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M25 SpeedMeet

Welcome to M25 SpeedMeet. Every month we meet someone working in an M25 member institution and ask them to tell us a little bit about themselves.

One of the three strategic themes of the M25 Strategic Plan 2019-2022 is connecting and collaborating through our network. Our aim is to provide a regional network whose members offer multiple perspectives that can inform decision making, and facilitate opportunities for networking and joint working on shared issues. What better way to do this than to meet?

If you’d like to feature in the M25 SpeedMeet, please contact m25libadmin@london.ac.uk.

Who are you, where are you based and what do you do? 

Hi, I’m Dr Laura MacCulloch and I am the College Curator at Royal Holloway, University of London. I look after the art collections here at the College ranging from the internationally important collection of Victorian paintings given to the College by its founder Thomas Holloway to the less well-known but significant collection of art created and collected by the female artist Christiana Herringham. We have a wonderful collection of twentieth-century art including works by John Nash and Dame Laura Knight and I look after 3D items related to the college’s history such as the umbrella held in 1886 by Queen Victoria as she opened Royal Holloway, one of the two colleges which merged in 1985 with Bedford College to form the present university. 

What do you most enjoy about your job? 

The variety! I am a bit of a ‘jack of all trades’ and I act as curator, registrar, documentation manager, education officer and lecturer. Most recently I have been focusing on going digital and have learnt to run social media accounts and create digital events and resources. It’s been satisfying building up that part of our website and I’ve enjoyed learning new skills. I also love the teaching elements of my job and being able to pass on my curatorial skills to the next generation through teaching, running workshops and supervising our great team of student volunteers. 

What motivates you in your work? 

Being a curator is a vocation for me. The need to look after historical objects and works of art and to find ways to get people to engage with them is a very strong urge which I have had since I was a teenager. I took a slight detour after university but the pull to work with objects was too strong and I realized being a curator is what I really wanted to do. 

How has/can the M25 Consortium support you in your career? 

I am very keen to get to know other curators working in the M25 Consortium libraries and to create a network to share experiences and knowledge. Working within bigger institutions can have its challenges especially if you are part of a small department so knowing that there was a network of curators out there who might be working on something similar or have found a new way to get visitors engaged would be wonderful. 

What would it surprise people to know about you? 

I lived in Japan for two years after graduating from university. I taught English in a variety of Japanese state schools and found a real love for Japanese onsen, hot springs. Every winter my bones ache for them!

Complete the sentence:
If I wasn’t working in a library I would be… a post-natal doula because… of my experiences having my daughter I am passionate about helping to support mothers in the early days. I am looking forward to starting to volunteer again at a breastfeeding drop-in once it reopens this month because I remember what a tough time it can be at the start. 

Laura MacCulloch, RHUL, May 2021

To read more SpeedMeet interviews see the links below!

Rowan Williamson, UAL – Associate Director of Library Services and Support

Frances Willis, National Art Library at the V&A – Assistant Librarian

Robin Armstrong Viner, Courtauld Institute of Art – Head of Library Services

Adam Edwards, Middlesex University – Library Liaison Manager

Linda Coombs, Buckinghamshire New University – Library and Learning Resources Manager

Liz Pinel, Royal College of Nursing Library and Archive – Customer Services Manager

David Allen, Royal Society of Chemistry – Librarian

Russell Burke, LSHTM – Assistant Librarian

Verity Allison, St George’s, University of London – Journals and E-Resources Librarian