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Meet the Shortlist – Jimi Mitchell

Scotland's library and Information Professional of the Year Shortlist. Jimi Mitchell, 2023. CILIPS blue and grey logo. White paper background with mixed blue confetti around the outside.

Jimi Mitchell, Senior Library Administrator at the Sir Alex Ferguson Library, Glasgow Caledonian University. 

Compared to some of his colleagues, Jimi is relatively new to the world of libraries, although he has always relished the opportunity to network and share best practice with others in the sector. Most recently, he organised a User Experience training session with Andy Priestner for his institution as well as other external groups through the SALCTG network, including The National Library of Scotland and Robert Gordon University. This was an extremely useful exercise through sharing best practices with peers. Off the back of this, Jimi has begun work on setting up a UX network in Scotland, where we can continue to share ideas, new initiatives in the field of Library UX and support each other in what can be an elusive field.

Jimi’s passion for shared best practice is shown in how he seizes any opportunity he can for training and development outside of his institution. Most recently, he attended a CILIP session on Libraries of Sanctuary as they are hoping to take this forward as part of their commitment to help out community. This is something Jimi is particularly passionate about in Glasgow as the recent worldwide crises have generated a huge number of New Scots facing incredible challenges who need support. He firmly believes that as an academic library it is their responsibility to engage with their community and support their public counterparts, especially in the wake of massive budget cuts and even closures. He is working closely with a group called the Darfur Foundation who support New Scots in Glasgow. With them Jimi will be devising and running a welcome event in GCU as part of Refugee Week this summer. Further to this, for his Master’s dissertation he will be creating a Community Engagement Toolkit for academic libraries to support their local counterparts.

Jimi has always been extremely passionate about developing new ideas and looking for ways to innovate in his library. One of the biggest things Jimi has done this past year is create a community recording studio. Despite being an academic library, SAFL is actually a completely public building with no barriers to entry, actively encouraging community engagement as part of their mission as The University for the Common Good. Jimi received funding from SLIC to build this studio as a way for anyone in the community, be they students, staff or members of the public, to be able to use industry standard recording equipment for free. Jimi reports that he is thrilled that in the short month it has been open they have received 24 registrations of interest ranging from oral history projects, audio fiction, podcasts and music. This includes interests from professional bodies such as CILIPS and Aye Write. This shows clearly that there has been a dearth of opportunities for the community to get creative due to financial barriers. Jimi is so pleased that he has been able to break down that barrier in Glasgow. Whilst particularly hoping to engage with marginalised voices who are so often unheard in the media, and yet usually have the most profound stories to tell. He will be working with the Darfur Foundation and Romano Lav to bring them into the space and encourage them to get involved.

In the next year Jimi is endeavouring to share his practice with other libraries and show how easy and important it is for them to create their own resources. Podcasts in particular could benefit from the information profession as there are no metadata standards for a massive source of information. He is working on a model which should hopefully begin to rectify this. This year, Jimi was thrilled to hear that two pieces of his coursework were being published. His blog on how academic libraries should support their public counterparts was published on the CILIPS New Voices blog and his annotated bibliography on resources to support New Scots was published on OneHE Mindsets. This felt extremely rewarding for Jimi and he has received lots of great feedback on the resources already from his colleagues.

He also enjoyed attending the CILIPS West Branch AGM hosted at GCU earlier this year, whilst getting to share some of the initiatives he helped develop such as the Relax and Renew wellbeing space. Also, as mentioned before, Jimi applied for funding from SLIC as part of the Innovation Development Fund last year and will hopefully be presenting the studio at their showcase.

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