Session 1

Session 1: Fostering the Future of Collections

Wednesday 26th June 2019 – 14.45-16.15

Chair: Giannis Tsakonas, Library & Information Center, University of Patras, Patras, Greece

1.1 The Scholar’s Role in the Future of Academic Library Collections

Danielle Cooper, Ithaka S+R, United States of America

Scholars are creating and amassing increasingly complex personal collections of information over the course of their careers. These personal research collections vary widely depending on the discipline and take many forms, including digitized archival materials, numeric data sets from experiments, audio recordings of interviews, field notes from research sites, and visual materials. While these collections often hold content of considerable research value, this potential is often not fully harnessed because the majority of scholars are not managing their collections optimally, whether for their own research needs, sharing with the community, to meet funding requirements, or the long-term preservation of the research.

This presentation shares research on scholars’ experiences building their own collections in order to consider how this relates to the future of research support services in academic libraries. The data that forms the basis of this presentation is drawn from original comparative research by the presenter on scholars’ research activities in a broad array of disciplines (art history, history, chemistry, religious studies, agriculture, public health, Asian studies, Indigenous studies, language and literature, civil and environmental engineering). The presentation will highlight how scholars’ collecting activities and support needs vary, and, explore how academic libraries can develop responsive support service strategies accordingly.

As academic libraries consider the most effective ways to respond to considerable budget pressures and evolving expectations from campus stakeholders, the future of the collection is at a crossroads. This presentation will consider how supporting scholars as collectors is a potential avenue for developing new research support services that also align with academic libraries’ mandates as collecting institutions. By helping scholars make their own collections more usable and accessible, academic libraries can ensure that these collections have much greater impact for research and education to society-at-large.

Danielle Cooper is the senior qualitative researcher at Ithaka S+R, where she focuses on how information practices are evolving in higher education. Her work currently focuses on creating large-scale cohort-based projects and working with underrepresented and under-resourced academic communities, including Indigenous Studies scholars and community colleges. She is a passionate applied researcher and has trained over 200 librarians to-date to collaborate on Ithaka S+R projects.

Prior to joining Ithaka S+R Danielle worked as a librarian at Ryerson University and George Brown College while pursuing her doctoral studies at York University. Her dissertation is entitled “Personal Touches, Public Legacies: An Ethnography of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Libraries and Archives.”

1.2 Durham Residential Research Library

Liz Waller and Judy Burg, Durham University, United Kingdom

The challenge of promoting research collections to researchers – whether locally or globally – is an ongoing one, with many solutions employed by different institutions over time.

This paper will look at research fellowships as one answer to this challenge. It will describe one collaborative research-led, collections-focussed initiative at Durham which aims to increase use and knowledge of collections (including archives, special book collections, art, museum collections and built heritage) at the University and also at Durham Cathedral and Ushaw College.

Durham Residential Research Library was launched in February 2017, to bring leading researchers from around the world to Durham to work with the outstanding collections in the three institutions, and to enhance the scholarly community in and around Durham City. With internal and philanthropic funding, the aim of the project is to provide fellowships of between 1 and 3 months’ duration, for up to 10 researchers at any one time, for 10 months of the year. So far 60 months of fellowships have been awarded for research in during 2017 – 2020. The ‘Residential’ element is focussed on Ushaw College, a Gothic revival ‘hidden gem’ just outside Durham, where fellows participate in or contribute to a growing public engagement programme, including public lectures and cultural events.

The paper will describe the strategic objectives behind the DRRL project and review the benefits and challenges it has brought to archives and special collections at Durham. It will also set Durham’s scheme in a wider context of fellowships offered by universities across the UK (whether by libraries, or academic departments and institutes). This should prompt a discussion on the effectiveness of fellowships in furthering research-related and collections-related agendas, and the potential for further collaboration in the future.

Liz Waller is Director of Library Services and University Librarian at Durham University, a position she has held since April 2018. Liz has over 30 years experience in UK HE libraries, previously holding the position of Head of Library & Archives at the University of York, and Head of Public Service Strategy at the University of Leeds.

Liz is an elected member of the SCONUL Executive Board and chair of the Collaboration Strategy Group. She also represent SCONUL on the Jisc Library Advisory Board. Liz was a founding member of the Northern Collaboration group of academic libraries, serving on their steering group for a number of years.

Liz has contributed to the professional press on information literacy, student skills, marketing and building design and she has spoken at UK and overseas conferences.

Her current portfolio includes responsibility for libraries, archives, special collections and museums at Durham University. Current interests include online learning and digital humanities.

1.3 COLLEX Persée Network: Reinventing Collections and Services for Research

Nathalie Fargier, Université de Lyon, France, François Cavalier, Science Po Paris, France, Catherine Desos-Warnier, Bibliothèque nationale universitaire de Strasbourg, France

CollEx-Persée is a research infrastructure set up in France in 2017. It brings together 19 research libraries, 4 national operators (Persée for digitisation; ABES for bibliographic data; CTLES for document conservation; INIST-CNRS for data mining) and the Bibliothèque nationale de France. It aims to facilitate access to and use of library collections by researchers in a context where the relationships between these two communities are being tested. Indeed, technical developments and the massive availability of online documentary resources have changed the research process. The majority of researchers in all disciplines have adapted to the direct accessibility of digital content from their computers, leading to a declining attendance of library buildings. CollEx-Persée’s vision is a library that develops hybrid collections (thinking together digital resources, print, research materials including archives and iconographic resources) backed by services that meet the new needs of researchers as users of information sources of all kinds and producers of data and research results.

The originality of CollEx-Persée relies on the choice of a national network organization dedicated to research support and governed by university presidents, librarians and researchers. The members of the consortium identify and carry out various actions in common: digitisation programmes; collection mapping; concerted licensing of specific electronic resources; assistance with research data management; open science support; document delivery; shared conservation plans, etc. CollEx-Persée is funded by the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research. These human and financial resources allow for supporting structuring programmes, launch calls for projects and organise bibcamps and study days to bring communities together and share expertise.

CollEx-Persée also aims to share vison and best practices with other similar European organizations during meetings (German-French seminar in Strasbourg in December 2017 with FIZ- Fach Informazions Dienste). LIBER would represent a perfect hub for this goal.

The communication will first present the strategy for creating CollEx-Persée and the breakthroughs introduced by this new system, then its organization, networking activities and first achievements. We will focus on calls for projects that have made a very concrete contribution to bringing librarians and researchers closer together. Finally, we will present the emerging challenges, in particular the management of change within libraries and training for new professions.

Nathalie Fargier is the director of Persée, a joint unit service which operates digital and shared services, and provides digitized heritage content to the scientific community. Committed to democratizing access to culture and knowledge, she contributed to the creation of the Persée portal, which provides open access to entire collections of academic journals, serials, books and proceedings. Since 2013, she has reinforced the Persée positioning in the fields of Digital Humanities and Open Data. She is an expert for the French Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation regarding digitization projects. As such, she supports calls for proposals it finances. Since 2017, she has been the co-leader of the research infrastructure “collEx-Persée” for organizing the digitization process with French research libraries and for designing new services dedicated to researchers.

Lightning talk

Curating for Every Audience: the Library of Trinity College Dublin Exhibition of Political Cartoons

Shane Mawe, Gail McElroy, Laura Shanahan, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

The Library of Trinity College Dublin is home to enormously diverse collections, spanning 13th century BC papyri, through works such as the early medieval Book of Kells, to unique digital archival material dating from the present day. The potential engagement with these collections is almost infinite, yet Trinity College Dublin is in the highly unusual position of being both a working academic research library and top-five (in Ireland) visitor attraction – which makes identification of a target audience challenging.

Over one million people visited the Library in 2018, to visit the Book of Kells, but the library, as part of its engagement and expansion mission, also presented these visitors with a series of temporary exhibitions, drawn from our vast collections. This paper examines audience engagement and learning after exposure to one such temporary exhibit.

For the peak tourist season of 2019, and to coincide with the LIBER Conference, the Library’s temporary exhibition will centre around a significant collection of 2,400 18th and 19th century Irish political cartoons. The collection was gifted to the Library by alumni, lawyer, and writer, Nick Robinson. The Robinson collection is highly-visual and, in some instances, the caricatures are brashly amusing. However, their subject matter is specifically Irish and historical in nature, so they do not always lend themselves to easy interpretation, particularly from overseas visitors.

In order to make this exhibition accessible to “every audience’ a two pronged approach was adopted. First, a theme with global and contemporary resonance was chosen and second, a paired strategy was implemented, with the historical cartoons twinned with a present day image. Overall, the exhibition seeks to portray the cyclical nature of history and the role satire has played in processing political events. It is intended that the visual nature of the works will allow the themes of the exhibition to be read through the imagery, rather than through traditional interpretative labels.

With an on-going commitment to public engagement, there is also a strong intention for wide access to the exhibition, allowing members of the public, unable or unwilling to pay for the Book of Kells exhibition, to experience our collections and to benefit from a new understanding through this exposure. Social media, public forums, and press act as significant contributors to widening participation.

Finally, the exhibition is being treated as a benchmarking mechanism to better understand audiences and the impact of contact with special collections material. The curators developed an audience impact plan, and will be conducting, for the first time, a research-led survey of visitors, to assist with future exhibition and public engagement planning.

This paper will present a live and lived experience of ‘Research Libraries for Societies’, with the discussed exhibition being on display throughout the duration of the LIBER conference, within the Trinity campus. To that effect, it is intended that the paper will allow opportunities for discussions around longevity and impact.

Shane Mawe is an Assistant Librarian in the Department of Early Printed Books and Special Collections, at the Library of Trinity College Dublin. Shane’s role allows him to work regularly with the Long Room’s rich holdings of rare books, and to curate some of the temporary exhibitions of Trinity collections. These exhibitions have included the popular ‘Changed Utterly: Ireland and the Easter Rising’ exhibition and blog series – forming part of Trinity’s contribution to the Irish Decade of Centenaries. Shane has also worked on significant Library projects, including a Mellon-funded large-scale retrospective cataloguing project, and activities supporting the Trinity Visitor Experience Project, with trial content and displays to inform future design developments with the Book of Kells exhibition.

Along with specific interests in crime fiction, on which Shane has published, he devotes a worrying amount of time and money to his other interests in music and sport.

Gail McElroy is Professor in Political Science and Head of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin. Her research interests are primarily in the area of legislative and party politics.

She has been actively involved in the Irish National Election Study since its inception and also runs the Irish module of the Comparative Candidates Study.