24.1 ARCLIB Newsletter’s 25th Anniversary!


The very first issue of ARCLIB Bulletin (AKA ARCLIB Newsletter) was released to members in print 25 years ago, in June 1993. Since then there have been 23 complete issues and we are currently preparing a 24th in this new digital format. Issue 20 onwards can be found in this wordpress blog format in the Older Issues section. Earlier issues 14-17 and 19-20 can be found on the ARCLIB website and will transfer to the new version of the site when launched. A complete print set of issues is held in the ARCLIB Archive.


Issue 1 Editorial, June 1993 – ‘WELCOME!’

The first issue of ARCLIB Bulletin included a review of the ‘annual seminar’ held in Portsmouth in September 1992. The theme of that seminar was ‘electronic bibliographic databases relating to Architecture and Construction’. The ‘best known’ databases are probably still Avery Index and RIBA catalogue.

There was also a report by Catherine Tranmer on the Venice Conference: Europa 1993, a ‘stimulating’ event organised by the CNBA. Interestingly there event itself was free; sponsored by a Venetian bank and a commercial company. The focus was to ‘progress ideas on co-operation between European architecture libraries and to formulate a programme of co-operative projects…’

Following this theme of co-operation and collaborative projects were reports on Erasmus funded visits to Greek architecture libraries, on a prototype imaging system from the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, plus the development of the Buildings of England database based on the Pevsner series, anticipating its initial release on CD-ROM.


News, reviews and collaborations!

I would like to echo the same call for contributions that has been made over the last 25 years, to keep the newsletter going strong:

‘Anyone who would like to pass on notes of their activities, useful contacts, or suggestions of any kind are welcome – very welcome indeed … Happy reading!’

Contact the Editor:

David Stacey
Faculty Librarian for Engineering & Design
University of Bath
Library L3.13
+44 (0)1225 385594




23.2 That sounds easy! Simple audio recording and editing for instructional podcasts

Presentation by Sally Bell (University of Strathclyde) & David Buri (Glasgow School of Art).

Sally and David described how they are looking to podcasts and audio guides as a new way to engage students.  As well as a way to reach the local audiences at the University of Strathclyde and Glasgow School of Art, GSA has a very large social media following and so there is also potential to reach a world-wide audience.  Podcasts offer the advantage of being less formal – a more casual form of communication. 

Sally and David identified many potential library applications for podcasts including orientation tours; promotion of specific resources, including clips from academic staff; research tips; promotion of exhibitions and events; interviews with staff about their research;  and interviews with architects about their use of library resources and how research informs creative practice.

Podcasts can be recorded on standard mobile phones so no specialist equipment is required.  Audacity was identified as an ideal digital editing tool as the software is free, open source, multi-platform and well established (Lynda.com even has tutorials available).  It is flexible for both basic and advanced use.  

Podcast presentation

Sally and David gave us a live demo of editing an audio recording using Audacity.  They made producing a professional video with excellent sound quality appear very straight-forward and showed us many of the tricks that can be applied.  You can easily layer recordings and add many different effects such as fading, normalising the sound to boost vocals, and adding music.

They emphasised that once you’ve put in the work, making the podcasts discoverable is just as important via VLEs, OPACs, websites and social media channels.  It’s also important to provide transcripts for accessibility and gain student feedback.

Thanks to Sally and David for encouraging us to download Audacity and give it a go!
You can listen to Sally and David’s podcast review of the conference here.

Review by Elaine Cooke, Manchester Metropolitan University


23.5 ARCLIB 2017 Marketplace overview

Birkhauser stall:
Anita Joice

This stall was very visually engaging. It featured e-books, as well as copies of new publications from Birkhauser. A laptop was also on hand to demonstrate the Birkhauser Building Types Online database, which is a large international collection of contemporary buildings from previously published Birkhäuser publications, with a focus on floor plans and sectional drawings, many of which are vector-based.

The large selection of books on display enabled the ARCLIB delegates to evaluate some of the newest publications on offer, plus the Birkhuaser rep Anita Joice ad some stationery goodies on offer too.

(Text and photo: Leo Clarey)

(Birkhauser raffle winners photo: David Stacey)

Student-led publications stall:
Lis Wallace, University of Bath

This stall displayed publications which were the result of students’ work. These were entitled as follows:

  • Lobby, by the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL)
  • Made at the WSA (ISSN 1742-416X), by Cardiff University
  • Paperspace (ISSN 2058-9301), by University of Bath – The University of Bath, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering
  • Perspecta (ISSN 0079 0958), by School of Architecture and Design, Yale (USA)
  • Scroope (ISSN 0966-1026), by University of Cambridge

Having a stall which promoted the work of students shows that there is a large amount of creative output in terms of students’ work. Seeing these books brought the wide range of student work to life, and serves as a reminder that it is not solely the work of the architects and designers which should receive noted attention. The publications themselves are very well presented, and would be a good addition to the acquisitions of art and design libraries.

(Text and photo: Leo Clarey)

In a materials world stall:
Sherene King, of Middlesex University

The Middlesex University Market stall showcased the Samples Collection held by the university’s Sheppard Library in its ‘Materials Room’, and included a poster with images of the collection in use, a Z card that is used to promote the collection and a handout with further information that was provided for ARCLIB members. Sherene, who is the Interior Architecture and Interior Design librarian, was on hand to answer any questions.

The use of materials was a noted feature at the 2017 ARCLIB Conference, and Sherene’s stall demonstrated the practical use that materials libraries have for students and staff alike, following the presentation on materials libraries which was made by Carla Marchesan (Librarian at The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts) during the conference. Sherene also included a copy of her article that was published in ‘Draft 3’ of Middlesex University’s in-house Interiors magazine entitled – How does it feel?, which highlights the need for physical engagement with materials.

(Text: Leo Clarey and Sherene King. Photos: Leo Clarey)

Trend books stall:
Sharon Laverick, of Leicester De Montfort University

This stall featured books focusing on trends, and highlighted the interplay between fashion and architecture, demonstrating how some designers have been influenced by fashion. It was interesting to see how some of the language from both disciplines are exchangeable, and highlighted that what are usually viewed as two separate disciplines, i.e. architecture and fashion, have shared elements, language used and historic trends.

Sharon Laverick (Assistant Librarian at De Monfort University Library) brought along a selection of Design Trend books that are used at De Montfort University, which have samples, sketches, colours, and imagery to illustrate four trends which are predicted for two years hence. These publications are very expensive packages bought in for fashion students but are also of interest and relevance to other design disciplines.

(Text: Leo Clarey and Sharon Laverick. Poster: Sharon Laverick, Photo: Leo Clarey)

World Microfilms Publications Ltd. (Pidgeon Digital) stall
Hosted by Lucian Palmer and Laura Margolis

This stall showcased the Pidgeon Digital and Masters of Architecture databases. The former is a web-based digital collection of audio-visual talks and interviews of leading architects and designers working in the field of the built environment, dating from 1955 to the present. In terms of the user’s experience there is an easy-to-use search bar and tile view on the home page. The database’s collection can also be viewed by subject, architect, location, or building.

The latter is an ongoing series of colour images from Pidgeon Digital and World Microfilms, which highlight the work of architects, and also the range of architecturally-related subjects. There are approximately seven thousand images on the Masters of Architecture. Further images will be added in the future, while the purchasing of a DVD with the images is also an option. Lucian Palmer, the Director of World Microfilms Publications Ltd. and Laura Margolis, the Administrative Coordinator, were on hand to explain how both databases would appeal to students of design courses, and also suggested that interested institutions are invited to take up a 30-day trial.

(Text: Leo Clarey, Posters: Laura Margolis)

(Marketplace in full swing, photo: David Stacey)

Review article by Leo Clarey, London College of Communication Library


23.1 Architectural Design and Model Making Studio

What an amazing start to a conference: put delegates in the shoes of Architecture students and experience a typical workshop. As a newbie to the subject of Architecture as well as to the Arclib community, this was an instant immersion I was never going to forget. It was also a brilliant way to get delegates talking with each other right from the very start.

Working in teams, we had to design and build a unique space within a contemporary library. Each team was allocated one of the following briefs:

  • A space to facilitate thought and contemplation for design students
  • A space to facilitate temporary displays for objects and / or books
  • A space to facilitate group study for history and philosophy students

studio 2Sheets of cardboard, paper, glue and cutting tools were provided and we were challenged to create a model of an appropriate scale. Although cost was not an explicit consideration, we needed to have an idea of “materiality”.

Once time was called on our model-making exploits each team presented (and defended) their design to a panel comprising staff from the school of Architecture at Bath.

The resulting models showed a great deal of imagination and although there was duplication of brief, it was fascinating how the teams differed in their approach and resulting outputs. Sadly, from my team’s perspective there could be only one design crowned as “winner” and it wasn’t ours! Nevertheless this whole activity was an inspired way to open a conference and other CPD events would benefit from this model (pardon the pun). Hats off to David and his team.

Review by Ginny Franklin, Loughborough University.

studio 1

Photographs by Tom Rogers, University of Bath.


23.6 Embedding study skills support into teaching and enquiry services

Emma Delaney (Faculty Librarian, Environment & Technology) and Morwenna Peters (Library Campus Manager and Subject Librarian, Arts, Creative Industries and Education), University of the West of England (Bristol): Embedding study skills support into teaching and enquiry services

Emma and Morwenna identified four facets of presenting support:

  1. Traditional information literacy
  2. Face to face support
  3. Online support
  4. Enquiry services

In order to facilitate the embedding of the support they formed an Academic Literacy Forum to develop a robust hub, since academic skills are now part of the remit in which they have a co-ordinating role along with the Royal Literary Fellows.

This incluuwe talk slide.pngdes: support and training for librarians; workbooks in Blackboard; observing, co-teaching and leading; English for Academic Purposes courses; co-delivery with academic staff (which could be more engaging for the students).

uwe talk slide.pngThey have produced a dedicated study skills web site available from the library webpage and the student study support webpages. The approach illustrates the advantages of collaborating with other university departments, in the case the Academic Support Unit, using joint enterprise to increase the effective availability of the services. This also extends to the 24/7 chat service available from various locations in the website via a widget.

There was discussion about developing a policy on the extent to which these services should provide a proof reading service to students. It has been found that frequent approaches to the referencing service were for proof reading which it was decided not to offer.

For Architecture students the support includes advice on reading, note taking and referencing, plus: in year 1, an online workbook, and academic related diagnostic; in year 2 a two-hour face to face session; in year 3 back to online support. In year 1 the training faced a challenge presented by students not attending!

For Fashion and Photography students in addition to a Visual Culture workbook they receive guidance on critical reading, thinking and writing especially with regard to reviewing shows.

Heriot Watt call their skills training sessions ‘Power Hours’.

The challenges have been illustrated by the following questions:

  • Is this our role?
  • How do we share best practice?
  • What next?
  • What is a librarian?
  • Whither the materials library?

Review by Philip Pearson, The Courtauld Institute of Art.



23.4 Is the universe expanding or contracting? We could ask the same question about materials libraries

Talk 5: Carla Marchesan: reporting on materials libraries across the UK and beyond.

Summary of findings:

Dedicated staff and space for materials collections was not common across the survey respondents; it was more common for tutors to have built up their own collections; importance of physical contact with the materials; problem of lack of storage space to house materials collections, and lack of funds to invest in new materials, or lack of funds for dedicated staff to curate collection.

carla materialsChelsea College of Art disbanded their materials collections due to low use. When UNL became London Met, they closed their materials library and developed a media centre instead. The Prince’s Foundation tried to develop a materials library but ran out of space and eventually it closed, partly due to low interest.

Often lecturers and studio leaders have samples and collections of their own and many architectural practices have their own collections with plus materials librarians.

Very often, online resources such as Materials ConneXion are seen as enough – with more than 7,000 materials in its online library. For example, Edinburgh College of Art has a subscription, as does Glasgow School of Art. ECA does have a small collection from one supplier but it is very out-dated, and has been largely replaced by the MC subscription. It is worth noting that Dundee University are going to get subscribe to MC when the V&A opens. In contrast, Portsmouth has cancelled their subscription.

Question: Should we be exploring the possibility of accessing the collections of architectural practices?

You need a large storage space or display space and adjoining study or teaching space within your School. This is better than having it within the library space (but then who takes responsibility for keeping it up to date?) How easy would it be to persuade the University Library that this use of space is a good investment (particularly if the idea is to regularly dispose of samples and buy new ones)?

Who does have a Materials Library?

University materials libraries:

Non-University materials libraries:

A short video tour of the Brooking Collection that Carla made on her visit demonstrated the vast array of building artefacts Charles Brooking has assembled – including for examples window and door fittings, mouldings, fire grates, staircases and much more.

Carla also described collections in France, Switzerland and Italy. One of Carla’s marketplace posters also detailed materials libraries and was a great tie-in to this talk.

Tip: have a look at the Materials Council website (“specialists in the research, comparison and selection of materials for architectural and interior applications”).

Review by Jane Furness, University of Edinburgh.


23.8 Podcast: ARCLIB 2017 Conference review

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.

Full transcript:

*Intro music*

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.

*outro music*