Eighty delegates gathered at York on 7 July 2015 for what was arguably the first collections management (CM) practitioner based event. The day was hosted by the University of York Library at the Ron Cooke Hub at the Heslington East campus, with the support of Jisc, RLUK and SCONUL. The main aim of the day was to encourage the development of a community base around CM, alongside objectives to facilitate the sharing of experience and good practice, and enabling discussion and networking between participants. The day was also designed to discuss the potential of aligning activities within the community and to explore the potential for collaborative working. And also, not least, to assess the appetite for any future CM events.

Delegates had been asked in advance to specify the subject areas they would be most interested in discussing and these shaped the main content of the day. Jo Aitkins (University of Leicester) launched the day with a humorous reflection on ‘The dark art of managing an external store.’ This was followed by Laura Shanahan (University of Edinburgh) on ‘Developing and implementing a library collections policy to deliver and support more’ – The ‘more’ referring to the forty four uses of the word ‘increase’ in the University of Edinburgh’s current strategic plan. Helen Faulds (University of St Andrews) followed with a presentation on collections analysis, and Rachel Kirkwood (University of Manchester) gave the audience plenty to think about with her discussion of ‘Collection development or data driven curation?’

Following each set of presentations breakout groups discussed the themes and shared personal experiences and challenges. Feedback from the groups was recorded on flip charts and displayed for the rest of the day for others to reflect and comment on.

The focus of the day then turned to the potential opportunities offered through consortia working. Current experience of CM consortia working was considered in the presentation from Jill Evans (National Library of Scotland), and Richard Parsons (University of Dundee) discussing the SCURL (Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries) experience. This was followed by Mark Hughes (University of Swansea) discussing CM collaboration within Wales through WHELF (the Wales Higher Education Library Forum.) The day concluded with a group discussion led by Neil Grindley (Head of Resource Discovery, Jisc) exploring what a collections management community might look like.

Feedback from delegates was positive and enthusiastic:

 “This was the first conference that appears to focus on Collection Development and hopefully this will be the first of many”

“Great to be amongst a group of peers, all sharing the same challenges.  Thank you very much for organising this event.”

“Enjoyed #cm4lib.  Hitherto untapped area of interest for knowledge exchange judging today’s turnout, and interesting things shared for all.”

This was an overwhelmingly positive day, with an enthusiastic audience who were engaged, knowledgeable and experienced in the area of CM. In particular it reached the CM practitioners who plan, organise and undertake CM work on a daily basis. It was very clear that there is a significant interest in discussing CM issues at a practitioner based level and in building a collections management community. As a result of the day a Jiscmail list was created which now has in excess of 400 subscribers. Initial plans are in place for a second practitioner led event to be held in the Spring of 2016.

This level of engagement supplements, informs and gives greater context to strategic level collections management discussions with Jisc, RLUK and SCONUL. The challenge now is to continue to support and build upon the community of CM practitioners identified at this event, and to utilise their experience and energy. There is now an opportunity to facilitate discussions between the organisational bodies and the practitioners, regarding the priorities and pressures CM managers face, and how the most effective support can be provided to support CM activities at a local, regional and national level.

Presentations from the day are available at  http://blog.ccm.copac.ac.uk/community/

Ruth Elder, Collections Management Specialist, University of York – 12.10.15

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