Regional Collaborations Unite in Edinburgh

Gaz J Johnson

A meeting between regional library collaboration managers, provides a much need day for reflection, debate and contrasts.

Dateline Edinburgh, 13th Feb 2018: Four executive managers of the UK’s regional library collaborations made the journey to a chilly Edinburgh and the National Library of Scotland for a day of debate and experience exchange. Regional managers[1] often work in isolation supporting their collaborations, and this day was a rare opportunity to sit and meet with their peers. In reverse order of distance travelled, present were: Jill Evans from SCURL, Nicky Freeman from NoWAL, your very own Dr Gaz J Johnson and Thomas Baldwin from the M25 Consortium.

While there are some nominative differences between the titles of the ‘executive managers’, with the Mercian luxuriating in support from its ‘Development Officer’, what was clear from the proceedings is that each faced similar challenges of workload and meeting membership needs, alongside advancing their respective collaboration’s strategic and operational agenda.

After refreshments and admiring comments concerning the luxurious leather-topped tables, the meeting opened with each of the managers presenting an overview of their collaboration’s constitution, strategy and operations. Given the interest in the room, presentations evolved into a very discursive and interactive format, running into the early afternoon. It was notable that while there are many commonalties in ideological and strategic direction between the collaborations, operational variances were considerable.

The second half of the day was given over to brief discussions around themed topics, expanding on the discourse within the regional managers’ private discussion forum. Hence, demonstrating membership value, organising conferences, accepting sponsorship and contributing to the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase formed the focus of discussions.

Regrettably, the managers of the Northern Collaboration and White Rose Libraries were unable to join the event. However, a second meeting is now scheduled for January 2019, this time in London, with the hope that next year will finally see all the regional managers united in a single place. This is almost certainly likely to be just as exciting, engaging and exhilarating a prospect as was the visit to Edinburgh.

Regional Collaboration Managers gather in ScotlandNational Library of Scotland Officers

With grateful thanks to Jill Evans, SCURL and the National Library of Scotland for hosting the day, and Thomas Baldwin for his role as convener. Pictures courtesy Thomas Baldwin.