STM Case Studies

STM Case Studies

Taking a scientific approach

The Library's aims to bring the world's knowledge to people from a variety of backgrounds. Our Science, Technology and Medicine Relationships Team promotes the research value of our collections to the scientific community.

The team developed a number of approaches that helped scientists to understand the extent of our collections, and enabled the Library to gain a better understanding of scientists' needs. As well as organising events at the Library to enable scientists to debate contemporary scientific topics, they also created a series of case studies on scientists who'd used the Library's resources to support their research.

The case studies

So far, four STM case studies have been developed. They vary from a volcanologist using manuscripts dating back to the 1700s to identify eruption patterns in volcanoes, and a scientist using anthropological texts and rare scientific journals to study lactase persistence, to a popular children's science writer studying climate change and the polar ice caps.

One particular success was a study of the Pool Frog in Norfolk. Using a range of Library resources - including recordings of bird calls in the sound archive that had the frog's calls in the background - scientists were able to confirm that the Pool Frog was a native species, closely related to Scandinavian Pool Frogs. When the Norfolk frogs became extinct, these research findings led to a Pool Frog reintroduction scheme in Norfolk in 2005.

The importance

It would be easy to tell scientists "we have X million books and Y million journal articles", but this wouldn't be particularly inspiring. Instead, we felt the best way to give scientists an idea of the extent of the collections was to bring them to life by illustrating how useful they'd been to individual researchers.

The four case studies we've produced so far not only show the value of our collections, but also demonstrate their breadth and diversity. They highlight to scientists that they can find everything they want under one roof - something that they can't find anywhere else.

The teams involved

Producing a case study involves a number of Library departments. The STM Relationships team work closely with the design team to develop the printed and online versions. The imaging team are involved to find the images we need for the leaflets, while we also involve the copyright team to ensure that any quotes or images are used correctly.

Our Reading Room staff have also been involved in helping us identify case studies that we may want to use. They develop close working relationships with Readers and often learn a lot about what individual Readers are researching. A number of Reading Room staff have given us leads on particular research projects that might lead to interesting case studies.