This is a relatively new area of activity for UCL Library Services. Accordingly, the main priority for the period was to identify and work with UCL partners in this area so as to establish a framework and a commitment to escalating our future work.
Preparations were made in the first part of summer 2011 for the creation of a group to steer this work, with membership including colleagues already active in public engagement from UCL Museums and Collections. This will bring together expertise and create a forum in which experience of what works best, new ideas and awareness of future opportunities can be exchanged. It will also help ensure that future Library exhibitions are integrated with related UCL-wide work in this area.
Planning for activity in the rest of the Strategy period focussed on identifying opportunities for engagement and participation work through four main channels:
1. Our collections, especially but not exclusively UCL Special Collections. There will be exciting opportunities here to work with other collections and outreach staff across UCL. Our Exhibitions work in the last few years has already generated lots of interest and is a key means by which we can promote our collections and link them to outreach activities in other parts of UCL.
2. Our buildings, which in the case of several of our libraries attract public interest because of architectural merit and/or their role in the intellectual life, development and impact of UCL.
3. Our specialist staff, who arguably have much to contribute to, for example, talks and events aimed at public audiences or potential students.
4. Our web pages, where significant interest already exists around the digital availability of key resources, such as those featured in our Digital Collections and Special Collections web pages
We have been members of staff for several years and our daily work brings us into contact with a large number of the Library’s users and visitors on a daily basis. We have been asked to consider how we could manage the Library’s participation in future years in Open House London. This is an annual, London-wide event which UCL regularly participates in, allowing members of the public to view buildings of architectural interest which are not normally open to them. We think that the Main Library at UCL is the heart of Library and campus life. It also contains the well-known Flaxman Gallery which will really draw the public in. We want to be on hand to show them around and answer their questions. Most of us take such lovely surroundings for granted, but perhaps our building will stop them in their tracks and leave them wanting to know more about UCL. At least, we hope so.