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History of LISU


The Library and Information Statistics Unit was set up in 1987, to continue the statistical work of CLAIM (the Centre for Library and Information Management). It was based within the (then) Department of Library and Information Studies at Loughborough University of Technology, and funded by the British Library Research and Development Department, for three and a half years in the first instance. Selection of historical publicationsThere was a Director, Dr�P�H�Mann, a secretary, and, from August, a research assistant. The first Project Head was Prof�A�J�Meadows, then Head of Department.

The Department, and the University, have undergone many changes; directors, researchers and project heads have come and gone; but LISU has continued to offer services and statistics to the library community throughout.

The first grant was awarded to continue the statistical series initiated by CLAIM; to add new publications which would be of value to practising librarians; to gather all kinds of statistical information as a reference source; to evaluate and work for the improvement of statistics gathering; and to offer help and advice.

In 1990, the BLR&DD renewed the grant for a further four years, and first Alan McDougall, then John Sumsion took over as Director. Under John's leadership the Unit broadened its output, with new work for academic libraries, and a regular survey of public library services to schools and children. Staffing increased, with the employment of a professional statistician for the first time, in addition to the researcher. This period also saw the unit move into the first of its "temporary" homes on the Loughborough campus.

Following John's retirement, the new Director, David Spiller, brought in new research projects and contacts, and the work – and reputation – of the Unit continued to grow. At this time, LISU was involved in the early development of the LibEcon database of European library statistics, and started applying its expertise outside the traditional library sectors, with work for UCISA (the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association). Core funding for LISU also passed from the British Library to the newly formed Library and Information Commission.

The fifth Director was Dr J Eric Davies, who increased the emphasis on research projects in the Unit's work, and raised its profile both in the wider UK information sector and internationally. During this time, the Unit grew to meet the demands being placed on it for reliable and independent research and metrics on all aspects of academic and cultural services.

The Library and Information Commission was merged into Resource (MLA) and LISU's core funding moved with it. The brief from the MLA became more focussed – on the main statistical series, maintenance of statistical databases and provision of an enquiry service. A change in direction at MLA led to challenges for LISU in continuing to provide the major statistical series on which many in the information sector had come to rely, and a new direction was indicated. LISU diversified its activities, reaching out into new sectors with a wide range of research and consultancy activities, collaborating not only with colleagues in the Department of Information Science and the University, but also with other universities and research organisations.

The current Director is Claire Creaser, a Chartered Statistician. LISU's funding now comes from a diverse range of sources, and with the continued support of the University, LISU and its work will continue to evolve and develop to meet the needs of the information profession.

In 2013, following a strategic review of activities in information management, information science and information systems, the University approved the establishment of a Centre for Information Management to be based in the School of Business and Economics. LISU and its staff moved to the new Centre in August 2013. LISU continues to engage actively in research and consultancy for information, academic and cultural services. The current range of activities continue, and the range of projects LISU is able to undertake is expected to expend, by drawing on the expertise of staff from the Centre, the School, and the University as a whole.

LISU is also at the heart of a new School-wide initiative - The Institute for Consultancy and Research Application (ICRA) which has been created to roll out user‑facing research across the range of topic areas within School of Business and Economics.


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