By L ( Elizabeth ) Lawes, on 9 July 2020
Due to the current campus lockdown, this year’s Slade School of Fine Art student degree shows were cancelled – a disastrous outcome for those students who had spent three or four years (BA/BFA) or two years (MA/MFA) studying towards that moment, their one opportunity to showcase their work to the wider world.
But Slade staff and students are nothing if not open to experimentation and have embraced the restrictions by producing a virtual degree show. Each student has their own microsite which includes a personal statement and images or video content.
One of the highlights is the work of BA student Mataio Austin Dean, who has produced a tripartite work titled Colonial Structures focusing on UCL’s colonial connections. Anyone who attended the Special Collections Late event, Protest! Voices of dissent in art and text, will remember Mataio’s moving performance of the late 18th century industrial ballad, The Four Loom Weaver.
The showcase also has some associated live events; from 13th July Slade Radio will broadcast audio work, discussion, talks and other aural miscellany via Twitch.
The online platform is available until 14th July and is an opportunity to celebrate the work of students graduating, before a celebratory physical exhibition next year.
By Tabitha Tuckett, on 9 July 2020
The winner – Alexandra Plane – and six other finalists have been announced for this year’s Anthony Davis Book Collecting Prize, which aims to encourage students at an early stage of collecting physical books, manuscripts and printed material.
The competition is open to any student studying for a degree at a London-based university, and this year received a record-breaking 64 applications – the largest number in the prize’s history. Universities represented included Birkbeck, Queen Mary University of London, Goldsmiths, SOAS, King’s College London, and UCL which hosted the prize for the first time this year.
Collectors under lockdown
Despite the pandemic, students applied from wherever they found themselves during lockdown, from Norway to Texas, Bulgaria to China, Vienna to North Wales, with many applicants unexpectedly reunited with, or separated from, their collections.
The range of collection themes was similarly wide, from Singaporean debut poets to Slovakian Beat poetry, Norfolk history to a 20th-century novelist who used eight different pseudonyms, photobooks and queer manga to bilingual parallel texts and women’s genealogical health.
Finding the collectors of the future
The guidelines of the competition specify that ‘the intention is to encourage collecting and we expect that applicants’ collections will be embryonic, so their size, age and value are irrelevant. What is much more important is the enthusiasm and commitment of the collector, the interest of the theme and the vision of how the collection will be developed’. But selecting a winner from so many applicants was a challenge.
After a process of longlisting, shortlisting and interviews, the judges have chosen Alexandra Plane for ‘Books that built a zoo’: her collection of works by Gerald Durrell. Alexandra is studying for an MA in Library And Information Studies at UCL.
The other finalists were:
- Imogen Grubin for her collection of early 20th-century editions of Victorian literature
- Blake Harrison who collects material on James Joyce’s Ulysses
- Jiayue Liu for a collection of early 20th-century English Private Press editions
- Naomi Oppenheim who collects editions produced by Black British publishers in the mid 20th century
- Bori Papp for her collection of Hungarian translations of English literature illustrated by the artist Piroska Szántó
- Kit Rooney for a collection of hand-written inscriptions in books.
See the finalists present their collections online
Join us for this summer’s UCL Rare-Books Club Online, every Tuesday lunchtime, to hear the winner and finalists discuss their collections and present some of their books, starting on 14 July with Alexandra Plane, introduced by Anthony Davis.
The judges included representatives of the UK’s Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, the UK’s Bibliographical Society, and Senate House Library who hosted the prize last year, as well as UCL Special Collections.
For the Special Collections team, it was also a great pleasure to collaborate this year with the founder of the prize, Anthony Davis, and to share his inspiring enthusiasm for books and collecting with the students. We hope many of them will continue to develop and cherish their collections long into the future.
By Paul Ayris, on 3 July 2020
UCL Library Committee
Library Committee met virtually on 25 June by Microsoft Teams. It was the probably the first time in the Committee’s long history that this distinguished body had not met physically in a committee room.
One of the items on the agenda was the termly Report from me as Pro-Vice Provost. The Report from the Pro-Vice-Provost can be seen behind the link. I used the usual structure, reporting against the 6 KPIs of the current Library Strategy, but I fashioned the narrative to reflect the extraordinary events that we have all been experiencing.
The coronavirus crisis led to lockdown in UCL Library Services, with closure of library sites beginning on 17
March. With senior colleagues we quickly agreed a set of themes which would underpin our work:
1. Electronic-led resource provision to support research and education
2. Digitally-delivered teaching and skills support
3. Fully digital enquiry services, which require a proper enquiry management platform
4. Open Science as the model for the future
5. Optimization of learning spaces
6. Research collection strategy in a digital era
These values continue to underpin our work as we develop our service provision to embrace the principle of digital-first in both research and education. It is the move fully to embed digital delivery in our education offering which is exciting, supported by £1.38 million of new money to purchase e-textbooks and to upscale our work on ReadingLists@UCL.
I would like to use this opportunity further to underline the Library’s commitment to supporting colleagues in #BlackLivesMatter. I am, as many of you probably know, a Tudor historian who publishes on sixteenth-century England. I wish here to put on record my repugnance at the views on race expressed this week by another Tudor historian, Dr David Starkey. Starkey’s views are repugnant to me and are completely at variance with UCL’s position.
In Newsletter 12, published today, our colleague Amad Uddin has told us about his team’s experiences in re-opening the Student Centre. He says: ‘I feel proud that Library Services have been involved in the first pilot [in re-opening UCL spaces] as it’s crucial we get back to some sense of normality. We are pioneers, what we learn from this pilot, the good and bad, will help other buildings open in the near future as restrictions get eased.’
Stay well, stay safe and I hope we will all be able to meet again in UCL in the coming weeks.
Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)
By Benjamin Meunier, on 26 June 2020
In case you missed it in our daily comms, please find below some additional guidance and support so that we can all help further race equality at UCL.
Supporting Black staff at work
The UCL Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team have produced guidance to line managers on supporting their Black staff. This is also a resource for colleagues, and we commend it for all Library Services staff to read and take action based on the guidance to create an environment which is more supportive of our Black staff and students.
There are many societal issues currently that may be impacting upon Black staff and their sense of wellbeing. These issues are not new, Black staff deal with them all the time, every day of their lives. However, there are a number of issues that have brought the presence of racism to the fore in recent weeks. The guidance references the work of sociologist Robin DiAngelo in her book “White Fragility”. To find out more, you could view this video of a reading of the book by the author, hosted by Seattle Central Library in 2018.
It is important at this time to check in with Black staff, ask how they are doing and offer them support. Having conversations about racism is everyone’s responsibility. For those who are unfamiliar with doing this, the guide may be of some help. This guide is only part of a range of resources and measures to support our Black staff at this time. It is not presented as a solution in its own right.
Free mental health therapy available for Black people in the UK
Black Minds Matter UK has announced they are providing Black people in the UK with free therapy with Black mental health professionals. Details are available at https://www.blackmindsmatteruk.com/
By Debbie Heatlie, on 23 June 2020
Images from the archives of Moorfields Eye Hospital, held in the Joint Library of Ophthalmology and an interview with the librarian, Debbie Heatlie, feature in a Nature article Ophthalmology in 2020 gaining sight for sore eyes. It is a fascinating read spanning 170 years of eye imaging to improve treatment, from artists’ detailed drawings, over a century ago, to 3D imaging and modelling, used by surgeons to plan operations today, looking forwards to the future of tele-ophthalmology and artificial intelligence.
The article came about because the NIHR Ophthalmology, based at Moorfields, does a great deal of outreach and publicity work to promote research funded by them to improve patient care and they know of our amazing archives.
By Benjamin Meunier, on 23 June 2020
The LIBER Architecture Group launched a new resource this week for librarians and architects around the world.
The Library Buildings in Europe website records examples of good and interesting library buildings throughout Europe; it is a benchmarking tool for all those involved in new or refurbished library building projects including librarians, architects or any other professionals.
The aim is to inspire and support anyone working on a library building project – a new building, an extension, a renovation, or a reworking of interior spaces. The wide variety of case studies will enable those involved in such projects to pick up on new trends, to share knowledge and experience, and to learn from, and make contact with, each other.
Buildings featured include the Student Centre and this year’s winner of the SCONUL Library Design Awards, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) Library.
By utnvrev, on 19 June 2020
As signalled in Ben’s Liblist message of 11th June 2020 we wanted to share a bit more detail about the work that has already happened in the area of ‘decolonising our collections’ and plans to develop and build on this work. There is a lot of activity in this area across the library and archives sector, many colleagues have attended events nationally related to this topic and there is a high level of interest and commitment to this area of work across the service.
Back in November 2019 a meeting was convened for all academic support staff interested or already engaged in themes around “decolonising” collections, at subject or site level, to consider the scope for activities in Library Services. The response was huge. We considered terminology and agreed we’d give this work the title of ‘Liberating the Collections’ so that it would complement the existing ‘Liberating the Curriculum’ work that UCL has undertaken. We also felt that the unintentional mis-use or misappropriation of the terms ‘decolonising’ or ‘decolonisation’ could be problematic.
Colleagues shared examples of work already being undertaken including:
Reclassification – recent projects
Tom Meehan (Head of Cataloguing & Metadata) spoke about a project initiated by Liz Lawes (Subject Liaison Librarian: Fine Art, History of Art, Film Studies, Small Press Collections) for the MX section of the ART collection, to change the classification of non-Western art from purely alphabetical-by-country to a logical arrangement using Garside’s standard geographical table. This followed on from a student enquiry and meant that African art in particular could be more effectively organised and less marginalised. The project involved mapping the former classmarks for 2000 items to new ones (in this case also recalculating Cutter numbers), making the changes to Alma holdings records, and physically relabelling and moving the books.
Wojciech Janik (Area Liaison Coordinator & Area Liaison Librarian for Russia, Ukraine, Belarus & Eurasia) shared details of similar reclassification work at SSEES library, undertaken to create new categories for materials from former Soviet republics which have been independent countries for almost 20 years. These had continued to be classified within the Russian collection which is politically problematic. There was a lot of interest in this work and it even resulted in a donation of books from the Georgian Ambassador.
Reading lists – modelling good practice
With planning for the new UCL East campus under way there is an objective to embed good ‘Liberating the Curriculum’ practice in new programmes from the outset. Hazel Ingrey (Head of Teaching & Learning Services) is working with academics to suggest inclusive, non-canon literature and viewpoints for the new reading lists that they will curate.
Change the Subject! – film screening at UCL
On 3 February 2020, Library Services co-sponsored the London premiere of this documentary, with UCL’s Department of Information Studies (DIS). The film narrates the story of a group of students at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, USA, who challenged anti-immigrant sentiment as represented by the Library of Congress subject headings in the Library catalogue, and specifically the term ‘illegal alien’, used by academic libraries globally.
Open to attendees across the library sector, the screening was followed by a panel discussion where UCL was represented by Tom Meehan. The film is temporarily available to view https://www.pbs.org/video/change-the-subject-23nbpj/
Steps to Progress – facilitating and hosting a student initiative
In late 2018 a PhD student from UCL’s English Department approached the Library with a project he was developing, with the support of the Vice Provost International and other senior officers, to install decals of book spines to the stair risers leading to the Main Library that challenged existing perceptions of the literary canon and celebrated the diversity of the UCL community. Supported and enabled in liaison with library colleagues, the project came to fruition in early June 2019 https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/libnet/2019/06/05/steps-to-progress-2/. It has received considerable attention and plaudits from both UCL and external visitors to the space.
Eugenics Inquiry – supported and informed by Library Services
In 2018, UCL’s President & Provost Professor Michael Arthur commissioned an ‘Inquiry into the History of Eugenics at UCL’, led by Professor Iyiola Solanke of the University of Leeds. Library Services supported the Inquiry through the Director of Operations acting as secretary, and Special Collections staff assisting with identification and provision of evidence drawn from the archives and records materials we hold. Learning and insight from this process has been shared with Library Services staff in the Peer Review https://www.ucl.ac.uk/libnet/news-social/peer-review/archive-2020/issue-168-02-march-2020 on 2 March 2020. The articles illustrate some of the discoveries made and implications for how our collections might be researched and presented in future.
Sustaining the Liberated Curriculum – Special Collections project
The Special Collections team have long been involved in Liberating the Curriculum work, the most recent example being a funded project to develop enhanced resources for archival handling and exploration to support teaching in the BA (Hons) Education Studies at the IOE. The focus of the project was the preservation and digitisation of historical materials used for teaching about groups whose experiences have often been marginalised in historical accounts of education – in this case girls and the science curriculum, multicultural and anti-racist education in the 1970s and 80s and disability and special educational needs (SEN). Although they can be accessed in person, the resources are now available to UCL students on Moodle and have been used to develop teaching and student research in these areas over the past 2 years.
Next steps: Liberating the Collections Steering Group
It was agreed that there is a lot more that we can do and that we needed to establish a group to plan and oversee strands of activity across Library Services, aligned to our Strategy, UCL’s Liberating the Curriculum initiative and with reference to best practice in the library sector.
The group will be meeting for the first time on the 15th July to agree terms of reference and decide the priorities for this work going forward. The group will report to the Collection Management Advisory Group (CMAG) and connect closely with the Library’s Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
It will be co-chaired by Rozz Evans (Head of Collection Strategy) and Kate Cheney (Head of Site Library Services and lead for the Staff Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Key Performance Area).
By Angela Young, on 17 June 2020
HEA Fellowship awards provide a great opportunity for anyone who wants to demonstrate their commitment to professionalism in supporting learning and teaching in higher education. The UCL Arena Open programme, which is free to UCL staff, provides a route to Higher Education Academy (HEA) / AdvanceHE fellowship and is open to all staff at UCL who teach or support students’ learning, regardless of role or job title, so it’s relevant to all sorts of roles within Library Services. In addition to gaining you post-nominals, the process of applying means you reflect on your teaching and learning support work and develop your skills, identify areas for your future development and enhance your support of students so contributing to the user experience.
UCL Arena are launching a brand new course that is being delivered online this summer, specifically to support Professional Services staff, including Library Services staff. This is a great opportunity for anyone thinking of applying for Associate Fellowship or Fellowship. Details of the course are below.
Contributed by Angela Young.
Professional Services Staff – Pathway to Arena Fellowships
Professional Services (PS) Staff make an important contribution to UCL’s mission, by providing training and support for learning. This course is a development pathway for PS Staff, leading (ideally) to the submission of an application for fellowship of the Higher Education Academy.
The course will enable you to think creatively about supporting teaching, learning, and assessment in your role. It will guide you in developing a fellowship application in a structured way over four synchronous, interactive sessions and through a variety of tasks. You will also have the opportunity to meet colleagues from different parts of UCL and to discuss how your experience maps to the UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF).
By the end of this course, you should be able to:
- identify ways in which your role and work experience supports high quality student learning and student outcomes
- reflect on your professional practice and consider the ways it impacts on the learning of others
- recognise the importance and value of your work and how it contributes to UCL’s operations and strategy
- understand what a good UCL Arena fellowship application looks like
- demonstrate how your experience and knowledge meet the relevant criteria of the UKPSF for the appropriate fellowship category
Dates/times of sessions:
- Session 1: Thursday, 9 July 2020 (14.00 – 15.30)
- Session 2: Tuesday, 21 July 2020 (14.00 – 15.30)
- Session 3: Thursday, 6 August 2020 (10.00 – 11.30)
- Session 4: Tuesday, 11 August 2020 (14.00 – 15.30) OR Wednesday, 16 September (11.00 – 12.30)
Who should apply:
This course is ideal for PS staff who have worked in higher education for at least two years and provide teaching and student support. It is most suitable for (but not restricted to) PS staff who work in programme/teaching administration, digital education, library services, teaching laboratories, and student wellbeing.
How to register:
Please complete this form by 5pm on Monday, 29 June, if you are interested in participating in this course:
We can only accept a maximum of 20 people for this course and will be confirming places on a “first come, first serve basis”. We will confirm your place on the course by 6 July 2020.
Please be aware that there will be a little bit of preparation to do before the first session and ‘homework’ to do between each session. We’ll be targeting Associate Fellow applications, but with scope for Fellow application development if participants have the appropriate experience.
By Benjamin Meunier, on 11 June 2020
In case you missed it in our daily comms, please find below some information on race equality at UCL, with a message from Jennifer Brown as Chair of the Library’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee, as well as some highlights on work which has been underway in Library Services to decolonise our collections and support UCL’s investigations into the university’s role in the history of eugenics. You can also find some training resources recommended by UCL EDI and Library SMT colleagues, to complement the resources which Andy Pow shared via liblist last Friday.
Race Equality at UCL
In the Provost’s View earlier in the week, the Provost reflected on the appalling killing of George Floyd and acknowledged the devastating and distressing impact this continues to have on our Black staff and students. The Provost also accepted that the statement UCL made last week was not specific enough about the impact on Black students and staff and apologised for the stress and hurt caused to Black students and staff.
As mentioned by the Provost, we need to go beyond expressions of solidarity and look at what further practical steps we can take to address racism close to home. UCL has taken practical action on structural racism at UCL under the current Provost. UCL Library Services is part of this action, with one of our six Key Performance Areas in the Library Strategy dedicated to Staffing, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and we will share more about the Library’s work in this area. We fully agree with the Provost that more must be done and that we must accept responsibility for more rapid progress.
UCL is seeking to consult with Black staff and students via a town hall style meeting in the near future, in order to listen more, learn, and decide what additional action we should be taking as a university. If you would like to register your interest in receiving details of this event, you can do so using this online form.
A message from Jennifer Brown, Chair of the Library Services Equality, Diversity and Inclusion committee
I have reflected deeply upon the brutal murder of George Floyd and being told that BME people are more prone to dying from the Coronavirus coupled with the fact that there was insufficient investigation as to why this is the case.
To say that the past few weeks have been distressing is an understatement. For many it has been an eye opener but for others it is a reality that they have had to live most if not all of their lives. I have been engaging in lots of discussions externally around what is occurring and what needs to happen.
As a woman of African Caribbean heritage I have faced the experiences, the frustration, the hurt plus more that many are now feeling more liberated to speak about.
As the chair of the Library Service Equality Diversity and Inclusion committee I am committed to tackling any practices which cause BME people to face inequality. Not just within Library Services but throughout the UCL community which I have already been doing. This might mean that at times some uncomfortable and frank discussions might need to be had but this is a way forward to tackling some of the inequalities being faced.
I would like to cultivate a culture of solution so if you have any suggestions that you would like to be considered confidentially please feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org or the Library DEOLOs (email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org). Anonymised suggestions will be discussed at forthcoming EDI meetings and shared with the Library SMT for further consideration and action as appropriate.
The change required is not about tokenism, we all need to work together to cultivate more positive experiences and meaningful outcomes.
Back in November a meeting of staff interested and engaged in themes around “decolonising” collections considered the scope for activities in Library Services. Colleagues shared examples of work already being undertaken at this forum. To take this forward a Liberating the Collections Steering Group will oversee strands of activity across Library Services, aligned to UCL Library Services Strategy, UCL’s Liberating the Curriculum initiative, UCL’s wider EDI activity and with reference to best practice in the library sector. A more detailed blog post will be published next week.
Inquiry into the history of eugenics
In March, shortly before lockdown, the Peer Review dedicated an edition to the outcomes of the Inquiry into the history of eugenics at UCL. The independent Chair of the Inquiry, Professor Iyiola Solanke, outlined why she agreed to lead the Inquiry for UCL and how it relates to social justice. Maria Kiladi shared an article on what our archives tell us about the history of eugenics at UCL.
Many colleagues from Library Services directly supported the Inquiry, particularly Katy Makin and Colin Penman from Special Collections. The Inquiry itself forms part of the wider work which UCL is doing to further race equality.
The Inquiry report and recommendations, as well as videos of the Town Hall meetings, are available on the Inquiry webpages.
EDI training available
UCL Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) are working in partnership with colleagues from the Race Equality Steering Group on a number of institutional actions. In the meantime, Fiona McClement (Head of EDI) would encourage people who are looking to take action on a personal level to sign up to one or more of these webinars: https://pearnkandola.com/events/. Pearn Kandola tend to deliver really good, thoughtful training and their new series of racism at work will be in the context of current times.
The EDI team does not believe there is a limit on numbers who can sign up but if you do have any problems, please let me know and EDI have offered to look to organise some sessions specifically for UCL.
By Bethan Smith, on 10 June 2020
I am pleased to announce that Library Services has procured a service-wide licence for LibAnswers, an enquiry management system that will vastly improve our capabilities for handling customer enquiries. This is a fantastic piece of news, providing an important step in achieving a number of our goals in the Library Services Strategy.
A number of staff may already be familiar with the software, including colleagues at the IOE. For those not familiar, LibAnswers is an enquiry management system designed specifically for libraries, which will enable us to improve the service we provide when managing the enquiries we receive on a daily basis.
It will allow us to filter and refer queries to other teams more easily, provide an FAQ database to assist our customers with everyday queries, and statistically examine the types and volumes of enquiries we receive. In the long term, it will hopefully integrate with other Springshare products we have recently invested in, such as LibGuides.
This information, in particular the methodical collection of customer feedback, will play a vital role in helping us to help us to target service improvements in the future and to monitor and plan for our peak times.
As part of this new software launch, we are also aiming to make use of the LibChat chat service available within LibAnswers. We are hoping to have this in place relatively soon to allow customers to interact with us in real time – an important feature as we continue to work remotely as part of the gradual, phased return to campus.
The aim is to have a working platform in place for the new term, with additional elements rolled out in stages. The scope of this initial launch will be limited to a few selected services, including library@ucl. Other teams and site libraries will be added to the platform in a gradual, phased approach throughout 2020/2021.
This will be an ongoing process and if you are considered for involvement in the soft launch of the system you will receive notification from your line manager soon. You may also receive some automated emails in the coming weeks as we gradually set up colleagues on the system.
Progress on this project, both in terms of its technical setup and the wider implications for Library Services, will be overseen and managed by a dedicated project board. Comprehensive training, documents and testing slots will also be set up in order to ensure that staff are well prepared and feel confident working with the software before go-live.
This is an exciting opportunity for Library Services to make our customer service provision more extensive, comprehensive and proficient. We will provide further updates on this project as we configure our LibAnswers platform.