Frustrations and solutions for library outreach

Every so often you find a surprised visitor who enters our study room and says, “Oh! You have library?” to which with a sad sigh I respond, “Yes. We have about 9”.
Specialising in art, archaeology, anthropology, numismatics, conservation and scientific research from around the world, these libraries are available to the public. To be fair, each Museum department with public research facilities require a pre-booked appointment except the Anthropology Library and Research Centre. So, why do stories of readers being told that “there are no libraries at the British Museum. All our books are at the British Library” keep cropping up? 

Archiving artistic heritage in museums

Last November, I attended a conference for 'Unboxing the Archive: how Tate is transforming access to our artistic heritage' at Tate Britain. As I have started a new project on listing the Asia Department Archives in the British Museum (BM), considering the prospect of digitising such an archive has become an increasing thought.

A vast majority of the 20th-century objects in the BM collection have archival correspondence detailing how the object became part of the collection and related files to multiple exhibitions. Whereas the BM Collection Online Database holds the basic information about each object, their corresponding archival files demonstrate the processes and attitudes regarding acquiring art during the time period. This information is valuable to understand how collections develop and change over time and can help people trace family members connections to the BM. Therefore, it is unfortunate that this information is not readily available especially online. As Rosemary Lynch stated in her opening remarks at the conference:

Experiences transitioning to RDA

The British Museum has recently switched from Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules (AACR2) to Resource, Description and Access (RDA) in a hybrid-catalogue intervention.

Alan Danskin, Collection Metadata Standards Manager at the British Library recently presented to the Association of Pall Mall Librarians on the introduction of RDA. He pointed out that for many; RDA was created due to the perception that AACR2 was not fit for purpose. This is because it has not adapted well to recent changes in user expectation and technology where information in presented on different platforms such as the web. Therefore, managing the cataloguing environment has become increasingly complex and the metadata captured needed to change.
There are free online training materials and webinars available for learning about RDA. However, the main issue with implementing RDA in small libraries or museums is that there are not many training courses or advice available. I have only come across the ‘RDA in a day’ course offered by the BL. As many will know this became very full, very quickly! Alan stated that the course was success and would run again possibly this year.

Ranganathan, India and LIS education

In July, we had a visiting academic and Assistant Professor from the University of Calcutta, Dr. Susmita Chakraborty gives a talk on LIS education in India.

History of LIS education in India 
During the 1950s, there were only 370 colleges and 27 universities. This has risen to around 719 universities in March 2015. Punjab University was the first institution to have a course in Librarianship during 1915. Since then LIS education has grown in popularity and 79 universities (divided by state, private and some deemed to be institutions) had LIS courses in 2001. For example, the Bengal Library Association have Bachelor and Master's degrees running for 1-2 years and a 5 year integrated MLIS. Further education courses also exist at PhD level across Indian institution along with MPhil degree. This level in education is in between a Masters and PhD level and not currently available within the UK. Although, in 1950 only 2 PhDs were awarded, further research in LIS has seen 345 PhDs awarded in 2008. The most interesting thing mentioned by Susmita was that there were refresher courses for LIS students which allows pass students to revisit certain topics in the early years of their careers when it is most needed.