Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dame Lynne Brindley at Senate House

As mentioned yesterday, today I went to the Charles Holden talk with Dame Lynne Brindley. It started off with a brief talk about Senate house friends and the events that the did and what they paid for within the library. The Emma Robinson, former Senate house director formally introduced Dame Lynne Brindley and discussed the British Libraries 'cultural diplomacy'.
Brindley described the British library as 'one of the greatest libraries in the world'. She discussed how the BL supports research and makes around £22 to 25 million from the work it does for business, which is then re-invested in the library. The BL website also receives 75000000 hits per year we were told.

She then proceeded to discuss the shrinking world and 'the response to the challenges of the digital age'. In today's age Brindley discussed how users expect to get there information may vary, but many expect it electronically. She said the BL was 'responding to the challenges of the digital age.'

She briefly touch on whether libraries have a future. Although she felt they did, she did see that with the question being raised, that that shows it is being though about.

She then proceeded to discuss cultural diplomacy and the international engagement strategy, which has 5 aims:-

  1. Restoring and sustaining cultures.

  2. Virtual reunification's of collections.

  3. Capacity building.

  4. Professional leadership.

  5. Digital development.

She then discussed some of the important work the British library is doing. For example, the International Dunhuang project. This looks at the ancient silk road maps in Asia.

The she discussed the Codex Sinaiticus is one of the most important books in the world. Handwritten well over 1600 years ago, the manuscript contains the Christian Bible in Greek, including the oldest complete copy of the New Testament. This garnered 96000000 hits in its first two days. Other things were discussed such as Web Curator briefly, but it then proceeded to a Q & A. Oh what fun.

Question 1 was 'why is the BL so badly staffed, with rude staff'. Great opening question. Brindley responded that she would look into it and felt that they provided a service fairly well.

Question 2 was whether the BL might get less money from the Government in the economic downturn. She felt that it could be likely in the present economic climate.

Question 3 was the worst and made my blood boil. Some French researcher/academic who'd used the BL for 40 years felt people from Kings Cross and Euston used the BL as a waiting room, charging there phones up off free electricity of the BL. Excuse me, even if they do they paid for the BL via THERE TAXES. At least they were entering the library and using it. It was if mere plebs are not allowed to use it. Sorry dear, but we are not in the nineteenth century anymore. Brindley smiled, and said the library was open to the public (or as the academic would say, 'the great unwashed' in her mind).

Question 4 was whether the BL would join with google to digitalise the collection. She said no, as they had not 'been mindful of copyright....[but] the ambition is amazing.'

There were some more questions, but I must conclude. My conclusion is that Brindley came over as a great speaker and leader of are national heritage, with foresight and ambition (for culture and not personal) and it was really an interesting evening.

No comments: