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Doing Outreach: ‘Telling Tales of Independence’ at the Bloomsbury Festival

SallyPerry23 January 2018

Photography: Christian Fisher, Bloomsbury Festival 2017

To some ‘Doing Outreach’ might sound more like a points-winner in Strictly Come Dancing than a legitimate pursuit for an academic institution, yet it is not only legitimate but essential to what we do. Outreach is the means by which we share with our community and the wider world what we teach, what we research and, of particular relevance to us in UCL Library Services, the treasures we care for.  It is relevant to everyone, regardless of their role in the university, as it not only demonstrates our value but also gives us the opportunity to bring together people who previously shared nothing but curiosity, but might go on to solve problems and create new knowledge.

So for anyone who has ever considered putting a toe in the Outreach water but has yet to go further, here is a brief insider view of a recent event.

The Bloomsbury Festival is an annual enterprise:

“a five-day celebration of the area’s pioneering creativity. Presenting an inspiring programme of arts, science, literature, performance, discussion and reflection, each October the Festival shines a light on the radical imaginations, institutions, and 11,000 residents that shape contemporary Bloomsbury.”

UCL has supported the Festival since it began in 2006, and for the second time was the Saturday Hub, bringing together most of the festival events for that day on the main UCL campus. The stalls were a mixture of UCL research-focused presentations and outside businesses, with street food, music and dance provided by the Festival organisers. Traditionally the Festival has a theme – a broad concept such as ‘Light’ or ‘Language’ or (for this year) ‘Independence’. This gives a useful focus for planning an event, but is sufficiently flexible to encompass many interpretations.

Like many outreach projects, our event (Telling Tales of Independence) developed somewhat organically and we finally focused on aspects of the personal independence made possible through reading, creativity and performance. Sam Duncan, IOE Senior Lecturer in Adult Education and Literacies, discussed her Reading Aloud in Britain Today research with visitors, and invited them to contribute to her data collection by completing surveys or signing up for interviews. Theo Bryer, (Lecturer in IOE’s Culture, Communication and Media Department) and Rebecca Wilson (IOE ICT Teaching Support Analyst), both recently returned from introducing ‘agile film making’ with iPads in a variety of schools in India, presented some of the films and a poster explaining the project.  For younger visitors, performer Laura Mitchison (of community interest company On the Record) read aloud from story books from the IOE Curriculum Resources Collection, and children (and in more than a few cases grownups) were able to explore their creativity by making puppets and designing for them superpowers or award-winning talents.

The weather, a crucial factor in outreach endeavours such as the Bloomsbury Festival, was not kind and led to last minute changes in the positioning of stalls and performances. Even so 3790 visitors came through the Gower Street gates of the UCL campus, and another 1242 came to the Institute of Making. There were 30 stalls set up in and around the North and South Cloisters, and 26 performances took place during the day.

So what did we learn about Doing Outreach from our Telling Tales of Independence experience? Here are a few of the many lessons:

  1. Prepare to be flexible. One of the excitements (and challenges) of one-off outreach events such as Telling Tales of Independence is the unknown. You have to be prepared to throw your best-laid plans to the wind, and do what works when circumstances dictate. Our planned story times, for example became ‘stories on demand’ when we realized that arrangement was more suited to the flow of visitors.
  2. Being part of a large mixed event rather than an individual one might take you out of your comfort zone if you like familiar surroundings and control over arrangements, but it will bring in more visitors, have wider reach, and enable you to meet fellow ‘outreachers’.
  3. 11am to 5pm feels a lot more than 6 hours when you are presenting an outreach event. Arrange for reinforcements for the later part of the day if possible.

And what did we feel we achieved? Well based on the conversations held, the surveys completed, the puppets created and the stories enjoyed, it seemed visitors appreciated and engaged. We hope they left with a better understanding of what UCL is about and enthusiasm for the possibilities presented. Introductions were made – with UCL colleagues, with visitors, with perhaps potential students – that might one day lead to something that would not have happened if we had not ‘outreached’. So on reflection, a worthwhile day’s work.

Special Collections at Newham Heritage Week

Helen FBiggs20 October 2017

Newham Heritage Week, which runs from 21-29 October, will see the launch of a new pop-up exhibition, Making East London, created as a collaboration between UCL Special Collections and Newham Libraries.

Five banner displays combine items from the Main Library exhibition East Side Stories and Newham Borough’s own archives, to explore two centuries of continuous change in east London.

The exhibition is open now in Stratford Library. From January it will be on tour, visiting the other nine public libraries in Newham.

East London history “open mic” night

As part of Newham Heritage Week, Special Collections’ outreach team are hosting an open mic-style night at Stratford Library, from 6pm on Thursday 26 October. A 30-minute talk on the work behind Making East London will be followed by an opportunity for attendees to share their own research, stories and memories of East London’s past.

For more information, or to book your own space at the talk, get in touch with Vicky at vprice@ucl.ac.uk.

You can learn more about what Special Collections has been doing with Newham Libraries (including poetry sessions and an oral history initiative) and our funders for this project, over at our blog.

To discover what else is happening at Newham Heritage Week, download a programme.

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Taking Stock

Helen FBiggs11 August 2017

Posted on behalf of Vicky Price, Special Collections Education Coordinator.

With most people in summer holiday mode, it has been a quiet few weeks for myself and Helen at SCAR but we’ve managed to keep ourselves busy: collecting statistics, tying up loose ends from past projects and putting plans in place for next year.

As I’ve also been  taking stock of where we are with the Outreach Programme and where we want to get to in the forthcoming year, I thought it would be a good time to give an update on where we’re headed, and share some of the programme’s highlights.  If you attended the session Sarah Aitchison and I gave at July’s Library Conference, you’ll already know about some of our plans. But for those of you to whom SCAR’s outreach work is still shrouded in mystery … let me elucidate!

Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate
We’ve been building strong relationships with some exciting partners.  As a result, larger, more ambitious projects are on the horizon (and growing steadily closer):

Pupils, parents and teachers added their memories on leaves.

Pupils, parents and teachers added their memories on leaves.

Edith Neville Primary School and Museum of London Archaeology
We are creating a special year-long project to create a time capsule to be buried on the school’s brand new site.  The photographs below shows a ‘memory tree’ that some of the school’s parents made (thank you Maryam and Joygun!) so that parents, staff and pupils could start to collate favourite memories of their current school building at their summer fair.

IMG_4054

Maryam adds her memories to the tree.

Newham Library and Archives
We are creating a special mobile exhibition that will tour all 10 of the borough’s public libraries, and we’ll be delivering a programme of family and specialist group workshops alongside.  What is most exciting is that the exhibition will marry items featured in the Main Library exhibition East Side Stories: Londoners in transition with Newham Archive items to create one narrative. We’ll also be collecting local people’s oral histories at the workshops (accessioned and made publicly available through UCL SCAR).

Camden Adult Education

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We even used some metallic gold leaf in our work.

We have run several art workshops for a group of adults who meet to colour in while combating social isolation and loneliness (with colouring in sheets derived from our collection of manuscripts!).  Next up for next year are colouring in activities using wood block prints from some of our early rare books. Just one step closer to kickstarting the all-SCAR colouring in book of my dreams…

Colouring in images from UCL SCAR's manuscript collection.

Colouring in images from UCL SCAR’s manuscript collection.

Schools
We are also developing a ‘Spotlight on…’ series for Secondary schools: finding collection items that relate to curriculum subject areas to develop deeper knowledge and contextual understanding.  First on the list are Dickens’ London and Shakespeare in theatres of the time.

Systems, Processes and Training
We’ve taken the time to refashion some procedures, and will have a new, easier system for all of Library Services to report their outreach statistics (lead by Bernard Scaife).  We will send around a spreadsheet once a term that will just require some simple information inputting before sending it back – hopefully the annual statistics-fest (as I hopefully call it) will be a lot smoother this time next year!

It has also been a pleasure to deliver some bitesize training within UCL Library Services on various aspects of delivering outreach. I hope to continue and develop this next year, starting with tours of SCAR and the spaces we use on campus… so keep your eyes peeled for an invitation if you’re interested!

We can’t wait for next year and all the projects it will bring.  I’ll be sure to share stories, photographs and outcomes from workshops like ‘Mystery Archives’ with 5 to 11 year olds or ‘Local Heroes Top Trumps’ with families when I can!

July titles from UCL Press

AlisonFox10 July 2017

We are delighted to announce the publication of 3 new open access books from UCL Press.

New Books (July)

Please don’t hesitate to contact the UCL Press team with any questions or queries about UCL press or any of our titles.

April to June titles from UCL Press

AlisonFox7 June 2017

We are delighted to announce the publication of 9 new open access books and 5 open access journal issues from UCL Press. Additionally, we are also delighted to provide information about a brand new student journal, Interscript, hosted on UCL’s student publishing platform.

New Books (April-June)

New Journals (April-June)

Student Journals Hosted by UCL Press (April-June)

  • Interscript: UCL Journal of Publishing (vol 1, issue 1). This journal is run by students of the MA publishing course, and hosted on UCL’s OJS platform. The students have also published an online magazine.

Please don’t hesitate to contact the UCL Press team with any questions or queries about UCL press or any of our titles.

Screening of The White Helmets & panel discussion

Kieron LJones24 May 2017

WhiteHelmetsYou are hereby cordially invited to the following event, organised by Library Services and UCL’s Refuge in a Moving World Network:

Thursday 1st June 2017, 17:00-18:15
Archaeology G6 Lecture Theatre

Synopsis: A Netflix original short documentary, set in Aleppo, Syria and Turkey in early 2016. As the violence intensifies, The White Helmets follows three volunteer rescue workers as they put everything on the line to save civilians affected by the war, all the while wracked with worry about the safety of their own loved ones. Moving and inspiring, The White Helmets (winner of the 2017 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short) is both a snapshot of the harrowing realities of life for ordinary Syrians who remain in the country, and a humbling portrait of the power of the human spirit.

After the screening, a multidisciplinary panel discussion will reflect upon the issues raised, future of the region and human rights abuses within countries following the onset of civil war.

The event is free but you do have to book a seat.

 

OPERAS survey on usage of open scholarly communication in Europe

AlisonFox9 May 2017

The OPERAS consortium is launching a survey on the usage of open scholarly communication in Europe, in particular in the field of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). The purpose of the survey is to identify current practices and services that should be developed or invented. It will serve as a basis for defining the future infrastructure of OPERAS.
The survey is aimed at  5 different audiences, all of whom are impacted by open access: publishers, researchers, libraries, funders and the general public. It will primarily collect information and suggestions  about common standards, good practices, new features and new integrated services.

Your participation would be welcomed- the links below are open until the 31 May 2017.

publishers : https://survey.openedition.org/index.php/468227
libraries : https://survey.openedition.org/index.php/212534
researchers : https://survey.openedition.org/index.php/831687
funders: https://survey.openedition.org/index.php/578782
general public : https://survey.openedition.org/index.php/214336

Rare editions of Dante from UCL Special Collections on display

Helen FBiggs20 March 2017

Rare editions of Dante from UCL Special Collections

Monday 27 March 5.30pm

The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, WC1H 0AB

Admission free.

dante

Image from an 1869 edition of La Divina Commedia with illustrations by Gustavo Dore [DANTE FOLIOS DD119 (1869) vol. 1]

There will be an opportunity to see some of UCL’s rare editions of Dante’s works, and hear the Rare-Books Librarian talk about the history of the poet’s work in print, on Monday 27 March, 5.30-6.30pm, in the Common Room of the Warburg Institute in Woburn Square (immediately south of Gordon Square). The event will continue 6.30-7.45pm in the Institute’s Lecture Room with readings from the text and discussions from UCL’s Professor John Took and the Warburg’s Dr. Alessandro Scafi.

Want to know more about who Dante was and why his writings are important for us today? Try the weekly Dante readings on Monday evenings at the Warburg Institute or fortnightly talks on Tuesday evenings at the Italian Cultural Institute. The readings on Monday 27th will feature the moving passage in which Dante and Virgil emerge from the abyss of Hell on the shore of Mount Purgatory, leaving you, we hope, in an improved mood for the holidays, albeit on a cliff-hanger until readings recommence next term. The Tuesday talk on the 28th will be on the relation between Dante, Classical mythology and Islam.

Best wishes from the UCL Special Collections Team, UCL Italian and The Warburg Institute.

Text courtesy Tabitha Tuckett.

UCL Press wins UCL Brand Ambassador award

AlisonFox16 February 2017

 

UCL Press was thrilled to win the UCL Brand Ambassador award at the UCL professional services awards yesterday. The award was made for the global reach UCL Press’s books and journals have achieved, with download figures now close to 200,000 in over 200 countries since its launch in June 2015.

When UCL Press launched, it was the first university press to set up from scratch with an Open Access model. As such, it was a brave step, and since such a venture had never been attempted before in the UK, it was hard to predict the outcome. The idea for the Press was that of Dr Paul Ayris, Pro Vice Provost, UCL Library Services, a leader in OA advocacy for many years, and the Press was the flagship addition to strong OA services and policies already established at UCL.

From the outset, the reaction at UCL to the Press has been unfailingly positive: authors have submitted proposals in the hundreds, many of them already committed Open Access advocates with few other OA options for publishing their monographs. For those early adopters, and for the Senior Management team at UCL who supported the setting up of the Press, their belief is now paying dividends, as research published by UCL Press reaches a huge global audience. Many of those reading UCL Press’s books would not be able to access a print version, either because they would be unaffordable to individuals or to local universities, or simply because print book distribution to many countries around the world is severely limited or indeed non-existent.

UCL is committed to being a force for good and enlightenment in the world, and ensuring that the products of its research are made as widely available as possible helps to support that commitment. UCL Press is excited to be contributing to the institution’s global presence, and proud that its books and authors are acting as UCL Brand Ambassadors worldwide.

I would personally like to thank the whole UCL Press team, our wonderful authors, David Price, Paul Ayris and Martin Moyle for their unfailing support and encouragement, our colleagues in Library Services, and our colleagues around UCL who support us – all of them make this happen.

Posted on behalf of Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager, UCL Press

Weekly Dante readings begin today – Mondays 6pm

TabithaTuckett30 January 2017

Readings from Dante’s Divine Comedy in English and Italian

Mondays 6-7.30pm, The Warburg Institute, Woburn Square

(Admission free)

Is a passage from Dante’s Inferno just what you feel like after a day’s work on a Monday? Or have you always wanted to know what all the fuss was about? Today you can find out, for free, at 6pm at the Warburg Institute off Gordon Square/Woburn Square with an introduction to Dante’s life and works, followed by readings on subsequent Mondays.

The annual collaboration between UCL Special Collections, the UCL Italian Department, the Warburg Institute and the Italian Cultural Institute has proved popular enough to resume this year, with a slightly different selection of passages and the chance, later in the term, to view some of the treasures from UCL Special Collections’ outstanding early and rare editions of Dante.

If Mondays aren’t a good time for you, try the themed Dante sessions on alternate Tuesdays at the Italian Cultural Institute in Belgravia. The next is tomorrow, 7-8.30pm.

Passages will be read in both English and Italian and illustrated, together with talks from UCL’s Dante Professor, John Took, on what to look out for in the excerpts. You never know: you could feel inspired, as this former member of the audience was, to cook the entire poem in biscuit form:

Dante & Virgil with sins

Dante’s Divine Comedy in edible form, created by audience member Leon Conrad.

Photo copyright David Ward.