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. 

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