To mark Trustees' Week, this week's blog features SLIC trustees. Alison Stevenson discusses how she got involved with SLIC and her experiences as a board member.
In her working life, Alison Stevenson has experienced the devastation of one of the country’s most iconic buildings – and the generous response of the library sector to the disaster. Both, she says, have proved useful lessons in one of her other roles, as a trustee of SLIC.
“You have to be there for the organisation in good times and in bad times,” she says. “The last few years working at the Glasgow School of Art have underlined the importance of that to me.”
Alison took up her position as Head of Learning Resources at the GSA in 2013, with her role covering the library, archives and collections, and learning technology. And during her time at the GSA, she became Chair of the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL), a position that entitled her to a place on the SLIC board in 2016.
“In the aftermath of the 2014 fire and the awful loss of the beautiful Mackintosh Library and its collections, I felt and saw the networks of support, nationally and internationally, among libraries. Libraries from all around the world came to our aid when we needed it most, offering books and other help. That experience strengthened my wish to be part of wider work beyond my own institution and contribute to those excellent networks.”
And the benefits of being involved in the SLIC board were again apparent following the second devastating fire at the school of art earlier this year.
“Everyone at the school of art – the staff and the board – has needed to work so hard after the second fire earlier this year, in the initial disaster response and the months since. I was very grateful for my engagement as a trustee on the SLIC board because it provided the opportunity to step into the breadth and richness of what’s going on across the Scottish library sector and appreciate how the different activities cross over, for instance, between academic, specialist, public and school libraries. That was a very welcome balance to dealing with the consequences of the 2018 fire.”
After stepping down as Chair of SCURL in the summer having served her period of office, Alison was formally elected to the SLIC board as an ordinary member at the annual general meeting last week. And she would encourage others to take up similar positions.
“It’s really valuable for boards to include people from a whole set of diverse backgrounds – with different experiences and skills – and also to regularly bring in new members so that the needs of the service and the service users are properly reflected. I would encourage anyone to consider putting themselves forward to sit on a board.”