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Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

By Paul Ayris, on 7 July 2018

LIBER Conference 2018 (Association of European Research Libraries)

4-6 July saw the 47th LIBER Annual Conference take place in Lille. The theme of the meeting was Research Libraries as an Open Science Hub: from Strategy to Action.

The venue for the Conference was the LILLIAD, the Learning Centre for Innovation at the University of Lille. With easy metro links from the centre of Lille and Lille Europe, which is serviced by Eurostar, Lille is one of the easiest cities to reach from London on the continent of Europe.

The theme of the meeting, attended by 430 delegates from across Europe, was centred on turning Open Science theory into practice. The meeting started with a speech by Professor Dr Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation in France. The Minister launched A National Open Science Plan for France at the meeting – a great coup to have European libraries host such a prestigious launch.

I was joint author of a paper at the Conference, along with our UCL Press European representative, Dr Tiberius Ignat, on the cultural change needed in universities and by Society to embrace the changes that Open Science brings. The photo to the left shows our audience (including 2 members of UCL Library Services) assemble in sweltering (!) heat to listen to the paper, which we intend to publish in the coming months. This is important because attendance at the LIBER Conference each year forms one of my 3 training activities required by the UCL Appraisal process. To this requirement, I personally add into my Appraisal objectives that I speak at one international meeting each year, where the written text of the presentation is peer reviewed and published in Open Access.

The Conference was full of discussion about the role of libraries in offering a leadership role in introducing Open Science practices into universities. There were also many practical examples to offer Best Practice. One excellent example came from the libraries of Catalonia, presented by Anna Rovira and Dr Ignasi Labastida from Barcelona. The Catalans have developed a collaborative model for measuring levels of compliance with Open Access by academics, allowing benchmarking across Catalonia.

But back to the LILLIAD. The recent merger of 3 universities in Lille has created a wonderful opportunity for the University Librarian of the merged libraries, Julien Roche, to create a blueprint for what the 21st century library looks like. A central theme is one of Innovation. The picture to the left shows a typical set of learning spaces in this impressive building. In many ways, it mirrors what the learning spaces in the UCL Student Centre, to be run by the Library from the New Year, will look like. But UCL has gone one step further than Lille. The LILLIAD houses paper collections, largely in science and technology, but the Student Centre in UCL will be a 100% digital learning experience, open 24 hours a day.

I have returned from the 47th LIBER Conference full of optimism about the leading role that libraries can play in the Open Science agenda. UCL Library Services is already seen as a European leader in this space, and this activity will develop further as we adopt a new Library Strategy. It is an exciting time to be leading such a monumental change in European universities.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

 

 

 

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