By @SimonCocking. Interview with Christopher Pressler University Librarian and Director of the Irish Modern Archives Research Centre | Dublin City University | writer and novelist

What is your background?

I am the University Librarian of Dublin City University and have also been University Librarian at the University of London and the University of Nottingham. I am a graduate of Queen’s University Belfast and a number of other universities and am now researching a doctorate on Ireland’s international relations in the mid-twentieth century at DCU. I’m a published writer and novelist and a member of the board of the Irish Writers Centre.

What is CONUL?

CONUL is the Consortium of National and University Libraries, the representative body of research libraries across the island of Ireland.

What is CONUL aiming to achieve with their new strategy?

CONUL is over 40 years old and this is its first stated strategic plan which is the product of two years of thinking and listening by the CONUL Board and the Irish research library community. The strategy aims to achieve a significant rise in the public profile of Ireland’s world-class research libraries and also a number of targeted projects and iniatives which will benefit researchers, students and the public.

Who will be able to access the resources held by CONUL’s member libraries?

Ireland’s research libraries are largely accessible by everyone to varying degrees as most have public admission policies in addition to their own core communities of students and researchers. CONUL is focused, as is the case with most library consortia, with extending access to research as far as possible.

What possibilities are you excited about?

The breadth and depth of Ireland’s research collections, and in particular its special collections is remarkable for a small nation. At the heart of the new strategy is the planned delivery of an Irish National Union Catalogue (INUC) where everyone will be able to search all the holdings in the island’s research libraries where made accessible. Additionally, there are significant international partnerships, those existing and those to be developed that will enable, through the clarity of purpose in the new strategy, Ireland to operate and perform on the global stage of world libraries.

Are there any specific examples of projects lined up as part of the new strategy?

The INUC will be a formidable resource for Ireland and those interested in Ireland around the world. A major shift in how we encourage the 1000 or so librarians working in our research libraies to work creatively and dynamically together through CONUL groups is also a driver for the new strategy. Ireland’s Memory, Ireland’s Discovery is the title of the new strategy and indeed the nation’s memory is the fuel to new discovery. Our combined libraries are its engine and sit at the heart of research, the experience of students and as part of the public engagement with the humanities and science.

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