Sally Bell (University of Strathclyde) and David Buri (Glasgow School of Art) interviewed several delegates at the 2017 ARCLIB conference. Sally has kindly put together a podcast to review the conference embedded below.
Sally: Hello, and welcome to the ARCLIB 2017 conference review podcast. MY name is Sally, and I’m the Engineering Faculty Librarian at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow. Over the 2.5 days of this year’s conference at the University of Bath, me and my colleague David Buri from Glasgow School of Art interviewed the conference organiser and also 6 delegates about some of the sessions and events which took place. We’ll start with the conference organiser David who welcomed delegates to campus on Wednesday July 5th
David Stacey: Hello my name is David Stacey, I’m the Faculty Librarian for Engineering and Design at the University of Bath and I’m involved in organising the 2017 ARCLIB conference here and I’d like to say welcome to all of you for coming to the conference and I hope you have a wonderful time. So the first session at the conference was a workshop, a studio based workshop, with the studio leader for 1st and 2nd years Daniel Wong who organised an activity for us. Working in 6 different groups of 5 or 6 people designing and making a model of a library space and then we had a miniature crit and everyone got to present their designs at the end, and there was a prize – some sweets – for the winning teams who got a little certificate as well. And I think it went very well, everyone seemed very enthused and got stuck into the model making. It was a little bit different and something nice to break the ice at the conference for everybody.
Sally: As David described there the opening afternoon was spent in a competitive workshop exercise, as participants Cassy and Sylvia expand upon.
Cassy: I’m Cassy Sachar a Librarian at Chelsea College of Arts in London, and yesterday was the first day of the ARCLIB conference. We had two really lovely events, in the afternoon we had what turned out to be a model making competition, and quite a bit of the student experience, where we had a brief and we had to make a model as a group, and some of the teaching staff from Bath came and gave us a crit. Which was a little bit nerve wracking and also exciting, and I happened to be on one of the winning teams which is also very nice. We had to design a space for a contemporary library for thought and contemplation for design students. I think we had some ideas incorporating ideas like lots of glass, green roofs, water features which the judging panel seemed to like.
Sylvia: Hello, Sylvia Harris, I am a founder member of ARCLIB so I go back to the very origins of this wonderful organisation and it’s great to see it grow with so many new people, and I currently work part time at the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff University. The group exercise was to design a contemporary space. My group, we felt, well, the theme I picked up on was that inspiration came in waves so we tried to make a building which was kind of wavy in its expression to pick up on that. But there was some very excellent other things people produced in other groups, very finely made objects for moving about and playing with as well. More than anything else what I liked was it really made me appreciate what students go through in the design process, and why they take all night to present their work. It really brought that home because we had a limited amount of materials to work with so it was challenging from that point of view, and then to suddenly think of articulating a design for a building was really quite a challenge and to have actual tutors who teach here in this university to crit us was really innovative.
Sally: Following this we enjoyed a walk through the campus for our evening entertainment, Cassy describes this for us
Cassy: IN the evening we had this really lovely trip to the American Museum, saw a fantastic display on the 1920s and these beautiful costumes, sort of flapper dresses and sequins, and then just a really lovely sort of drinks session overlooking the most beautiful Jane Austen countryside, which I’m sure somebody created just for us because everything was just perfect. You know, architecture librarians, a beautiful view, a glass of prosecco… it was a lovely start to the conference.
Sally: Day 2, Thursday 6th of July, was a full day of presentations and events including a special talk from Jonathan Stock of Architecture Today, a review of architectural materials libraries by Carla Marchesan, and a private viewing of the Brutalist Playground exhibit. Delegates Eleanor and Leo kindly gave us their thoughts.
Eleanor: My name’s Eleanor Gawne, I’m the Librarian at the Architectural Association. The AA has been a member of ARCLIB for a long, long time and I’ve been involved just for the last 4 years since I’ve been at the AA. I manage the library team, there are 4 of us in total, and I also look after the Special Collections. I managed to attend the whole of Thursday. There were a real variety of different speakers and different subjects. I found your and David’s presentation, I thought it was probably very very complicated putting together a podcast and it was great how you were explaining it and I realised with all this kind of free software and stuff it would be quite a manageable thing to do.
Another session I found interesting was Jonathan Stock’s talk about publishing today I thought he was being very brave standing up in front of all these architecture librarians. But I thought his talk was really interesting how he was explaining how publishing today is so, so different to how it was 5 or 10 years ago. And right at the end of the talk when he mentioned that he could see that some architectural publishers in the future will possibly have to offer their products for free to architecture libraries because, you know, it’s just not cost effective to charge these very very large sums and obviously with the decline in advertising and stuff. I thought that was, I thought that was really interesting.
Carla’s talk about materials libraries that was also interesting and I thought very relevant to us. We don’t have a materials library, we just don’t have space for one at the AA, it started me thinking about whether there were ways we could possibly share materials libraries with other libraries. I mean, I’ve been to Central St Martin’s so I’ve seen their materials library which is absolutely enormous, and they’ve got, they have a dedicated member of staff to look after it. Yeah, it just made me think of how our students might be able to access material libraries. And then in the afternoon we went and visited the Brutalist Playground exhibition, which was great, I’d seen it a year or two ago when it was on show at the RIBA and here it looked quite different because they had more space to actually put these, you know, these kind of play objects. They were kind of foam shapes but they were all based on 1960’s playground kind of games, and sort of structures I suppose, that were built on particular housing estates… so places like, I think, Churchill Gardens in Pimlico. I think it had originally been designed by Assemble with an artist called Simon Terrill so they had pulled different kinds of shapes and different styles of playground structures really and reinterpreted them and built them out of foam so that anyone who was visiting the exhibition could have a go crawling through these spaces. I thought it worked really well in that space. And the talk that Ruth gave us there about giving us the background of the exhibition that was really good. The last session of the day was the marketplace and the poster networking event and that was great. It was a real sort of mixture of book publishers, and people promoting online resources, and so on and it was a good sort of end of the day.
Leo: I’m Leo Clarey, I’m from the University of the Arts London and my college is London College of Communication. I did enjoy the materials talk, I thought it was fascinating just listening to how many materials collections there are out there. I did have an input into Carla’s talk because when she sent out the circular for gathering information about materials libraries I was able to relay to her the experience that we had when I was based at Chelsea College of Art and Design and the materials library we had there. It was really good to hear about the other materials libraries that are around as well and in past years I have visited the materials library at Middlesex University so it was particularly good to hear how it’s still popular and still being used by the students. And then hearing about the materials libraries in France and in Italy as well – very interesting.
David Buri: It was really good, wasn’t it, to go down to the Edge and have that break from the formal presentations and enjoy that Brutalist Playground made out of foam.
Leo: YES! I wasn’t expecting that, no, when they said you had to take your shoes off before going in there I thought ‘oh, that’s unusual’. But walking on foam and actually sitting on the installations made of foam as well was particularly good. You know, just an interesting kind of aesthetic. When you’re used to seeing those sort of structures in concrete and having them in foam and being able to interact with them was particularly good. And yeah, yeah, very enjoyable, nice space, nice and cool in there of course on a warm day like this. So yes, very enjoyable.
David Buri: And what about the marketplace session, because that’s the second time that that’s been run and it seemed to be really good again this year.
Leo: I think so, yes. I think just as fulfilling and interesting in its range as we had at Glasgow last year. I think this year watching particularly the student led publications that was really something that kind of makes you think yeah, the students can really put a good publication together. The whole range we had; the prospective from Yale, and the Scroope the publication, the paper from Bath – I can’t remember the name – but that was particularly good I think. Well presented.
David Buri: I had a look at the one from the Bartlett which I hadn’t seen before, that was really good as well.
Leo: Yes, that was really good. So it’s really good to have that kind of student input I think as well. And then there was the, what’s it, the trend magazines that were brought from De Montfort.
David Buri: I hadn’t seen those before, I was very impressed with those.
Leo: I think I’ve kind of, I’ve kind of forgotten about trend magazine, because when I worked at London College of Fashion they used to have a lot of trend forecasting magazines which the students used heavily so it was really good to see those brought back and how Sharon was describing how she’s trying to promote them to Architecture students as well, because of the interplay of the different or the same language and the same terms that are getting used interchangeably between fashion and architecture. So that was something well worth picking up.
Sally: Thursday was rounded of beautifully with a visit to Roman Baths and a rather delicious dinner in pump rooms. Which leads us onto the final day – Friday 7th of July. After starting the day with the ARCLIB AGM, we had three sessions themed on teaching and induction which we spoke to delegates Michael and Norman about.
Michael: Hello! My name’s Michael Veitch I’m Senior Information Adviser at London Southbank University and I’m the ARCLIB Secretary. We started the day with our AGM and then we had a session on embedding information literacy and English language for academic writing, or something like that, within their department, and it’s a bit like a converged service rather than a de-converged service. Then we had a session from the University of Brighton – Action Bound app. That looked quite fun, I liked the idea of getting people in for their library induction for an hour in the room and then giving them this, setting them loose rather than sitting with a PowerPoint. So, initially sceptical but won round when I thought of applications for it. Then we had Cassy and Sarah, and the other person’s game which we all sat down. The game was called MASTERS OF KNOWLEDGE, we had to become Masters of Knowledge. It was a fantastic game. The fact that I won has nothing to do with it what so ever. It was a dice game with counters, Lego men, you had to answer questions to unlock the padlocks, collect jewels and ultimately ring the buzzer when you’d won. I think a good time was had by all.
Norman: My name’s Norman, Norman Ashfield and I’m a long-standing member of ARCLIB, I’ve been given life membership so even though I’ve retired I still enjoy coming along and meeting my friends and learning about the latest developments in the built environment area. It’s been a fantastic conference, we’ve been lucky both with the weather, the food and the accommodation. The campus itself has been very good, but I was struck today by the surprising amount of home-grown talent that was have. SO many sessions were actually delivered by our own delegates, some of whom say that it’s because they’ve been speaking that they’ve been allowed to come by their employers. I thought today was particularly good as we brought some of the students through inductions, the relevance of some of the websites and databases that we use. SO all in all it’s been a very successful day and people entered into the spirit of games and it encouraged a lot of good will with everybody, and I think the harmonious spirit of ARCLIB has continued.
Sally: So that was it, 2 and a half day of stimulating presentations, workshops, and exhibitions. We’ll finish up now with some final words from Sylvia who sums up the conference superbly.
Sylvia: The conference in general has been wonderful. It’s been inspirational and really quite different. And I go back to a time really when there was much less use of multimedia and devices and all these new things, these new ways of taking students who are going to come to us in bigger numbers and to teach them to appreciate the information that is out there and there has been in the past as well. As far as the theme of the conference is concerned it really picked up on all those three words: Collaborate, Create, Celebrate. Definitely celebrate, for me very celebratory because of, you know, seeing this organisation carry on in such good fettle.
Sally: thanks for listening, and we’ll hopefully see you at the ACRLIB 2018 conference at De Montfort University in Leicester.