Librarian’s planning meeting – day 1

Today was the first day of the planning meeting of the SCONUL (the library equivalent of UCISA) Executive Board’s planning meeting. A brief summary of the meeting so far – I’ll blog something more detailed later.

Three quick points from the Group reports:
• Information/digital literacy is still an issue; there is a particular need to engage the research community in improving their skills in this area;
• There are some interesting challenges in identifying how Libraries can demonstrate the contribution they make to the student experience. Something we share in the IT community;
• Developing new learning spaces seems to be something most institutions are doing but not necessarily with the backing of a sound business case.

Norman Wiseman reported on JISC activities, many of which I expect will be picked up at UCISA’s Executive meeting in September. Of particular interest was the development of JISC’s strategy (latest draft out early August) and a shift in focus towards identifying ways that institutions can save money e.g. through shared services and more sustainable ICT. Norman also suggested that JISC would become more authoritative – I believe this is as a direct result of UCISA lobbying for JISC to promote federated access given that they were in a position of influence, even if it was not in a position to dictate to the sector. Given the likelihood of funding restraints the service portfolio will need to demonstrate that it is innovative, continues to be in demand and is sustainable.

There was some discussion on ‘superconvergence’ – the trend towards bigger service departments either concentrating on the student experience or encompassing all administrative services. There are a number of issues the library sector is concerned about in this area, many of which will be shared by their IT counterparts. There is certainly scope for discussion between UCISA and SCONUL on this, and probably with other similar associations.

Finally we had a quick overview of the study into the feasibility of sharing library management systems. The study exceeded its brief but managed to identify a number of areas within library operations where there is scope for developing shared services. The model presented seemed appropriate but it remains to be seen whether it can be translated into a full business case.

A number of interesting themes emerged and some points that I’ll take back to UCISA meetings. It will be interesting to see how these are pulled together in the second half of the meeting tomorrow.

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