Library Robots, Economic Forecasts and cèilidhs

During the last week of April I spent a very sunny few days in Glasgow attending the European Business School Librarians Group conference, Library Connections:
Collaboration. Co-operation, Communication at Strathclyde Business School.
Day one got off to a good start with a welcome from Professor David Hillier, Executive Dean of Strathclyde Business School, in which he emphasised how central the Library is to the student experience and how it represents one of the main assets of the university.

We were also fortunate to have a presentation by John Scally, National Librarian & Chief Executive – who gave a presentation on Building sustainable relationships in a disruptive world. An interesting quote to come out of this presentation was:

‘Books are beginning to read people in a more careful way than people read books. Your Kindle is analysing all the time how you read. When it is connected to face-recognition algorithms it will be able to know the exact emotional impact of every sentence. Imagine what kind of stories you could create if you knew those things.’  Yuval Noah Harari, Historian and Author, 27 Aug 2016.

Definitely some food for thought there!

The presentation also gave a very interesting insight into the National Library of Scotland (NLS) and the way in which it collaborates with other institutions. The NLS aims to have a third of its collections in digital format by 2025.

Susan Ashworth from Glasgow University (established in 1451 so a really old University) explained how open access has resulted in a reconfiguration of library support for research publications at Glasgow and how this has resulted in managing new relationships internally. Susan also talked us through the UK Scholarly Communications Licence which Is being led by Imperial and which is based on the Harvard 2008 model (ask me if you’d like to know more).

One of the most useful features of this conference are the members sharing sessions and this year there were a number of interesting initiatives shared with members. These include the use of Excel Power pivot for the analysis of database usage statistics by ESADE Business School in Barcelona and the use of Web of Science InCites to create a document benchmarking academic impact across member institutions by BI Business School in Norway.
The representative from IE Business School in Madrid introduced delegates to Pepper, the latest addition to their library team – a robotic Library Assistant. We were assured that Pepper didn’t displace any library staff – please don’t try out any of her slightly bizarre arm movements at home.

One of the most engaging presentations came from Robert Ward, Editorial Director at the Economist Intelligence Unit. Entitled “Everything is negotiable” the world economy in the age of Trump it wasn’t strictly library related but was nonetheless very interesting. Here are some of the highlight observations Robert shared with us (you heard it here first… Sort of)

• We are going through a period of de-globalisation. The new order which will arise from this will heavily involve China
• The Eurozone is currently lead by Germany who are doing well. If Germany does well, Italy and France also tend to do well
• EIU think Greece will have to leave the Euro eventually
• China is expected to slow down in next few years because it is running on debt
• Expect modest recession in US round about 2019
• GB economy has been ok since Brexit because Germany is strong and we are exporting more and people are borrowing more. Things should pick up from 2020-2021 in the British economy
• China is growing at 5% and the US at 2%. Although China is currently about 20 years ahead of India, India is catching up…
• The world’s economic gravity is moving to Asia
He finished off by sharing the following table with us which represents an interesting forecast for the years ahead…

And finally, the conference dinner was held in the beautiful Ross Priory at Loch Lomond where we were piped in to a traditional Scottish dinner and finished the evening with a cèilidh – definitely one of the more challenging ways to carry out professional networking!


Annual conference for higher education librarians

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