24.12 King Richard III Visitor Centre & Wygston’s House

The conference was off to an excellent start with a drinks reception at the King Richard III visitor centre. The Visitor Centre stands on the site of the medieval friary of the Grey Friars where the king’s remains were buried over 500 years ago.

This was followed by a fascinating talk on the ‘Cousins War’ and guided tour of the centre by our very enthusiastic guide who helped bring the rich history of Leicester and story of Richard III to life.

The evening was rounded off with a meal at Wygston’s House, Leicester’s oldest standing house. The night coincided with the World Cup semi-final and those worried about missing this momentous event needn’t have feared as the hotel kindly provided a big screen for the occasion – to the delight of some, if not all delegates! The good food and company made England’s 2-1 defeat to Croatia easier to bear!


Report and photography by:
Elaine Cooke, Manchester Metropolitan University



ARCLIB 2018 Conference report: Working with Library Interns to provide Student Perspective on Library Services

A fascinating and inspiring talk by Karen Crinnion of Newcastle University about an initiative to employ student library interns who were briefed to undertake research into an area of the library service of their own choosing. The library then used the outcomes to inform improvements and enhancements.

The three students recruited came from architecture/planning courses at undergrad and postgrad levels. Their training involved learning about library services and resources for students in their subject area. They were then given free rein to plan their own research project. With hindsight, Karen said that she would probably choose to be more directive in the research area, but it seems to me they got some pretty useful results!

The main findings from the student interns’ research project were :

  • Students had limited awareness of online resources
  • Students were satisfied with the physical bookstock, but lacked awareness of services such as patron driven acquisition, and reservations
  • Students prefer communication by email or social media.

I found the action list Karen shared with us thought-provoking, especially the idea to plan a calendar of promotional activity.

This is a summary of actions that University of Newcastle Library Services are implementing :

  • Contact dissertation supervisors for list of dissertation subjects and buy relevant titles
  • Advertise new acquisitions on the online subject guide
  • Schedule a calendar of promotional blog posts for specific resources
  • Update library info for course handbooks
  • Use short online promotional videos
  • Liaise with academic colleagues to include targeted library info in the School newsletter.


Written by Richenda Gwilt, University of the Arts London

24.11 The Universities of Leicester

The Universities of Leicester – A lecture by Arthur Lyons, Honorary Research Fellow, De Montfort University

In his lecture, Arthur Lyons highlighted buildings of both architectural interest and merit at Leicester’s universities: De Montfort University (DMU) originating from the 1870 Leicester Art School, and the University of Leicester having its foundations in the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland University College of 1921.

He showed us a building that had been made into a stamp!

Leicester stamp

Engineering Building, University of Leicester.  Modern University Buildings, 1971

This was the Engineering Building (1959-63) of the University of Leicester designed by James Stirling and James Gowan.  It is probably the most iconic building associated with Leicester itself and continues to attract national and international attention. It was the building that launched James Stirling’s career.  It has a grade II* listing.

Other building gems at the University of Leicester include work by Denys Lasdun, Leslie Martin, Colin St John Wilson and Arup Associates.

Although not of architectural significance we were shown a slide of College House, which was once the family home of a former principal, Dr Frederick Attenborough, father of Richard, David and John.  We learned that, as a boy, David volunteered at the New Walk Museum, where we later had our conference dinner, and saw a recent portrait of him, commissioned in celebration of his ninetieth birthday, by Bryan Organ.

Organ, B. 'Attenborough in Paradise' (Sir David Attenborough)' 2016.jpg

Attenborough in Paradise (Portrait of Sir David Attenborough)© Bryan Organ/Leicester Arts & Museums.

Conference base was the Vijay Patel Building, the location of architecture, art and design courses at DMU.  This building forms part of the £136 million investment by the VC, Dominic Shellard, to create a campus fit for the C21st, linking the city to the River Soar via open spaces.  Such spaces are filled with attractive plants.

Vijay Patel Building, DMU_123HR

The Vijay Patel Building – photo by Neil Hoyle: www.neilhoylephotography.com
(reproduced with permission from CPMG Director Nick Gregory)

The planting is just lovely; soft grasses and herbaceous prairie-style plants, inspired I suspect by the Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.  Sorry, I’m going off piste here!

planting at dmu

The DMU campus encompasses much of the medieval heart of the city.  It has a castle!

planting at dmu 2

And it also has a gatehouse to the castle complex, known as the Magazine Gateway (c.1410).  Life in 2018 is a little more tranquil for this Grade 1 historic monument which until very recently was marooned amidst the inner ring road for the best part of forty years.

DMU topiary in front of Trinity Hospital founded in 1331 by Henry Plantagenet, 3rd Earl of Lancaster and Leicester.  Arthur advised that the chapel area is virtually unchanged from the C14th.

planting at dmu 3

The Hawthorn Building (1897) by Everard & Pick of Leicester, who continue to practice today as Pick Everard, originally housed the Art and Technology School.  Today this building houses the Faculty of Health & Life Sciences but is also home to two arches from the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, founded by Henry Plantagenet in 1354.  It is believed that it was here, in this church, that Richard III’s body was displayed before being interred in the car park i.e. Grey Friars.


The Hawthorn Building (1897) – Everard & Pick

Like the University of Leicester, DMU has an iconic building for its School of Engineering.  This is the Queen’s Building (1993) designed by Short Ford Architects.  Arthur informed us that it was an example of passive design, being regarded at the time of its construction as the most eco-friendly building in the UK.


Queen’s Building (1993) – Short Ford Architects


Enigmatic origins – no one knows who built the Chancellor’s House

In his talk, Arthur Lyons vividly brought to life the wealth of buildings on Leicester’s campuses.  We saw many of these buildings later on our tour of Leicester by Colin Crosby.

Review by Susan Hill | University of Surrey

Photographs by Susan Hill and David Stacey


24.10 Repurposing, regenerating and reimaging an information literacy framework

Here we go again: Repurposing, regenerating and reimaging an information literacy framework – Greta Friggens, University of Portsmouth.

Through getting the delegates to work in pairs to play cat’s cradle whilst a video demonstration played on screen, Greta got us to consider the difficulty in learning a new, unfamiliar skill (or reacquainting yourself with a rusty one) whilst being bombarded with the information in one uncontrollable form. She compared this to the student experience during a Library induction. Students must listen, absorb, take notes, potentially interact or follow along on devices, but cannot pause or slow down the instruction, ask the instructor to repeat him/herself, or fast forward where they are already proficient. Furthermore, they cannot go back to refresh their memory in the following weeks and months.


Portsmouth wanted a resource to go alongside their teaching that would be more useful than PowerPoint slides. This needed to be self-paced, accessible for different learning styles, include an element of self-testing and possibly offering rewards for achievement. Staff also wanted to monitor student interaction, integrate it into the VLE (Moodle) and map it to their existing literacy framework.


Exploring Leicester

The Library managed to obtain 3 year project funding from the University, and acquired Credo Courseware. This is an American produced e-learning platform, which provides online course materials on information literacy and study skills. These are aligned to existing frameworks such as ACRL, ANCIL and SCONUL’s 7 Pillars. The University of Portsmouth are their first UK customer.


Portsmouth initially ran a focus group for user feedback, offering a £10 incentive to student participants. This was aimed at Undergraduates but there were some Postgraduate participants, from a variety of disciplines.

The Faculty Librarians then worked together to customise the available lessons over the course of 9 months. There were 26 lessons in total, categorised into information literacy; ethics; referencing; and study skills. The Librarians looked at 2 or 3 lessons each.

Librarians then customised the lessons further for their faculties. Greta customised the content for the Faculty of Cultural and Creative Industries with help from academic staff and students. This was then trialled as a block in Moodle for the start of the new academic year.

From looking at the usage, it appeared that students did engage before classes in order to prepare. However, they did not tend to look at the end of the Library instruction, as the “lecture covered it all”. It transpired that one of the most used resources was the PowerPoint presentation from one of the classes (looked at over 200 times). The most popular Credo lessons were Evaluating Information, Why Citations Matter and APA referencing. There was a peak in usage in January and the week before assessment deadlines in May. Despite focus group participants expressing an interest, students did not actually engage with the quiz elements or videos. Further focus groups would be required to investigate the reasons behind this.


Leicester Cathedral

Portsmouth concluded that they still need to do further customisation for optimum effect. They want to repurpose materials that already exist elsewhere such as videos, Lynda.com tutorials, and links to useful webpages. However, this is time consuming and more difficult to do at subject/programme level rather than at faculty level. Greta noted that in their initial focus group, students fed back that subject customisation was a ‘nice to have’ rather than essential.

Despite engagement not being as high as anticipated, the project has allowed the Faculty Librarians to come together to work with a combined focus on supporting information literacy. The opportunity to collaborate with academic staff has further improved liaison. Faculty librarians also gained full access to Moodle modules, which was not previously easy to obtain.

The 3 year project is now reaching an end, and Portsmouth may not have continued funding for the Credo package. They are currently considering whether they will need to migrate content elsewhere if their subscription ends, and what alternative products are available elsewhere for free.

Report by Angie Applegate | Loughborough University London



24.9 Infographics workshop with Julia Reeve

Julia Reeve, from the Centre for Enhancing Learning through Technology (CELT), De Montfort University, kicked-off the conference by leading a thoroughly engaging workshop which proved a great ice-breaker. She began with a brainstorm around Infographics, visual representations of information intended to either ‘immerse or ignite’. The former being a bit heavier on text whereas the latter is focused on exciting instant interest in a topic. Either way, infographics are intended to tell a story or explain a process, in a quick, easy to understand and above all engaging way.


What are they particularly good for?

  • Expressing scale/quantities
  • Making comparisons
  • Exploring abstract concepts e.g. Ikigai
  • Maps and more!

In addition, infographics can be very useful for researchers to explain their research topics to non-specialists. Creating module guides in the form of an infographic also demonstrated a very practical usage in HE.

It was great to have a look at some inspirational books before we got started on our task of designing an infographic. Julia provided a good spread of titles on a table, including ‘Information is Beautiful’.  We were also shown some entertaining examples on a slideshow, such as a taxonomy of London’s hipster coffee shop names – including some real gems, from sinister Dark Fluid to homely Caravan. A few other classic infographic examples also popped up too, such as the once-ubiquitous Wordle. As librarians we all know how much fun we had dumping reams of text into this and seeing what it generated.

Before making our own infographic we had to consider:

  • Fundamentally, what is the purpose, the core message?
  • Who is the audience you are designing it for? It needs to be easily understood by non-librarians!
  • Where is it going to go? Eg. On the web, a poster, magazine, etc, and therefore:
  • What is going to be the balance of text to image? What size and style of font is appropriate?


I was pleased that we would be foregoing the use of software. There is quite a lot out there that you can try with a free account, then pay to upgrade for more features, ready-made themes, clipart and more. From my own experience I can say that some are better than others e.g. Piktochart, but you can still get a lot of mileage from PowerPoint. I’m also particularly enamoured of Canva at the moment, not least for its range of free to use imagery.

We got to work with coloured paper, pens, scissors, glue, some pre-printed sheets of clipart cleverly compiled by Julia. Whilst I hit a lot of dead ends in my design process and it took a while to settle on a good concept, it did not matter that I did not quite finish my infographic in the time we had. It also demonstrated that jumping straight into a piece of software could mean you might miss some of the best bits of planning; perhaps it is too easy to over-rely on existing templates and imagery, imitating off-the-peg options rather than starting from scratch. The various half-formed scribblings I have in my notepad will be something I can return to and develop into something useful in the future and I will aim to finish these before I try to make a digital version, if I use software again at all.


For me most valuable part of the workshop proved to be the sharing of our drafts with each other, using a digital projector. What might have proven daunting was instead really fun and gave an insight into the different approaches that can be taken, the different creative talents and insights of all the participants.  There was also a sort of cut-and-paste charm to these half or mostly-finished designs – a nice counterbalance to the slick productions in ‘Information is Beautiful’ and on Pinterest. It also transpires that architecture librarians love to do a bit of colouring-in, and what better way to mentally warm up for a conference?

Report by David Stacey | University of Bath



24.8 Brutal Architecture and ‘Sketching the Past’

My colleague David Bennett, has written this lovely blog post on some famous Brutalist Architecture:

Sketching the past: commemorating 20th century architecture – David Bennett

Others might be interested as we were discussing the Stirling Engineering Building of Leicester University at the conference. The facts for the article were were supplied by Matt Lindley, attributed at the end of the post, who is employed by Go Compare to advance their project promoting unloved Twentieth Century Architecture.

Post by Greta Friggens | University of Portsmouth


Leicester University Engineering Building 06
Stirling & Gowan. 1959-63. University of Leicester. Engineering Building. Leicester. UK. Image by: John Levett | https://www.flickr.com/photos/joseph_beuys_hat/    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

ARCLIBbers enjoying a mid-conference roof-top lunch at the newly opened Vijay Patel building, overlooking the top of the Queen’s Building and its natural ventilation ‘chimneys’ (photo by Sarah Nicholas):

roof lunch





24.7 Architectural walking tour of Leicester with Colin Crosby

Colin, our tour guide, showed us first New Walk Centre, then New Walk itself, created as a route to the Racecourse. Then in Market Street we saw the Auction Rooms which attracted people and business to the city.

We were shown statues, of which Leicester has many, only outstripped by Liverpool and London. One of these was of Thomas Cook, who first hired trains from Leicester to Loughborough for a temperance meeting and then, with his son, started his world business.


We made our way to St Martin’s Square, the old cathedral churchyard now opened out and regenerated with the new sculpture “Towards Stillness”, and were allowed into the cathedral for a few minutes to see the latest tomb of King Richard III.

Colin next showed us the Market Hall, seat of local government for 400 years. Nearby was the BBC’s first regional station but now in their new building.
After seeing Wygston House (where we had watched the World Cup) more thoroughly in daylight…

…we walked around to Jubilee Square to see the High Street (city walls now gone) and the eating houses and spectacular glass of the new shops in Highcross Shopping Centre.

Passing the free Grammar School, we moved on to St Nicholas church, a very early Saxon church with 14th Century tower and architecture from many periods, but including Roman tiles in its construction and a brick bearing a dog paw-print (just as people today walk in cement whilst it is setting!)

It shares an historic boundary Jewry Wall with the Roman public Baths originally watered by an aqueduct. A Jewry Wall museum is out of sight on the left, which there was no time to explore.


On the West Bridge above the River Soar we were shown characters from the Canterbury Tales.


Walking next through Castle Gardens, we arrived at the church of St Mary de Castro (Mary of the walls) in the Old Town, associated with both Richard III and Henry II.

We then entered the Castle through the Bailey and saw the remains of its Motte, and were reminded of the 1640 siege of Leicester which ended in a bloody Royalist victory in 1645

Finally, a short walk along Castle View brought us back surprisingly quickly to The Magazine and magazine Gate and the de Montfort campus.

We arrived bang on time at 16.00 and thanked Colin for being so erudite and witty, before we all dispersed.

Review and photographs by:
Norman Ashfield