Our thanks to Irena Valouchova, Assistant Librarian at Herbert Smith Freehills LLP, who kindly accepted to review the SLA event in London that took place earlier this month.



John Peters talk was about principles for responsible business, from-nice-to-do to must-do. Mr Peters is the director of GSE Research Ltd and he explained the role of Greenleaf Online Library, which has been active since the ‘90s. Their partners are Oxfam and the UN. The library works on subscriptions, outright purchases, tables, smart phones, e-readers and they are developing an app. He mentioned that we need to learn to collaborate instead of competing. It is not just about minimising ecological impact. He also announced the launch of the Sustainable Organisation Library (SOL) in 2015.

Heather Marshall explained the work of Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) The University has two campuses in the UK, in London and Glasgow. They also have a partnership with “Grameen” in Bangladesh for impoverished women. They teach them how to become nurses and in Oman where they teach engineering.

Heather focused her talk predominantly on the Glasgow area. Given the deprivation of that area (one in four is socially deprived), the university has been engaged with various projects. One of them is “College Connect” where school children are involved in running the library and its collection development. This scheme increases their self-esteem, literary and entrepreneurial skills.

She also outlined the procurement policy in Scotland that is very different to universities based in England and Wales. The university offers open access, overnight download, on-site access and it also lends laptops. Heather’s point of sustainability is accessibility (teaching information research skills), discoverability, functionality and duration of process. GCU also works together with public libraries. Since GCU teaches lots of vocation courses, it also has partners with the private sector.

Val Lowman has been working for Lend Lease for a long time. In 2007 she founded Be Onsite, a spin-off of the company. She was talking about building the Blue Water shopping centre and the challenges encountered with its construction (the centre was coincidently being built when James Bulger was abducted). She persuaded the centre to recruit 50 serving prisoners. All of them were able to save up and none of them have re-offended since. Lend Lease also employs ex-offenders. Mrs Lowman is, also, the author of the book “Socially Responsive Organisations and the Challenge of Poverty”.

Overall, it was a very nice evening and we all agreed that we can offer lots of our skills to the disadvantaged or less fortunate.