Presentation on theme: "Big Society and Library closures – is there a place for Monograph Management in the new landscape of public libraries? David Ruse Director of Libraries."— Presentation transcript:
Big Society and Library closures – is there a place for Monograph Management in the new landscape of public libraries? David Ruse Director of Libraries and Culture, Westminster City Council
Collections in Public libraries 99 million books and 4,600 public libraries Public libraries are not research institutions Collections from former collaborative subject specialisation schemes, or of significance to local area Some (Birmingham, City of London and Westminster) designated as of national significance by the MLA. Designation identifies and celebrates pre-eminent collections of national and international importance in non-national institutions. There are over 130 designated collections in England alone. These world class collections are a lasting source of inspiration and enjoyment for generations of users and the Designation scheme exists to promote and increase access to them for all. ACE is going to continue this Designation scheme after MLA. Regional Reference Libraries – (COCRIL) used by a much wider group than just local residents, but not funded for such use
Role and funding of public libraries Public libraries are funded by local authorities Their role has changed – no defined standards, no real mandate for special collections Books are still at the heart of the service Connecting the books and information content with users, readers, customers and communities. Funding increasingly squeezed, affecting both premises and stock purchasing Reduced opening hours, closures, cuts to stock budgets, and pressure to eliminate unnecessary storage costs The days of single authorities hosting and developing major special collections of monograph material are numbered – costs of development, maintenance and storage all fall to one authority when resource may not be used by that authoritys residents. We dont have a captive audience – we have to make our customers aware of what we have and animate the collections for them
Sustaining your collections? – yes, in those areas where we have particular and recognised research strengths - Guildhall Library is MLA designated for its history of London holdings, and we do continue to acquire material in that field. Likewise, Barbican Library continues to develop its music collections. We are going to have to cut the bookfund next year but we would hope not to lose capacity altogether. – Were not sustaining monograph research collections, (except in Local and Family History Library where we still buy monographs ). There is a paper reference collection only in the Central Library, not in community libraries. We get far fewer research-type enquiries than we used to. (Leeds) – Yes, but through management of existing stocks. By that I mean that all new stock is bought for public access (except for some rare local material) and if possible and suitable (content and condition) it is added to stack based research collections at the end of its open access life. (Newcastle) – Yes, but we are trying to make them more of a working collection by using it as inspiration for exhibitions, talks and events, and relating it to contemporary issues. (Westminster) – As always its complicated, so the answer is yes and no! We are prioritising special collections where we are either the main or only collector (Birmingham Collection basically) or where we have significant strengths already (eg Early & Fine Printing, Shakespeare, Children's books). In other areas we are still buying, but at much lower levels (both numbers and research levels) than in the past as bookfunds have reduced.
Westminsters Art and Design collection Designated because of its centrality to the study of the decorative and fine arts both nationally and internationally. Over 40,000 volumes, covering painting, drawing, antiques, installations, fashion, furniture, architecture, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, jewellery, graphics, gardens, and interiors. It also houses a wide range of art magazines including cutting edge titles such as Wallpaper, Flash Art, I-D, Artforum and Blueprint as well as long backfiles of Apollo, Burlington, Country Life and Vogue Housed in the West End close to theatreland and filmland, and the major public and private art galleries and auction houses. Weve worked with local businesses and our Councils economic development team to relate our service to the economic development of the cultural and creative industries in the heart of London. This makes the service and the collection more relevant.
What about collaboration? Library and Information Plans from the 90s? Collaboration with universities or other holders of research collections in your area? – No, not in any formal sense....I have taken a few informal soundings to see whether some more formal kind of collaboration would be of interest to neighbouring universities but it never gets very far. – There is a joint scheme with Leeds Met whereby our members can use some of their resources, but it hasnt been extensively taken up – Yes, but more around rare books/local studies, and this isnt as advanced as it could be. We did liaise closely with the universities over periodical runs when we were weeding stock for the move to the new City Library. – There is, in particular around Shakespeare and the other significant collections in the area, but this is more patchy than comprehensive.
Is there merit in a more collaborative approach to collection management? In principle, yes, it has to make sense, but...difficult to move from light touch to more deep and serious collaboration. Different institutional priorities always get in the way.... different approaches to stock, but where pub libs have collections of research value there's really no difference as regards the philosophy behind permanent retention. Well investigate co-operation more fully in the review of our information services. The only thing is the different ethos - Universities have a captive audience and very much match collections to curriculum needs. We are basing the buying of our online resources on what is well used and most useful to answer enquiries overall. There is also the issue of licensing – publishers would need to be more flexible about that Yes Potentially, if it will bring benefits to the institution and the City as well as in the regional and national contexts
How best would this be done? Local agreements and collaborative frameworks have a long history and they usually fall apart over time. Opportunities for a collaborative approach are theoretically much greater in an electronic environment. A more joined up framework for metadata - ie one big catalogue where you can find out about everybody's holdings, simply - and I know that OCLC are working on that. For research-level collections, COPAC is a much valued resource for the UK community. A number of collections from non-HE libraries (including Guildhall) were added to that a few years ago, and perhaps there is merit in extending that? At national level for any licensing issues. Needs exploring more at the present time because of cutbacks Perhaps a light touch national framework and a more local regional push in line with that national framework/agreed standards? As it all gets more digital, the importance of physical holdings in order to get access to texts will decline. In that world, the emphasis on physical stock will switch more and more to special collections/research material which is genuinely unique. When weeding out monographs in a UKRR-sense we should remember that their research value may lie not just with their texts, but also with copy-specific aspects like marginalia, bindings, physical features, etc. Not sure, but would need to be light touch and not a drain on scarce specialist staff resources
Facing the real challenge of (Digital) Libraries (with thanks to Derek Law) – Have we forgotten how to curate? – Are we using digital new media to engage researchers and customers in the value of these monograph collections – Or are we going to hang on to traditions of competence, classification and access? – Do we accept that born digital material and retro- digi projects will contain the answer to everything?
So whats to be done? Any learning from museums sector? Mapping what there is – locally/regionally – re-invent LIPs? Consolidating collections Look at shared storage (and access) Think hard about promotion and animation Collaborate with us!