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Vincent Matthews

UCL Library Services Annual Report 2011/12

Widening Participation and Public Engagement

Vincent Matthews

Outreach & Public Engagement

I reported last year that in 2010/11 we had concentrated on identifying the best ways to promote our potential to audiences beyond our core community of students, teachers and researchers at UCL. This year has seen some notable progress towards goals associated with showcasing our collections and opening up our buildings. These goals are described in a recently launched webpage – Welcoming the public. Underpinning all our work is the expertise of our staff and our web presence.

Showcasing our collections

Following our highly successful exhibition focusing on Francis Galton in 2011, three London-related themes were agreed for the Library’s exhibitions work in the Main Library during 2012:

  • Charles Dickens at 200
  • Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
  • Sports Ancient and Modern (to mark the London 2012 Olympics and the 75th anniversary of the UCL Institute of Archaeology)

Together these comprised A Capital City: London events and anniversaries in 2012.

The Capital City exhibition led to our involvement in the UCL event, Dickens’s London on 15th March 2012 and the UCL festival, One Day in the City on 15 June 2012. Materials from Special Collections featured in exhibitions in the North cloisters and Art Museum that accompanied these.

Alongside our exhibitions, we continued to arrange access for interested parties, including researchers and students from elsewhere, to view rare and / or specialist material held either centrally or at other sites, in this case the Queen Square Library of the UCL Institute of Neurology & National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery:

Books “ One of the important components of our program was the history of "hysterical" problems in soldiers. Being able to have direct access to the records of Lewis Yealland provided an unforgettably enriching experience for my students. The evaluations the students gave of the class indicates that the review of the original case records at the Queen Square Archives was the most interesting and meaningful experience they had on the program.
Thank you for help in making our review of those case records possible. I only wish we could have spent more time (MUCH more time) in our review of the documents.
I hope that it will be possible to bring another student group to the Archive this June?
The material held in the Queen Square Archives contains information that is most relevant to any modern understanding of what constitutes madness and its treatment. You were so helpful and patient with us, and I am very grateful to you all .” Rik Seefeldt, University of Wisconsin-River Falls

Opening up our buildings

Work commenced this year to re-model the Flaxman Gallery, already one of UCL’s grandest architectural spaces, to create an Oculus and improved setting for the plaster model of Flaxman’s statue, St Michael Overcoming Satan. The Flaxman Gallery and St Michael are major points of interest for the public, as was demonstrated by the number of visitors when we participated for the first time in Open House London. It will be interesting to see how these improvement works are received once they are complete.

Visitors to the Flaxman Gallery “ In September 2011, the Flaxman Gallery was opened to the public as part of Open House London 2011. We met visiting groups to guide them into the Main Library where they admired the gallery, even with the building works going on, and the statue of St Michael overpowering Satan. We also talked about John Flaxman’s works, the Donaldson Reading Room, and offered some general facts about our libraries. We finished by opening up the grand doors and taking visitors on to the Portico for views across the UCL quad. We were delighted to have attracted over 300 visitors. ” Antonio Garcia-Fernandez and Daniel Kordik, UCL Library Services

 
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