Good morning everyone
Some time just before Christmas I posted on this group to ask for experience of setting up and running a materials library. At UWE, a keen member of the Faculty wants to bring all the material samples across the departments together and has been keen for the library to be involved. We want to support this but also had questions about the best location for the collection and how it will be used.
I had lots of useful responses (thank you) and visited Middlesex and London Met recently - thank you so much to the librarians there for such valuable visits. I have also been to the Institute of Making and Central St Martins last year, so hope I can summarise some of my findings for this list, so here goes.
Middlesex has wonderful special collections including costumes; over 4,000 samples including wood, glass, metal and plastics, ephemera, comics, artists books etc. The space is well designed using a variety of furniture including the Ikea Trofast storage system, which works really well.
Their collection is in a room on the art and design floor of the library and they are open at set hours of the day (staffed access only) as well as coordinating handling sessions for groups. The librarians delivered over 100 hours of teaching using the materials in 2015/16.
We had a chance to handle some materials and discuss them, as a group of students might, which was excellent at making us think about the purpose of the collection.
Middlesex also work with the Materials Council who give a lecture and workshops to Interior Architecture students every year.
See the subject guide http://libguides.mdx.ac.uk/c.php?g=322128&p=2155197
London Met has a wonderful collection too, focused on how students might use materials in their projects. Catherine Phillpotts recommended the list LIS- Materials & Products Collections. Their room is in the library and is open access during all library opening hours (not staffed), although the room can be booked for groups wanting to do handling sessions. We were impressed with the room layout, with a large table in the middle and samples stored around the edges of the room and the storage and display solutions.
University of Northampton has "a collection of materials in the library which used to be updated annually by RIBA. Unfortunately, they no longer offer this service and our collection is becoming very out of date."
SCIN have a material library and offer support in setting one up.
Coventry University are aware of some activity in the faculty led by mainly one person, but nothing organised yet in the library (good opportunity to do what we are considering doing?!)
Falmouth FX Plus set up a collection for Interior Design but the course was relocated and the collection went with them. Rachel Browning shared some very useful information about setting up the collection.
Several people mentioned the consultant Margaret Pope who delivers workshops and lectures, as well as assisting with setting up a materials library. Several people also mentioned various trade shows where samples could be acquired and networking done with various companies.
Some points that we are going to consider and discuss further here at UWE with our senior managers and with the Faculty:
• Weigh up pros and cons of collections being located and managed by the library, as opposed to within the faculty. Our visits showed that there would be a financial cost to establishing a collection (e.g. furniture) but the ongoing commitments and requirements would be around space and staff time.
• Some of the advantages to collections being in the library: access during long library opening hours; opportunity to embed materials literacy into our wider academic skills remit (librarians at UWE teach academic skills), which would be appropriate for the art and design students we support; staff development opportunities to be involved in the collection; potential to promote and embed our special collections into teaching and learning and thereby integrate subject librarians further into their programmes; special collection which would potentially attract students back into the library from remote sites (including students at other campuses who study architecture and product design).
• Consider what implications it would have to set up a materials collection in our library: financial, staff time, teaching commitments.
• Articulate what benefits the collection would have for the students and staff of the institution and how this fits with library strategy (a.g. academic skills).
I took copious notes and took photos on these visits so happy to be contacted if anyone would like to discuss materials libraries further.
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