Session 11

Session 11: Securing Access and the Future of Collections

Friday 28th June 2019 – 9:00-10:30

Chair: Kristina Pai, Tartu University Library, Tartu, Estonia

11.1 Sale and Disposal of Collections: Evidence-Based Decision Making and Professional Choices

Kate Kelly and Mary O’Doherty, RCSI Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, Ireland


The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) disposed of part of its antiquarian library by sale and disposal through a process which began in 2011 and was completed in 2015. This paper outlines the reasons that led to this decision, its execution and the benefits to the library and institution deriving from it.

The disposal of library collections, especially by sale, is a sensitive topic within the library profession and academic research communities. At the time it was made the decision provoked reactions ranging from outrage to unequivocal support. Now, seven years on, the short, medium and long-term outcomes of the decision are evident.

Specifically, this paper will provide context for the decision making; describe the evidence based approach taken, and the due diligence process followed; outline the business case presented to the governing body of the College and the importance of getting agreement from the outset that funds from the sale of books would be ring fenced by the College for the purpose of preserving and exploiting the RCSI archives and remaining books; discuss the mechanics and logistics of getting auction ready; the transformation and development of what were severely neglected unique and distinct archives into the RCSI Heritage Collections as a brand, and the provision of associated services to support the visibility, findability and accessibility of the collections.

The paper will also reflect on and illustrate the value of the newly branded Heritage Collections to institutional priorities such as equality and diversity, reputation enhancement, and public outreach. It also seeks to provoke reflection and discussion on professional issues concerning behaviour, ethics and standards, which were encountered on this journey of divestment and transformation.

Kate Kelly is Director of Library Services at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and has spent most of her career in health science libraries.  She has worked variously in rehab, hospital and academic health science settings in the USA and Ireland and also as a consultant for government and public service agencies in Ireland.  Prior to a career in libraries she worked with emigrants and homeless agencies in the non-profit sector. She is a fellow of the Library Association of Ireland (LAI), Chair of the LAI Professional Standards Committee, a member of the An Leabharlann editorial board, Co-Chair of the EAHIL Training and Education Special Interest Group; a distinguished member of the US Academy of Health Information Professionals (AHIP) and a member of the Medical Library Association Librarians without Borders Committee.  She also serves on the Library and Archives Committee of the Royal Dublin Society and is a former Chair of CONUL , the Irish Consortium of National and University Libraries.

Mary O’Doherty, Special Collections Librarian, has witnessed with wonderment and been part of the transformation of RCSI Library over the past three decades. She has dealt with all aspects of RCSI antiquarian books: their provenance, preservation, arrangement and exploitation. She publishes on historical bibliography, Irish medical history, with particular interest in the historical geography of medical Dublin. On the Editorial Advisory Board of the Irish Journal of Medical Science, she is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Medicine in Ireland (RAMI), active in its Section of the History of Medicine, president 2012-14. Consultant Contributor to The Encyclopaedia of Ireland, 2003 and Contributor to the Dictionary of Irish Biography, 2009. Formerly a member 1986- of the Rare Books Group LAI, secretary 1989-91, chairperson 1991-93, she is on the CONUL subcommittee on UDCs and previously, preservation and collaborative storage. She also serves on the Library and Heritage Committee of RCPI.

11.2 Measuring the Impact of Special Collections and Archives in the Digital Age: Opportunities and Challenges

Christina Kamposiori, Research Libraries UK, United Kingdom


The unique and distinctive collections held by research libraries have long been recognised as cultural assets to their institutions with strong research and educational potential. Yet, over the past decades, aspects of a fast changing society, such as the digital revolution, and the challenging economic climate have greatly shaped the practices and values of academic and cultural heritage institutions. Many institutions, including research libraries, have been called to respond to the call for openness in scholarship and culture as well as prove their worth and positive impact on society.

This paper presents the outcome of a recent Research Libraries UK (RLUK) project that aimed to explore and understand the approaches employed by our members and close partners for capturing and measuring the impact of activities based on special collections and archives. This work is directly linked to the strategic goals of RLUK for 2018-2021 and constituted part of the activities undertaken during the second phase of the RLUK Special Collections Programme (SCP) (2017-2018).

In the context of this project, we collected and analysed survey and case-study data from across the RLUK membership with the aim of learning more about the pathways to impact followed by special collection and archive professionals in the digital age as well as the characteristics of successful impact cases and the entailed challenges. The results show a shift towards more audience-focused strategies; by employing these approaches, which often include research, teaching and cross-institutional collaborations as well as public engagement activities, research libraries aim to increase physical and digital access to collections and engage with a variety of audience groups. Yet, RLUK members reported that there are still challenges that need to be addressed, such as issues around terminology or the need for more structured methodologies to capture long term impact of collections or better understand how collections and digital resources are used outside institutions. As part of this paper, a number of recommendations based on the key findings of this project will also be presented.

Christina Kamposiori is currently the Programme Officer at Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and holds a PhD in Digital Humanities from University College London. Her thesis focused on the information practices of art historians. She holds a BA in Archaeology/Art History from the University of Ioannina in Greece and an MA in Cultural Heritage Management from Panteion University in Athens, Greece. She has previously worked as a Teaching and Research Assistant at the UCL Faculty of Arts & Humanities and been a member of the AHRC funded project ‘New Media, Audiences and Affective Experiences’. Before that, she worked as a Junior Researcher at the Digital Curation Unit-IMIS, Athena Research Centre in Greece in the context of the European project ‘Preparing DARIAH’. Her interests include, but are not limited to, the role of the research library in supporting scholarship in the digital age as well as the facilitation of research and learning through collections.

11.3 Securing the Future of Collections at Senate House Library: Data-driven, Collaborative Appraisal and Accessioning for Financially Sustainable Special Collections and Archives

Caroline Kimbell, University of London, United Kingdom


Senate House Library sits at the heart of the federal University of London, acting as a shared, central resource for the advanced study of the arts and humanities. Since 2016, the library’s archives and special collections have been curated and developed partly as a business asset, with licensing and engagement potential ranked alongside research and physical properties when new accessions are considered. With many libraries under pressure to deliver value-for-money services and strategic leadership within their university’s academic strategy, the cross-departmental approach used to evaluate, develop and promote special collections across 8 key subjects is proving successful.

Collection mapping across London’s college and institute libraries has produced a shared evaluation schema (Flagship/Must Keep, Heritage, Research and Teaching Support and Low Priority) which allows institutions to compare and (potentially) exchange material in order to focus effectively on collection strengths, and compensate for the disproportionately high costs of maintaining and producing rare books and manuscripts to readers.

Whereas in the past, collecting policies often mirrored the individual interests and specialisms of librarians, or short-term teaching needs, each accession is now vetted by a cross-departmental group – from storage, cataloguing and production to licensing for digitisation and exhibition planning. Public engagement takes the form of summer and winter seasons of exhibitions, events, seminars, press and media to highlight the library’s unique holdings around themes which key into current research activity, anniversaries and popular interest. Each new accession is evaluated not just for intrinsic research and teaching value, but run past potential digital licensees and through the lens of engagement and exhibition potential. We no longer accept material on loan, and ideally, only accept donations with the full assignment of rights to the University. This approach ensures that the costs of storage, curation, cataloguing and production can be offset by income wherever possible.

The establishment of a staff Green Shoots group, hand-picked for their optimistic, entrepreneurial outlooks, and with a brief to brain-storm and model new business and fund-raising initiatives drawing on the library’s unique collections, heritage spaces and staff expertise has been critical to the cultural change across the organisation essential in our switch to a new business model. Several new have initiatives have emerged from this group to date, including escape rooms, a cinema club, the revival of early computer games deposited within special collections, and the establishment of a lucrative programme of conservation training days, focused on such themes as basic conservation science, environmental and pest control and the protection of heritage interiors during filming.

This paper will set out the lessons learned through the cultural and organisational change programmes necessary to embed an entrepreneurial business-model, and contribute to the conference debate around the social, technical, economic and intellectual role of research libraries today.

Caroline Kimbell joined the University of London’s Senate House Library in 2016 to set up a trial business development programme, based on content licensing, private library membership schemes, venue and space hire. These strands have now been augmented by a range of new initiatives emerging from a staff Innovation Group. Commercial revenue now makes up 15% of the library’s annual income, and has secured the financial sustainability of the library in a challenging funding climate. From 2006-2015, Caroline headed the Licensing team at The National Archives, working with genealogy publishers on national digitisation projects such as the 1939 Register and many partnership projects for academic online and trade book publishers and grant-funding bodies, and before that, she was head of commissioning for Gale Cengage EMEA, creating online programmes in history, literature and music. She has spoken at numerous international conference on business development, public-private partnerships, digital scholarship and innovative approaches to the challenges of keeping rare books and archives relevant and useful to modern researchers.

11.4 Open Science in Practice: Implementing Open Science Activity in Research Organizations

Paul Ayris, UCL, United Kingdom


LERU (League of European Research Universities) has produced a blueprint for how European Universities can embrace Open Science: Open Science and its role in universities: a roadmap for cultural change ( One of the 8 pillars of Open Science identified by the Commission is the Future of Scholarly Publishing. The purpose of this paper is to examine three routes which university and research libraries can adopt to effect change in European publishing practices.

The second part of the paper will take the LERU Roadmap and 8 pillars of European Open Science and construct a model for the future of scholarly publishing which results, embracing areas such as Next Generation Metrics and Rewards. Using this model, the paper will then look at three possible routes to achieving a cultural change in publishing practice to move to full Open Access (OA): (1) full adoption of Plan S for future funded research outputs; (2) the use of existing OA platforms to deliver a sea change in publishing practice; (3) new publishing models such as institutional OA presses and publishing platforms supported by European/global research funders.

The paper will look at the benefits and challenges of each of these approaches, taking into account the issues of academic publishing culture, costs, sustainability, global activity in the scholarly communications space, research integrity and university/funder requirements.

The next part of the paper will look at the role of libraries in delivering each if the changes in publishing practice outlined above. The paper will argue that the role of libraries is crucial in effecting these changes and in supporting researchers in the move to Open Science activity. Open Science presents a real opportunity for libraries to re-define their role in research support. They can do this by taking leadership in the Open Science agenda at University/Research Institute level to offer new ways of delivering on Open Science/Open Access objectives.

The final part of the paper will look at international community-based activities which will help support libraries in their work. The first of these is OPERAS, which is a European research infrastructure for the development of open scholarly communication, particularly in the social sciences and humanities. The second is the development of an Open Science Community of Practice, led by UCL (University College London), which will form one of the ‘helixes’ communities of Vision2020. Vision2020 is an Open Innovation platform for research organisations & businesses seeking funding from the European Union’s €80 billion ‘Horizon 2020’ programme ( Through this mechanism, research libraries will be able to share best practice, work together on projects of mutual benefit and seek the funding necessary to deliver cultural change and to take a leadership role in the Open Science/Open Access landscape.

Dr Ayris is Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services). He joined UCL in 1997.

Dr Ayris was the President of LIBER (Association of European Research Libraries) 2010-14. He is Co-Chair of the LERU (League of European Research Universities) INFO Community. He chairs the OAI Organizing Committee for the Cern-Unige Workshops on Innovations in Scholarly Communication. He is also Chair of JISC Collections’ Content Strategy Group. On 1 August 2013, Dr Ayris became Chief Executive of UCL Press. He is a member of the Provost and President’s Senior Management Team in UCL.

He has a Ph.D. in Ecclesiastical History and publishes on English Reformation Studies.

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