck by the two very different case studies. The first described what might be seen as an ‘obvious’ use of the tools - the institution had decided to deaccession little-used items from their collection. They interrogated the tools to look for titles that were in at least eight other libraries within the UK. Those titles they felt secure in removing, so freeing-up space.
The second use related to collection building. A department in the institution had aspirations of improving their overall offering to students and researchers and identified the library collection in that field as a playing a vital role. Library staff were able to use the Tools to discover gaps in the collection by comparing their holdings in that field with those of four other institutions identified by academic colleagues as leaders in the UK. This lead to targeted purchasing fully supported by the academic department.
Over the forthcoming months RLUK will be investing in further developments of the COPAC Collection Tools and we hope to encourage further such examples.
Open Access and the Financial Markets
I was recently interviewed on a windy afternoon by Liberum, a City group of financial analysis. They take a keen interest in the progress of OA as they need to advise their clients on how quickly (if at all) it will affect the profit margins of publicly listed companies such as Elsevier and Informa. I do feel that we are at an interesting point, with one future being very positive for large publishers - that is if we replicate the big deal subscription model in a big deal APC payment model. Perhaps that’s why my comments have had no impact on share prices (although I rather suspect it more likely that nobody has watched the video!)
RLUK Secretariat visit to The Robinson Library, Newcastle University
The ‘RLUK Road show’ rolled up to the Robinson Library in July, to meet with Wayne Connolly, Librarian and Keeper of the Pybus Collection, along with the senior management team. We were given a tour of the library, noting the multitude of well-designed changes to the library’s layout to accommodate particular use by undergraduates, postgraduates and academics, as well as some of the smart technology now baked into the infrastructure, including the versatile in-house overlay atop the discovery layer and cleverly assigned QR codes (of which we conducted an impromptu test, which worked very rapidly – a contextually genius way to suggest further reading based on the shelf being browsed). We also learned of the CollectionsCaptured and Research Reserve services, which have opened up other virtual and extended access to learning and research assets to users of the Library.
In further discussions with colleagues, the themes that arose included the increasing significance of the library in research data management and the prospect of using ORCID to facilitate even greater, more progressive system integration between research information management and data deposit and repository operations; the internationalisation of resources and services provision; the ways in which its unique and distinctive collections will help drive and shape Newcastle University’s researcher and civic engagement; the strong faculty links forged regarding open access policy, and the need to have self-evident sustainability principles informing all business across the library.
With many thanks indeed to Wayne Connolly, Jill Taylor-Roe, Elizabeth Oddy, John Williams, Jo Geary and Jennifer Rankin for a very enjoyable, informative and collegial visit.