The Oxford English Dictionary describes an expert as ‘someone who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area’. The structure of the E-BASS25 project is dependent on experts for its success. This is clearly stated within the application made to JISC. ‘Within an M25 Consortium project management framework, work will be carried out by a designated lead expert…and by other associate experts…leading specific workpackages’.

Experts, like talented footballers, are much in demand. Their expertise is well known in the community and their involvement in projects such as those funded by JISC can enhance reputations and broaden visibility.

In The Importance of Being Earnest, Oscar Wilde penned the following well know sentence. “To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”  Well, we at E-BASS25 have ‘lost’ three of our experts since the project began in August 2012. We are delighted for the individuals concerned: Anna Grigson moving from Royal Holloway to the post of Head of Collection Services Group at LSE Library; Anna Vernon from JISC Collections to become Licensing and Copyright Assurance Manager at the British Library and Rupert Williams soon to move from the Science Museum to take up a new post as Head of Library Services at UCL’s new international branch campus in Doha, Qatar.

There is no transfer window or deadline. We are in an open market. The window, already closing as the cold spell snaps, is the project deadline date, kindly extended until the end of February by JISC. Fortunately, the migrating experts have delivered much to the project and we have been able to act quickly with our partners to recruit new expertise.

There is no doubt that qualities of agility and flexibility are vital skills for project managers to have. They, their project teams and funders have to move quickly to fill gaps, reprioritise and provide cover. The rewarding thing is that in the library and information community, there is not only strength in depth and lots of expertise; there is also an almost innate willingness to adapt and engage with interesting projects such as E-BASS25.

Looking back at the E-BASS25 risk register, I see the following entry which has some relevance to the issue described above and where probability and severity are marked as low.

Project partners unable to provide required staff time or pull out of project




Assurance of participation has been provided by nominated partners. In event of withdrawal, a further Consortium partner could be enlisted.


A lesson to learn for a short-term project is not to underestimate the attraction of rare birds of passage and be alert to this risk.

John Tuck – 24th January 2013