I recently travelled to York for the National Acquisitions Group Conference (NAG) 2015. The theme of this year’s event was ‘Back to the Future,’ and it was a really interesting and inspiring couple of days, not least because there was so much variety in the presentations and workshops. With presentations from a range of public, academic and special libraries there was something for everyone and allowed us all the opportunity to see what’s happening outside our own domains.
Having a plan
First up was Sara Griffin from York Minster. Sara spoke about their Collection Management Framework which basically acts as their 5 year plan. She commented that the plan was used to prioritise projects and gave us some excellent examples of projects in the library. One example involved using Copac CCM tools to identify the uniqueness of the collections. Another was a digitisation project that worked with digitising the donor book and linking it to the catalogue. What really came across from Sara’s presentation was the importance of having the framework to ensure that time and resources are used wisely.
Advocacy and public libraries
The keynote address was delivered by Neil MacInnes, President Elect of the Society of Chief Librarians. Although based in the public libraries sphere Neil’s address was very inspiring for librarians in any sector and he used the forum to encourage us to advocate for the libraries and for the profession. Fitting very nicely into the theme of the conference he spoke about how many libraries have tried to be too many things for too many people and there is a certain sense in getting ‘back to basics’. This led to an insight into the work of the Leadership for Libraries Taskforce which lists its potential outcomes as to get libraries seen as community hubs and to get libraries valued by decision makers. His presentation highlighted the ‘universal’ offers that libraries should be prioritising, digital, reading, health, information and learning. Slides are available on the NAG website for members and there is a link available for non-member attendees. But I would like to share with you the sentiment in his final slide which went down very well with the audience. “A Library should not shush; it should roar” (Catherynne M Valente, The Girl who soared over fairyland and cut the moon in two.)
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Cataloguing and e-books
The next couple of presentations focused on two very different projects libraries. Sara Pink, Guildhall Library, spoke about cataloguing the incunabula in the collection. Importantly, she was passionate about capturing and making accessible all the extra details, like marginalia, that can make these early printed books completely unique. From incunabula to e-books, Sarah Rayner and Des Coyle spoke to us about provision of e-books in University of Manchester in a presentation aptly titled ‘Books Right Here Right Now.’ This was a fascinating insight into what students want from their library and what they actually use. As university becomes more expensive students are less likely to want to spend money on recommended reading and therefore expect the library to provide for their needs. The project involved providing core texts as e-books for a certain cohort of students and tracking usage. There were interesting findings, for example, more students found print easier to read but access to the e-book encouraged them to read more. Also, e-books were found to be more accessible and more convenient, echoing studies that have pointed to the importance of offering resources at the point of need. For more information I would encourage you to have a look at the blog http://blog.brhrn.library.manchester.ac.uk/.
Musician in residence and Library Champions in HE
After lunch there was even more....starting with a song entitled ‘Practical Coal Mining’! Jennie Hillyard and Gareth Davies-Jones presented on The Seam Project, a wonderful musician in residence project that took place in The Mining Institute in Newcastle. This really is a fun and unique way of making collections accessible in a whole new way and I have to say I personally loved the music. Then another academic library project , The Library Champions Project in King’s College London. This project brought in students as Library Champions and gave them budgets, encouraging them to engage with their peers and acquire books for the library. As engaged students they could also be used to provide feedback on other services etc. I found this project very interesting, in that it gave students the opportunity to be active contributors to the development of the library collections and services. I would definitely encourage anyone considering a similar scheme to have a look at the slides and findings from this project.
Collections Review and Copyright scanning
Following these presentations we broke into groups for workshops. I’m slightly biased about the first workshop I attended as it was presented by my colleague Dorothy Fouracre about the project I’m currently working on. It allowed participants an opportunity to use the rubrics and get a bit more of an in-depth understanding of what we are doing and why. You can read more about it in a previous post I’ve written. The workshop I attended on the second day was about Copyright Scanning. This was fascinating as I realised this is something that universities may not be using to its highest potential. However, it obviously requires resources, both scanners and time, as well as a very good knowledge of copyright law and understanding and investment by academics. Certainly, it is worth taking the time to consider further.
Day two, also brought presentations about a survey of users in HE, an overview of public libraries in Wales, creating readers in public library, a fantastic initiative called the Hive which is an amalgamation of a public and HE library in Worcester and finally a study of students experiences of using e-books on mobile devices. Phew....I’m tired just typing all of that! And that’s not all, there was
also a student panel which was very thought-provoking.
First up, the student panel. Now this was something new for me, but really really interesting as there was an undergrad and two post-grads. E-books, the undergraduate loved, he lived off campus and again the point of need was important. The post-grads wanted a better experience with e-books, the ability to download being very important. Although none of them were aware of extra features, such as highlighting. Perhaps more support in how to make the most of e-books should be available and this was echoed later in the day.
In relation to student-led acquisition they were all very engaged with their libraries and knew about various options including ILL. When asked about most valueable resources the post-grads mentioned integrated search platforms, Worldcat and Copac. Funnily, the post-grads wanted quiet, food-free space in which to study (wishing for a Libro-cop!) while the undergrad wanted to talk and bring in his food and coffee. Clearly it’s very difficult for libraries to be all things to all people but many are managing this very well by creating separate spaces on different floors and providing study or group collaboration rooms. Interestingly, these students couldn’t answer the one question we’d all like answered, how do we engage students who aren’t already using the library?
Users in HE
Owen Stephens presented the results of a survey which looked at where and how library users in HE accessed resources and what they wanted from the library experience. The report is available to download at the following address http://info.iii.com/survey-uk-academic-libraries. It is always good to have a better insight into what the users have to say.
Public libraries, collaborations and creating readers
Next up was Helen McNabb to talk about ‘Public Libraries – the Welsh Perspective.’ I really enjoyed this presentation as I know relatively little about public libraries. Helen spoke about Libraries Inspire the current strategy for libraries in Wales. The level of collaboration across the public library sector in Wales is amazing and allows the services to provide so much more for their patrons. It really is worth taking time to look at their model. As Helen put it “It is much better working together than working apart.” The reality of cuts formed part of the discussion, harking back to the importance of advocacy in our keynote.
Another public librarian, Jill Connolly, Lancashire County Council, was up next to talk about creating readers so that libraries are sustainable into the future. I found her sentiments about the library being a part of family life very heart-warming and it bought back very happy memories of visits to the library with my family as a child. I hate to think of children missing out on the excitement of new stories and adventures, and the thrill of having so many to choose from in the library. The Reading Trail was something I really loved, matching books with tourist attractions in the vicinity really creating something very exciting for their young readers. Also the Book of the Year, picked by teenagers themselves, giving them a sense of ownership and inspiring them. It was so encouraging to see someone so passionate about empowering children and young people to read.
That led very nicely into another initiative that has the amazing statistic of increasing teenage/young people’s borrowing by 572%. YES...572%!!! The Hive is collaboration between Worcester University and Worcester County Council. The collaboration provides so much for the students and the local community including events such as a Study Happy Programme which provides revision skills alongside Pilates and nutrition classes. Staff provide support to all users and there are even opportunities for students to gain work experience providing classes etc in the library to add to their CVs before they even leave university. Again it showcases the benefits of collaboration and I really wish them every success with it.
The final presentation focused on student’s use of e-books. As we all know, the e-book thing is complicated, different licences, different platforms, different devices are just some of the things we have to try to understand. This project tried to get a better understanding of these aspects to better understand the user experience. Interestingly when examining downloads, the project showed the difficulties with software rather than anything the supplier controls. Further reading is available here http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/25379/. For me it really illuminated the amount of different things at play to actually download and use an e-book, no wonder that it can be difficult for students. Perhaps this is another reason for the current, much talked about decline of the e-book?
Glisser – audience involvement
Finally I quickly have to mention Glisser which was used at the conference. Glisser allows the slides to be made available on devices on the day and also allows interaction from the audience. Although it didn’t necessarily work as smoothly as hoped on the day, I can see how once the kinks are ironed out this will be a fantastic addition to conferences. It’s well worth a look!
That’s all folks.....
As you can imagine there was such a huge amount to take in and I left both inspired and exhausted! It’s always nice to look outside your own bubble and see what is going on elsewhere and I love seeing the enthusiasm people have for their jobs in libraries and how much looking after collections and providing a good service to users means to them.