Author Archives: David :-)

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


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:
(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