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UCL Library Services Annual Report 2010/11

Research Support

Lesley Pitman

Supporting UCL’s world class research has always been core business for UCL Library Services, but it is also an area that is changing very fast. The development of UCL’s 2011 Research Strategy, which calls for “a transformation of the understanding of the role of our comprehensive research-intensive university in the 21st century”, lays down a clear challenge to Library Services. Innovation and cross-disciplinarity now co-exist with more traditional ways of carrying out research, making the task of the Library increasingly complex.

To attempt to address these challenges ideas were sought from right across Library Services and then distilled into four main areas of work:

Research Collection. These are at the heart of our research support, and great efforts were made during the year to identify new electronic resources needed to support new areas of research, with the aim of expanding the range of titles available. Alongside new resources, our Special Collections have become more accessible though project funding for digitisation. During the year work was completed on EuropeanaTravel, and planning started for a new project funded by the Wellcome Trust to digitise material from our Penrose and Haldane Collections.

Systems and infrastructure. Our aim is to implement systems that provide the best possible access to research resources wherever they are. In July UCL Discovery was launched as the home for UCL research output, and work continued to develop it as an epublishing platform for UCL academic journals.

Professional skills. The skills of library staff in areas as diverse as metadata, IPR and systems as well as their subject knowledge have made them successful partners in a number of projects with academic departments, a notable example being the well-known crowdsourcing project “Transcribe Bentham“.

External relations and partnerships. Library staff have been actively involved in supporting UCL’s expanding range of national and international partnerships across all disciplines, and exploring ways to support research on UCL’s overseas campuses.

This year saw the completion of EuropeanaTravel, a large scale digitisation project funded by the European Union, in which UCL Library Services worked with partners across Europe to digitise research material on the theme of travel. The benefits to research within UCL were immediate. Professor Wendy Bracewell describes the impact of the project:

'Mappa Generalis Totius Imperii Russici' “ It's been very useful, and very much used in UCL-based research, at lecturer, postgraduate and even undergraduate level. Having the digitized texts has made rare material available to users who wouldn't otherwise have known about it, or have been able to get such easy access to it. Several MA students and undergraduates have used it in writing MA dissertations or final-year research theses, and I suspect that this availability has in no small measure contributed to their choice of research topic. The project fits very well with an on-going UCL-wide interest in travel writing, and more generally in intercultural interactions, so it isn't surprising that it's found an appreciative audience. ”

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