27 Jun 2017

A report on the National Acquisitions Group (NAG) Conference, Glasgow 14th & 15th September 2016

Kathryn Briggs, System Librarian, Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology.

I had the privilege of attending the conference thanks to a bursary from the Acquisitions Group of Ireland (AGI). This year’s theme was ‘Public and Academic Libraries - Learning and Working in Partnership’. The conference consisted of a variety of speakers, workshops, a student panel, choice of tours, a first time delegate’s reception, conference dinner and an entertaining after-dinner casino. There were a range of captivating papers, energetic workshops and plentiful opportunities to network with delegates and speakers from across public, academic, and special libraries together with publishers and suppliers.

With so much incorporated in the two days it is impossible to provide a detailed account of all the sessions, so instead I offer an overview of the sessions and speakers which interested me the most. The full programme of events is available online. Firstly I would like to mention the online tool Glisser which hosted the conference presentations – I loved it! Glisser is a slide sharing tool and audience response system that works with attendees own smart phones or other devices. It allows you to write notes alongside the slides and email them to yourself for future reference – which was very useful for this report!

The opening address was delivered by Alison Stevenson who discussed rebuilding library collections after the devastating fire in the renowned Mackintosh library which was nearly entirely destroyed in 2014. Before the fire this library was generally accepted as one of the finest Art Nouveau interiors internationally, with its architectural and artistic beauty.  Off course it was not only the wonderful building that was lost; the books and journals that were housed there were also destroyed.

Interestingly, up-to-date catalogue records were fundamental in disclosing what was lost for restoration and insurance purposes. Surprisingly none of the collection was unique so a decision had to be made on which items were worth conserving ... only 12 out of 8,000 will go back into the new mackintosh library in 2019! Luckily the valuable items were not in this building.  People wanted to help after the fire so the library needed someone to manage social media at all times... The library provided a list of titles that needing replacing and then held off all other offers until a later date. Alison indicated that management of social media and press relations should be in a disaster plan. 30% of titles were gifted back to the library, internet archives were used for titles that were freely available online.

Aude Charillon spoke about empowering users on their rights to use creative works. Aude has been developing a project called Commons are Forever, to help the public understand what is in the public domain or can be used under license, to better appreciate the limits and risks of using copyright images and information. Aude promotes use and re-use, create and share... engaging people with copyright without actually mentioning copyright!  Staff at Newcastle Libraries are encouraged to tell people about free material online at the information desk. For example “no we don't have a print copy of a book but the copyright has expired so you can get it free online”. Aude suggest organising something fun and creative in your libraries to teach something as dull as copyright!

The #WhatsYourStory marketing campaign  was presented by Alison Millar. The campaign from Leeds Libraries was designed to let the public know about all the different services available the local library. Marketing of public library services is particularly challenging because they offer so much to so many people! Leeds Libraries decided that the best way to promote their services would be to have real people advocating on their behalf.



The campaign presented people in videos, on posters and on billboards whose lives were changed for the better as a result of the services available from Leeds Libraries. The impact of #whatsyourstory reached far beyond Leeds; with plenty of media attention nationally and internationally. In addition to reaching new audiences, the social media element of the campaign promoted engagement and interaction. Leeds Libraries are using the responses generated from the campaign to find new case studies and engage with new audiences.

The Access to Research (A2R)  initiative was presented by Jonathan Griffin. Access to Research is an online service for local libraries across the UK, formed is in response to a recommendation in the government-commissioned ‘Finch Report’ on improving access to publically funded research. The report recommended that major subscription-based publishers should license public libraries to provide free access to over 15 million academic articles for free. Search results are generated by Summon; promotion of the service was patchy; the service seen high levels of use in a small number of libraries. Nevertheless, the service was a success with users, but more training for staff, as well as promotion, is needed since it was decided to continue providing the service.

In Library Service Delivery: Independence and Opportunity, Paul Howarth spoke of putting libraries on a strong and sustainable footing for the future by becoming an Industrial and Provident Society. Suffolk’s Libraries Industrial and Provident Society Limited is the formal registered name for Suffolk Libraries . An Industrial and Provident Society, a not for profit, independent and charitable organisation set up in August 2012 to run the service for the benefit of the people of Suffolk. All libraries in Suffolk are run by Suffolk County Council and are operated as an independent charitable co-operative. Paul highlighted the challenges and opportunities that Suffolk’s independence and distinct governance presented in its establishment. One of the central objectives involved saving money; there was a 30% saving over the first 4 years.

The final paper I am going to refer to is Journal Acquisition at the University of East London: meeting rising costs and rising expectations. Thomas Shaw explored innovative approaches to journals acquisition performed in the university. As with most libraries they have never-ending cost pressures with rising user expectations – users expect more ejournals. The University of East London piloted moving away from typical journal acquisition practices to new approaches such as demand-driven models for purchasing journal content. Demand driven acquisition for journals would be fantastic in the perfect world; seamless with an automated workflow after purchase. The problem is that it’s more expensive than inter-library loans, there’s no library ownership and of course there’s multiple structures with multiple publishers. In short they still have rising subscription costs along with rising expectations. In the current environment the price increases are unaffordable and unsustainable. Increased data analysis is required – ultimately we all need to support open access!

Of the four workshops to choose from, I signed up for ‘Copyright, the card game’ and ‘learning & working in partnership with DRM free e-books’.

Copyright the Card Game  is an educational game resource designed to train people in UK copyright law. Seemingly once you start thinking more creatively about copyright education, it becomes less tedious, consequently it’s easier to get people to participate and engage in learning about copyright. The game takes teams from copyright basics through to real world scenarios which explore the relationship between licences and copyright fair dealing exceptions. Working in teams of four or five we had to tackle a number of common scenarios, determining which cards were applicable for the particular situations. An interesting method to teaching the fundamentals of copyright.



The Scottish HE: Learning & Working in Partnership with DRM Free E-books workshop was facilitated by Wendy Walker and Anna Andrzejewska. The workshop explained the procurement process and some of the successes and issues experienced by the Scottish Higher Education Consortium when they undertook a procurement exercise to work with publishing partners for access to DRM free ebooks. After some dialogue participants were split into small groups where discussions on eBook models and consortia possibilities for the purchase of eBook took place.

Additional events included a choice of tours to either the Glasgow Women’s Library or Whittaker Library & National Piping Centre. I choose to visit the women’s library; which is the only accredited museum in the UK devoted to women’s lives, achievements and histories, with a lending library, archive collections and a vast programme of public events. We received a very warm welcome with tea and cake on arrival followed by a walk around the public and restricted areas in a building that effortlessly fuses old with new. At the time of our visit, as part of the Tall Tales tour, the sculpture The Chandelier of Lost Earrings, was on display in the library. The sculpture is made from over 3,000 single earrings donated by owners who have lost the other half of the pair. The tour was a wonderful way to bring to an end a stimulating and extremely informative two days.



I hope this report encompasses the calibre and range of papers as well as workshops offered at the conference. I would have no hesitation in recommending the NAG annual conference to those in search of a well organised event with a diversity of papers, workshops and social assemblies. The conference had a good combination of work and play; allowing for significant knowledge to contemplate and communicate, plus generous networking opportunities. If you require any further information just ask; thank you! http://kathrynbriggs.weebly.com
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