RLUK Members meeting 2020
The post-Covid future of the research library

**This event is open to colleagues from RLUK member institutions and invited guests only**

The 2020 RLUK members’ meeting will explore the continuing role and perception of the research library in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. Through a series of speaker presentations and discussions, the meeting will consider how research libraries act as the labs for the arts, humanities, and social sciences, how long-held perceptions of the library have been challenged by the recent experiences of Covid-19, and some of the key areas of challenge and opportunity for the future.

The meeting will conclude with an exploration of the collective actions the RLUK community might take to meet emerging future challenges and opportunities through the creation of a new RLUK strategy for the period 2021-2024.

Registration information

Colleagues will need to register individually for each session – links are provided below. The afternoon session on Thursday 5 November is open to all and there is no limit as to the number of people that may join per member institution. The sessions on Friday 6 November are more interactive, therefore we will be placing a limit of two people per member institution. In the event that registrations exceed this limit we will consult with formal member representatives.

Members Meeting 2020 programme

Thursday 5 November

15:00 – 17:15 – Library as lab: the role of the research library in supporting the arts, humanities, and social sciences

This session will feature the following speakers:

Christopher Smith, Executive Chair, AHRC – details to follow


Julia Black, Strategic Director of Innovation, LSE, and Nicola Scally, Director of LSE Library – details to follow

Professor Julia Black CBE FBA is Strategic Director for Innovation at the London School of Economics and Political Science.  She is currently leading on the implementation of the LSE’s 2030 Strategy, on LSE’s entrepreneurship and commercialisation activities, and remains a Professor in the LSE’s Law Department. Her primary research interest is in the dynamics and legitimacy of regulatory regimes, with a specialisation in financial services regulation and in the regulation of risk.  Julia is an external member of the Prudential Regulation Committee at the Bank of England, which is the board of the UK’s banking and insurance supervisor, and an external member of the SONIA Oversight Committee, also at the Bank of England.  She is also Senior Independent Member on the Board of UKRI, and a member of the Board of the Courtauld Institute of Art, and a member of the Council on Science and Technology.  She was recently appointed as the 31st President of the British Academy, a role she will take up in July 2021.

Nicola Scally is Director of LSE Library and the Librarian of the British Library of Political and Economic Science, which includes the Women’s Library. Nicola’s career has focused on leading change in libraries in order to meet the demands of a digital world, with roles at the British Library, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Imperial College London. Nicola has contributed to a number of national and international initiatives in support of evolving the role of research libraries and she has served as Chair of Research Libraries UK from 2017-2019.


The hidden REF and libraries in the humanities lab – James Baker, Senior Lecturer in Digital History and Archives, University of Sussex

In this talk James Baker will introduce ‘The hidden REF’, a competition that recognises all research outputs and every role that makes research possible, and use the aims of the competition to reflect on his experience as libraries and librarians as partners in digital humanities research.

James Baker is a Senior Lecturer in Digital History and Archives at the University of Sussex and at the Sussex Humanities Lab. He is a Software Sustainability Institute Fellow, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and his current major research projects include the AHRC funded ‘Legacies of Catalogue Descriptions and Curatorial Voice: Opportunities for Digital Scholarship’. Prior to joining Sussex, James held positions of Digital Curator at the British Library and Postdoctoral Fellow with the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art. He is a member of The Programming Historian Editorial Board, a member of theLIBER Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage Working Group, and a committee member for The hidden REF.

Register for the library as lab session

Friday 6 November

10:00 – 12:00  – The position of the library

This session will explore the changing perception of the research library within its institution and amongst its users. The Covid-19 crisis revealed a number of pre-existing perceptions of the library amongst some users, and the close association between the physical library building and the services that it offers. The pandemic revealed the strength of the library’s digital services and collections, the agility of library processes to adapt to an online-only environment, and the diversity of the library’s role within its institution. It also revealed the need for enhanced advocacy for the library’s work, particularly around its digital collections and services, amongst some users and within its institution. This session will immediately be followed by the lunchtime social.

**Due to the interactive nature of this session there will be a limit of no more than two persons per member institution to attend**

12:00 – 13:00 – Lunchtime social

Members are welcome to join us in one of our networking breakout spaces during the lunch break:

  • RLUK book club: what are you reading at the moment?
  • Coffee shop conversation: in the RLUK virtual coffee shop, sit down, relax, and chat (with no agenda)
  • In the stacks: research library issues discussed
  • Covid-free zone: a place to come together without any reference to C-19.
Register for the position of the library session

13:00 – 15:30 – RLUK strategy consultation

RLUK’s current strategic plan, Reshaping Scholarship, comes to an end in 2021. This session provides an opportunity for members to help shape RLUK’s main priorities and areas of focus for the next strategic period. Delegates are encouraged to familiarise themselves with RLUK’s current strategy, Reshaping Scholarship, ahead of this session.

**Due to the interactive nature of this session there will be a limit of no more than two persons per member institution to attend**

Register for the strategy consultation session