The two main speakers were Anne Rowlands (co-Chair of the national ARLG committee) and Annie Mauger (Chief Executive of CILIP). Both spoke about the background to the merger – Anne from the CoFHE/UC&R view and Annie from the CILIP view.
Anne spoke of the increasing overlap between the work of the two groups, especially now that Colleges are being given the opportunity to offer their own foundation degrees. Anne also highlighted the process that has been involved in creating the merger and the next stages that are required in consolidating the committee and regional groups. Alongside this she highlighted some of the current concerns with members. The national ARLG committee is split with an equal representation from FE and HE. My concern is how this translates into the regional committees and whether there will be any monitoring to ensure equal representation at local level. Anne also introduced the group’s mission: To engage with “professional” issues of interest to information professionals working in Further Education, Higher Education and Research Libraries and to shape all levels of academic libraries of the future. I have a slight problem with the end of the statement when it refers to all levels as this implies some form of influence over school libraries as well.
Annie spoke about the background of the merger in the context of the changes CILIP is going through. She praised both CoFHE and UC&R for taking the leap and being the ‘pilot’ on what she hopes will be a series of changes to the special interest groups to ensure that they are up to date and relevant.
The remainder of the evening consisted of two lightning talks highlighting examples of success stories from both the FE and HE sector. Genevieve Clarke from The Reading Agency and Stephen Wickens from Westminster Kingsway College began by showcasing the success of The Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge with a group of the College’s ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) students. We have run the Challenge in the past with ESOL students and a group with learning differences. Both have been very successful with the students enthusiastically engaging with the Challenge – it’s something we hope to run again. Genevieve and Stephen were followed by Ella Mitchell from the University of East London (UEL). Ella presented the award winning Info Skills site at UEL which supports undergraduates through identifying, finding, evaluating and referencing information. I think it’s an excellent site, not only visually, but also the way in which they support differing learning preferences by providing guides, videos, demonstrations and quizzes.
Overall I was a little disappointed by the first half of the event as I seemed to have different expectations to the actual purpose of the meeting. I was hoping to find out more about how the London and South East area of ARLG would be going forward but it seems that there still needs some work done on a national level before we can see what will be happening locally. I was also surprised by the low number of attendees. 17 attendees were listed and only 7 of them (myself included) weren’t a speaker or already involved on the ARLG London and South East Committee. It may have been the start time (5.30 may have been an awkward time for some), or lack of communication (although it was advertised on mailing lists), or simply lack of interest which would be sad.
I used to be a fairly regular attendee of the CoFHE LASEC (London and South East Circle) in 2008/2009 but for various reasons stopped going. With the merger I see a good opportunity to get involved again and look forward to seeing how ARLG develops in this region.