Library Services as Partner: Bringing Students and the Public Together to Deliver Impact




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Purdue University



Peer reviewed



This paper discusses the creation of a permanent, centre for research and education in a UK university, open to the public and delivered in collaboration with its students and the public. Library Senior Leadership Team presented a business case to develop a new centre at De Montfort University an underutilised area on campus. This area contains parts of a fourteenth century collegiate church, once at the heart of medieval Leicester and was part of the earliest of the predecessor institutions of the University. Grounded in De Montfort University’s central objectives of serving the community and the public good, the proposals were developed by a range of participants to bring the present University’s 150 year history to a wider audience and to present the history of this important part of the city of Leicester to the public. A central tenant of the enterprise was that content should be generated by DMU students and public partnerships. De Montfort students worked with the library to develop designs for the centre as part of their studies. After its creation the centre has undertaken student collaborations that include additions to the space, such as ceramics. Collaborations have been undertaken with the local community including exhibitions with the health authorities, the police and the local football club (Leicester City). We work closely with the local council on joint public exhibitions and collaborative projects, one example of which is “Heritage Sundays” where we open together and deliver informative sessions for the public. This has seen a continual rise in our visitor numbers and a welcome for thousands of new visitors since first opening the doors. The centre has become a valuable asset for the institution on a number of levels and has been used as a test bed for developing and evaluating innovative interpretation techniques and methodologies, especially during covid, by various groups within the university enabling De Montfort to use its heritage to research into design development.



university, libraries, partnership, heritage


Brine, Alan and Wheelband, Elizabeth. (2021) Library Services as Partner: Bringing Students and the Public Together to Deliver Impact. Proceedings of the IATUL Conferences. July 15 2021.


Research Institute