Goldsmiths’ Library has a new person at the helm. Last month Marilyn Clarke was appointed the new Director of Library Services. Since Marilyn first joined Goldsmiths four years ago, she has been part of the team working on decolonising and diversifying the university’s collections and professional practices. Below she talks about this and plans for the Library to offer services again to the Goldsmiths community.
“First of all, I am delighted to have been appointed the new Director of Library Services. I joined Goldsmiths in 2016 as Head of Discovery Services, having formerly worked at both Imperial College, London and Senate House Library, where I cut my teeth as an on-the-job cataloguer.
“I had no intention of becoming a library worker, but I quickly realised that I loved academic libraries and being amongst a community of learners.
“Before actually joining Goldsmiths, my first experience of the institution was when I attended a drumming short course many years ago, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I recently attended a great comedy improvisation short course which was a lot of fun.
“Since joining Goldsmiths I have worked on the Liberate our Library initiative as part of the ‘liberate our degrees’ objective in the Learning, Teaching, Assessment Strategy 2017-2021. The aim of this is to decolonise and diversify our collections and professional practices in pursuit of greater representation of marginalised voices, through the practice of critical librarianship. This initiative also includes working alongside academic departments, supporting their own decolonisation efforts and working groups. The initiative is a major influencer in the library sector as well as being seen as an exemplar across Goldsmiths.
“In January, the Library co-led with Birkbeck, University of London and the University of East London, the Decolonising the curriculum: the library’s role conference, which attracted over 100 professionals from across the UK. I also spoke about this work at 2019’s ‘Decolonising Goldsmiths – mission impossible’ Black History Month event, where Sofia Akel launched her ‘Insider-Outsider’ report.
“Recently I led the procurement and launch of a new library management system, Symphony, to bring the Library’s backend operations into the 21st century, enabling the Library team to engage more effectively with new technologies both internally and externally. As part of the Discovery Services team I helped deliver the new discovery tool, LibrarySearch, and the popular laptop loans scheme.
“Beyond the Library, I am a member of the HR Equalities Committee (HREC) and a co-Chair of the Goldsmiths Race Equality Group (GREG). GREG has been actively engaging with the Warden’s Office, the Director of HR, and members of SMT to address the GARA commitments and the ongoing racial justice work, as well as establishing relationships with the Development and Alumni Office, Communications Department, and the newly appointed Dean of Students. I am also a member of the Anti-racism Training Working Group led by Dr Nicola Rollock, working toward mandatory anti-racism training for all staff to tackle institutional racism.
“I would like to say a huge thank you to the Library team for their hard work and dedication in supplying an excellent service to our user community. They are all a credit to Goldsmiths and continue to amaze me with their talents and creativity. Since lockdown they have successfully enhanced all our services, adapting to the new online learning and working environment, while simultaneously developing their skills to support learning and teaching.
“Over the next months, we will focus on supporting the delivery of ELearning as the new norm by: procuring more eBooks (availability and budgets allowing), sourcing more Open Educational Resources (OERs), scanning reading list materials (copyright allowing), providing academic skills support through workshops and 1:1s, and working side-by-side with departments. Everything we do will have parity of access in mind to take account of different learners’ needs.
“We are currently working towards a phased reopening of the Library, offering a limited set of services while ensuring a safe working environment and following all the current government guidelines. These initial services will be: returning books, scanning materials for reading lists, and setting up a click and collect service for print books. More news on this will be shared soon.
“Finally, as a Black senior leader in an HE and library sector, where there is very little representation of Black and People of Colour at this level, I would like to focus on changing this by exploring how the Library can work with local schools and the Careers Service to encourage young people to explore the range of career opportunities that libraries can offer.
“I am also a member of the CILIP (Chartered Institute for Librarians and Information Professionals) BAME Steering Group, established last year to support the advancement of BAME professionals in the workforce and the development of diverse library, knowledge and information services. The CILIP BAME Network is an important step in addressing the under-representation of Black and People of Colour within the national library and information workforce which identifies as 96.7% White.”