Posts Tagged ‘Libby Tilley’

Boutique technique clique: critique

Posted on March 30th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

I was in Cambridge last week, for a symposium on ‘Personalised library services in HE‘, the brainchild of Andy Priestner and Libby Tilley, both of Cambridge University. They were the authors of a CILIP magazine article last year…

Priestner, A. and Tilley, E. (2010) Boutique libraries at your service. Library & Information Update, 9(6), pp.36–39

Homerton College, Cambridge 2…which explored the idea of the ’boutique’ library service: autonomous, small-scale (probably), human-scale (certainly), highly personalised, user-centric, non-homogenous, quality-over-quantity. C.f. the ’boutique’ hotel.

Quite a few of the presentations from the symposium are online:

I was there with my Jerome hat on (“radical personalisation”, remember?), combining my attendance with a meeting with Ed Chamberlain of the COMET project, but it was an event that was maybe aimed more at subject librarians, or library staff from small (campus, specialist) libraries. It wasn’t the sort of event I’d normally think of attending, and I was impressed by the enthusiasm and positivity of people’s ideas: it seemed like there’s a desire to celebrate what’s unique and worth cultivating in academic libraries, and which perhaps has been lost in recent years.

Twitter was getting a good hammering, as usual.

I’m not entirely convinced by the ’boutique’ idea as a workable model for academic library services… at my grumpiest, I’d characterise it as an unholy mixture of what we’re already doing anyway, what we could never possibly afford to do, and what technology will take care of with or without us… but it’s definitely a fresh way of thinking about libraries and how we might ‘sell’ them to our parent institutions.

In any case, I’m convinced just enough that I’m going to be putting forward a 1,000-word case study on how our own Holbeach Campus Library provides a personalised service to an less-than-usual group of library users, for possible inclusion in a forthcoming book on personalisation in HE libraries (to be published by Ashgate).

The ‘Personalised library services in HE’ blog is at:

See also Emma Cragg (Digitalist)’s blog post on the same event: “my default position has largely been to define [students] by their method of study; full-time, part-time or by distance. Now that we are all becoming more connected, more reliant on the Internet and used to the ease of access to information I think these boundaries are blurring“.