Wednesday 12 August 2015

Visit to the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory Library, 9th July 2015

On Thursday 9th July CILIP TV were lucky enough to visit the library at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) in Oxfordshire. The Lab itself is on the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus, run by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC). The library caters for staff of the RAL and Diamond Light Source, as well as a huge range of external visitors. We visited at a time when the whole campus was holding an open day, which meant that we had an opportunity to see a range of different workspaces, which was really interesting.

Linda Gilbert, the Site Librarian, met us and took us to the library for a presentation and discussion with the staff. The library is staffed by Linda and three Assistant Librarians, all of whom have different roles, covering the traditional sphere of acquisitions, resource description, membership and enquiries, while also supporting users with more recent developments in open access and institutional repositories and offering training sessions and tutorials on relevant resources. The library staff manage the development and content of STFC’s institutional repository, ePubs, and spend a lot of time working with Open Access publishing, helping STFC’s publishing authors adhere to RLUK (Research Libraries UK) guidelines. This involves helping them through every step, including producing a cover sheet and paying for Gold open access for STFC staff. ePubs went live in 2004 and currently has around 40,000 records which are updated regularly. It was interesting to hear how the library staff keep track of publications from STFC authors by setting up alerts in WoS (World of Science) and then uploading the records using articles’ DOIs.

Although the library does buy physical books, a lot of their budget is spent on e-journals, which are made available to staff of the RAL via their integrated catalogue, LibrarySearch. They also offer completely free inter library loans of non-stock material, which, to those of us who work in academic libraries, seemed very generous!

Once we had learned about the work that the RAL library staff do, we went on a tour of the site. The library itself was refurbished last year and is lovely and light, containing a study pod where people can hold meetings and talk on Skype. There is also a comfy seating area with a fiction book swap where site staff can sit at lunch time (drinks and food allowed!). While the library is staffed between 10am and 4pm, it is actually open 24hrs and users can borrow via a self-service machine.

After an excellent visit to the library and chat with the staff, we had a tour of the rest of the site and saw some of the research that takes place. It was a fantastic afternoon and incredibly interesting to see the work that goes on at the RAL. Thank you very much to Linda and her team for making the visit so enjoyable.

Becci Hutchins, Web & Social Media Officer. 

Sunday 9 August 2015

Visit to Oxford College Libraries, 20th July 2015

On 20th July, CILIP TV ran a visit with CILIP Library and Information History Group (@CILIP_LIHG) to see a choice of Oxford College libraries. Alefiyah Oakford has kindly written an excellent summary of the afternoon with fab photos by Tasneem Hassanali:

Our tour of the Oxford Libraries took place on a warm, sunny Monday afternoon. There was a good turnout which included many budding photographers!
We had a choice of attending Queen’s College Library or Merton College Library for the first part of the tour.  I decided to choose Queen’s College Library as I thought it would be interesting to see and find out more about the recent refurbishments.
Queen’s College Library
Queen’s College Library is often described as ‘one of the most beautiful Baroque buildings in Oxford’* and we certainly were not disappointed on our tour of the Upper Library which was built between 1692-1695.  The refurbishment project took place between 2013-2014, not only was this essential to preserve the historic aspects of the building and its contents but also to improve conditions for the library’s users.
The ceiling plasterwork in the library was amazing.  We learnt how during its refurbishment a birdcage scaffold was erected so it could be intricately cleaned.  UV filtering blinds were installed to protect from light damage and, to modernise the library, new wiring, lighting, heating and ventilation was installed. 
We also had the opportunity to view the impressive statute of Queen Philippa (the College founderess) and the globe set, which was refurbished in 2002, with globe cases created in 2007 to help conserve the globes, as well as the beautiful English Orrery which reproduces the movements of the planets. 

                                         Queen's College Library, photo courtesy of Tasneem Hassanali

Magdalen College Library
The next part of the tour took us to the Old Library at Magdalen College which was built with the College in the 1470s.  The tour covered the history of the library and gifts bequeathed to the library.  We were guided around various exhibitions that aimed to examine the libraries of a range of people and what their bequeathed books tell us about them and about society at that time.   
The impressive exhibitions included that of William Waynflete (founder of Magdalen College), Thomas à Becket, John Fitzwilliam, Thomas Wolsey and Olga and Jack Levinson – to name but a few!        
Perhaps one of the most exciting items we were shown were fragments of possibly the earliest known New Testament (possibly the oldest book!) which had been found in Egypt and sent back to the library.
We also had the chance to visit the atmospheric Magdalen College Chapel and viewed  a copy of ‘The Last Supper’ painting which is believed to be painted by Giovan Pietro Rizzoli known as Giampietrino, a pupil of Leonardo da Vinci.
Magdalen College Library, photo courtesy of Tasneem Hassanali

St. Hilda’s College Library

The last leg of our tour took us to the Kathleen Major Library at St. Hilda’s College.  This light and airy library was built in 1935 so provided a sharp contrast to the two previous libraries we had visited.  During the tour we learnt about the history of the library and its collection.  The library felt very welcoming and overlooks the River Cherwell.  The library is spread over three floors with several reading rooms and we had the opportunity to wander through the library building and examine its collection.       

A timeline was on display which showed ‘The History of St. Hilda’s College Library’ from 1893-2004.  It was extremely informative and useful in showing how much things have now changed.  

                                                St Hilda's College Library, photo courtesy of Tasneem Hassanali

I thoroughly enjoyed the Oxford College Libraries tour, especially seeing three very different libraries and the changes that have taken place over the history of these libraries.  What made the event so memorable and interesting were the knowledgeable insights provided by the guides and librarians who were able to tell us lots of interesting facts and stories about these wonderful libraries.  A huge thank you to them and also to Sonja from CILIP TV and Erika from CILIP LIHG for organising this great event!
Alefiyah Oakford BSc (Hons), MA, MCILIP