Author Archives: David :-)

25.8 ARCLIB/ARLIS Teachmeet, 4 March 2019

The first ARLIS and ARCLIB joint event took place at Manchester Metropolitan University Library (MMU) on a crisp Monday afternoon in March. Gathered in one the Library’s many teaching spaces, the event got off to a thought-provoking start with participants sharing teaching ideas, techniques and tools.


Sally Bell
Faculty Librarian, University of Strathclyde

The ‘Lego Referencing’ classes aim to support students bamboozled by bibliographies and confused by citations! Facilitated by Librarians, the classes were developed using Lego serious play techniques. Each session hosts up to 15 students, often from BA or MBA courses. The workshops are organised on request from academic staff and students can sign up online. Positive feedback has been received from staff and students alike.

Workshop structure (2 hours):

  • Introduction to Lego play
  • Ice breaker activity: students draw out and make a duck using allocated colour blocks.
  •  Students invited to assemble their own Lego creation using the jumbled colour blocks stored in a set of identical storage boxes.
  • Once created, the Librarian asks students which storage box they took their various Lego blocks from. At the same time, previously hidden labels on each storage box are revealed, the labels showing information sources such as journal, book and website. The activity reveals the difficulty in identifying sources retrospectively and underlines the importance of keeping a record as your research progresses. Throughout the activity, the various stages are likened to the essay writing process: planning, drafting, constructing.
  • The varying referencing styles are then discussed and students are signposted to available guidance for their school’s preferred style.

Laura Williams
Subject Librarian, University of Huddersfield

To improve retention and promote excitement for their studies, the University have recently introduced an intensive 2-week induction programme entitled ‘Flying start’. This academic year, Laura adjusted the Library and Academic Skills workshops for the Fashion design cohort, which consisted of two groups of 30. The workshops aimed to introduce students to searching and browsing the library, reading lists and referencing. Rather than simply showing students the catalogue and inviting them to retrieve books from the shelves, Laura produced a series of colour cards, each with a unique instruction. All books retrieved by students were from their reading list and on returning to the teaching room, students worked in twos to add bibliographic details to a collaborative Padlet. The Padlet remained available after the workshop.

Taking away the pressure of producing their own search terms allowed students the time to discuss and further their understanding of the library collections using set examples.

David Buri
Academic Liaison Librarian, Glasgow School of Art

Following a second devastating fire this summer, the University have relocated many staff and students to temporary accommodation across the city. To address retention concerns and ensure business continuity, the library acquired funding for four new Architecture e-resources this year. These are Detail Inspiration, Bloomsbury Architecture Library, Building Types Online and AJ online.

David collaborated with a colleague to showcase the new e-resources to students through a series of workshops. David’s colleague is a former student at the university with practitioner experience and David described their participation as central in meeting student needs more effectively. It was felt that students are confident web users and rather than a ‘how to’ guide, the workshops focused on the benefits of using these e-resources:

• First year
Promoted how the e-resources can help develop the skills needed to become an architect, for example, compared with Pinterest, Detail Inspiration reveals how a building has been constructed through architectural drawings that are available alongside photographs of exterior facades.

• Second and third year
David’s colleague discussed how the e-resources can be used to help develop an architectural style, providing information on a range of materials and building examples. Visual content can be downloaded and added to a student’s personal reference library to inform their own portfolio.

• Fourth and fifth year
Workshops focused on employability and directed students to the job section on AJ Online. Access to information on buildings and architects, allows students to research the practice they are applying for and this enables them to talk about their work with some degree of authority.

Sarah Shenton
Subject Librarian (Arts and Humanities), Manchester Metropolitan University

Library workshops at MMU are embedded and often delivered in a large lecture theatre to 150+ students. To stimulate interest, Sarah recommended keeping the content simple and easy to follow, visual and relatable to studio practice, i.e. using terms such as “sketching out ideas” when planning an essay.

Generic sessions include tips and tools for effective searching, going beyond library search, developing keywords and examples of refining search results. Bespoke sessions focus on current assignments and have visualised a search journey round the library to demonstrate the rich information and cornucopia of inspiration available outside of Google. For instance, researching tea cosies led Sarah through knitting and around yarn bombing to arrive at a journal article about an activist artist who wears these outmoded household objects on her head!

Sessions often check understanding and reiterate guidance through a Kahoot quiz towards the end.

Another workshop held at MMU is ‘Speed Databasing’ where students are given 5 minutes to become acquainted with and rate each e-resource. Sarah also holds a ‘Library in the Café’ drop-in programme that has proven to be popular.

Elaine Cooke
Deputy Library Services Manager, Manchester Metropolitan University

Like Sarah, Elaine often presents to upwards of 150 students in a large lecture theatre for approximately 50 mins. Her subject area is Architecture and similarly she uses very visual presentations that include bespoke mind maps and examples of combining keywords using Boolean. Presentations are saved to a shared drive, allowing librarians in the team to share good practice. Diagrams visualise the visible and invisible web, whilst practical activities in smaller sessions include finding articles in bound volumes of journals to familiarise students with the library shelves. Elaine promotes the subject guides (LibGuides) and leads a live demonstration of databases (dependent on timings), emphasising Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, Construction Information Service, Lexis and Box of Broadcasts.

Sessions also check understanding and reiterate guidance through two Kahoot quizzes. Students are made aware at the beginning to encourage them to pay attention in preparation!

Exhibition Visit

Dr Richard Brook joined the group to lead a curator tour of the ‘Drawing the Modern’ exhibition at MMU. This fascinating exhibition presents drawings and photographs from the archive of Gordon Hodkinson (1928 – 2018) for the first time. Hodkinson was a student at Manchester Municipal School of Art and went on to become an Architect for H.T Seward during the post-war period. Hodkinson designed many noteworthy modernist buildings in Manchester and Dr Richard Brook took the group on a walking tour following the exhibition.

More information about the exhibition can be found online, as well as Dr Richard Brook’s Mainstream Modernism resource.


Review by Richenda Gwilt
University of the Arts London


25.7 Globalism, diversity and sustainability initiatives at DMU

How the library service at DMU has been involved in the institution-wide initiatives focussing on globalism, diversity and sustainability.

Speaker: Carol Keddie, Senior Assistant Librarian, Library and Learning Services, De Montfort University


De Montfort University has been involved in some exciting initiatives relating to inclusivity, globalism and sustainability. We have recently been named the first University of the Year for Social Inclusion by the Times/Sunday Times and our DMU Global programme has been enormously successful in enriching studies, broadening cultural horizons and developing key skills for our students. We are also now the lead higher education institute in the UN’s JoinTogether campaign, which will see all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals embedded in to the curriculum and incorporated into all aspects of DMU’s learning, teaching and research. This presentation will focus on these initiatives and how Library and Learning Services has engaged and been involved with them all.


Please use the comments section to reflect on this talk and let us know what your main takeaway was? If you have summarised your notes from the talk, please contact to include them here in this post.


25.6 Keynote: Diversity & Collections

Keynote Speaker: Jess Crilly, Associate Director Content & Discovery, Library Services, UAL (University of the Arts, London)


The presentation explored theoretical and practical approaches to diversity and collections: touching on the value of diversity as a term, the influence of critical librarianship, and the strategies of diversification and decolonisation.  The presentation described some recent activity at UAL, and also explored what might be particular to architecture as a discipline, in these contexts.


Jess covered a lot of ground and really set the tone for ARCLIB’s programme for Thursday at the conference in Venice. I have summarised my notes from the talk below, including some personal takeaways at the end. Hopefully I haven’t misrepresented any of the content!  Please post your comments and we can continue the discussion…



‘Globalism’ – essentially envisioning a ‘world that is characterised by networks and connections’ (not to be confused with internationalism, globalisation or nationalism!).

‘Diversity’ – positive recognition of the value of difference. There is debate as to the terms usefulness. It is a more palatable concept to discuss compared to discussing race or white privilege directly, and as such could be seen to help institutions avoid deeper interrogation of these issues at a structural level. In terms of promoting diversity, a lot of work at UAL was focused on closing the attainment gap (i.e. difference in degree results) between BAME and white students. 

‘Critical Librarianship’ – focusing on bridging the gap between theory and practice, in this case to challenge ‘how libraries “consciously and unconsciously support systems of oppression”‘ (Nicholson & Seale, 2018).

The two main strategies by libraries in this direction are 1) Diversification – adding more voices, narrative and histories to collections, and 2) Decolonisation – seeking out marginalised content/authors, often in alternative formats (e.g. Youtube, Zines) and making those available.

Coloniality‘ – the remnants e.g books, cultural practices, etc, that survive colonialism long after it has ended.

Eurocentrism‘ AKA ‘Western-centrism’ – the content of the canon in Western education which has overtaken other/previous forms. Whilst not being abandoned, there is certainly pressure to broaden it. See: diversification and decolonisation efforts. The end goal being a ‘Pluriversity‘ rather than University, allowing for many different viewpoints (from many cultural backgrounds) rather than a single dominant viewpoint (white/European).

At UAL, the largest Art & Design place of study in Europe with a high proportion of female and also BAME students, a lot of research has been focused on diversifying the collections. For example, looking at their ‘Printing Historical Collection:



I am wondering how we can generate momentum to move beyond delivering one-off efforts- for example to diversify the curriculum, celebrate annual events (e.g. LGBT+ History Month; Black History Month), or to update our policies/statements of values to incorporate commitments to diversity – to more concerted, long-term efforts that tackle structural issues.

Whilst our institution is engaging in a broad process for Curriculum Transformation, it is certainly timely to raise these issues as well as look at our Collection Development in a more concerted way.  Talking with colleagues at the conference and listening to Jess and other speak, I feel we may be a bit behind the curve in terms of addressing these issues head-on. As such I was pleased on returning to work to hear about new institutional efforts in these directions and hope to be involved.

Notes & reflections – David Stacey | University of Bath

25.3 Reflections on supporting architecture: year one


In October 2017 Loughborough University welcomed the first students on to a brand new Architecture programme. This short presentation reflected on the experience of supporting the first cohort and working with the new academics in the (renamed) School of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering. Architecture was not only new to Loughborough but also to me. Communities of Practice such as Arclib are an invaluable resource for librarians new to a discipline.

Talk by Ginny Franklin, Academic Librarian, Loughborough University

Ginny is an Academic Librarian supporting the Schools of Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering and Aeronautical & Automotive, Chemical and Materials Engineering.


Reflections… by David Stacey:

Ginny’s lightning talk reflected on a successful year supporting architecture students for the first time – the first accepted intake started in October 2017, finished June 2018. I think a few of us would certainly be jealous of the ‘instant engagement’ Ginny was able to generate with the programme director and how forthcoming and timely the receipt of detailed reading list spreadsheets was! The lists were even prioritised. At Bath, we still struggle to get lists in a timely way even with the implementation of reading list management software.

It was interesting also to hear about the use of scanning for course packs and the use of Libguides as we have just transferred our website with the latter and are making increasing use of the former – but perhaps more with other departments than Architecture.


Ginny followed up with some plans for year two and hopefully we’ll hear from her at future events to reflect on these and other innovations!

Finally, it was also great to hear how impactful and helpful Ginny had found the 2017 and 2018 ARCLIB conferences and the importance of networking with each other!

Your comments…

Please post your comments on this talk or email them to me ( to include in the body of the post. Do you have any questions or anything you would like to discuss? Perhaps relating to supporting architects for the first time, using Libguides, scanning services and managing reading lists!

25.2 Benchmarking architectural libraries

Session led by Eleanor Gawne, Librarian, Architectural Association.

Session outline:

Architectural libraries today are attuned to evaluating their services and facilities to  ensure they are meeting the requirements of their users and stakeholders. This evaluation can include data on staffing, size, budget, and collections including print versus digital. Accessibility and inclusion are also increasingly at the core of what we do, from improving accessibility through resources and spaces to developing audiences and user participation.

In addition to meeting the requirement of our stakeholders, benchmarking and knowledge exchange will ultimately strengthen the development and practice of contemporary art librarianship. Nearly 25 years ago a survey among architectural libraries in the USA was carried out by J.M. Brown and J. Connorton, partly funded by ARLIS/NA. This talk examined the benefits and challenges of undertaking a similar survey that ARCLIB members can use as the basis for planning and evaluation, and aimed to enlist collaboration in the project.

A word from Eleanor:

Last year I put a message on the ARCLIB and ARLIS listservs asking if anyone could recommend an existing study that benchmarks higher education libraries and specifically architectural school libraries, either in the UK or worldwide. Several people got in touch with examples of how they collect data, which was very helpful, but it seems that there hasn’t been a study made recently. I can see that the benefits of doing a survey is that it would provide libraries with data to help with planning for collections management, operations, facilities etc. as well as to justify getting more or different resources.

I presented the idea of benchmarking architectural libraries at the recent ARCLIB conference in Venice which generated quite a lot of interest. To help develop the project, I would be interested to hear if any ARCLIB members would like to join a Working Group to take this idea forward. Do get in touch if you are interested – I can be contacted at

I look forward to hearing you. Eleanor Gawne


Your comments!

As mentioned in the previous article, we’d love to hear from you about your thoughts and takeaways from Eleanor’s lightning talk at Venice. Please use the Comments section below or contact David Stacey to add directly to this post.

25.1 cnbArclib Conference. Venice, May 2019. Capturing the event!

Having just returned from an exceptional and nourishing conference with our Italian counterparts, I’ve felt a bit inspired about capturing reviews in a different way. To get you into the frame of mind for reflecting on the experience and hopefully to help us to capture your thoughts on the event, I’ve cobbled together some short recordings I took on my phone and edited them into a mini movie. I hope you enjoy!

cnbArclib May 2019 from David Stacey on Vimeo.

The talks were recorded and there will be printed proceedings. So what are we looking for from those of you who attended? Well, whilst it is still fresh in mind and before annual leave roles round and students return after the Summer, it would be great to hear from you about one or more of the following, for inclusion in this online newsletter:

  • Your key ‘takeaways’ from the event – one or two things that really resonated with you that you would like to implement or be inspired by in your own workplace
  • Your favourite talk, tour, networking event or other activity at the conference – what was it and why did you enjoy it so much? Who did you meet and/or hear from and what impact did they have?
  • A short review (150-200 words max) of a particular session in the programme – perhaps focusing on what was impactful, engaging, good or bad, rather than trying to summarise the whole thing
  • Comment on posts as they appear – including this one!
  • Add your photos to the Arclib flickr account

If you have accepted an invitation to write for the newsletter, you can log into WordPress to do so, otherwise you are very welcome to directly email your words and pictures, ideas or questions to me:

Thanks again to the committee for organising such a memorable conference. Hopefully no one minds, but below I include some immediate post-conference comments from the WhatsApp group, albeit anonymised just in case!

  • “Thanks all… I thought the programme, location and planning were all excellent.”
  • “Thank you for a spectacular conference with brilliant speakers, location, programme, visits… I was privileged to be there.”
  • “The committee did a terrific job to organise from a distance”
  • “I want to echo the accolades for Carla, Richenda, Elaine and Greta. Favolosa.”


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