Rob is a qualified librarian who joined the British Council in 1978 and 1984-88 was Head of Stock Management Section of The British Council Libraries Department with responsibility for provision of bibliographic services and automated cataloguing to over 100 libraries worldwide. He worked overseas as head of libraries, books and information services for the British Council in Singapore and Indonesia (1978-1982) and Egypt (1987-1989).
Since 1990 he has worked as an independent project manager, consultant and researcher, gaining wide experience of the library and information policy area and of technical and service developments in support of these, gradually expanding his expertise into ‘neighbouring’ sectors such as cultural heritage, Public Sector Information (PSI), eLearning and eGovernment, especially where the deployment of ICT is involved.
In the period 1991-3, he was the specialist consultant for libraries and information on Book Sector Studies funded by the UK government Know-How Fund for East and Central Europe in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic. He has also worked on library and information project preparation in the higher education sector funded by the European Union, World Bank, Asian Development Bank and DFID in countries such as Angola, Egypt, Jordan and Lao PDR and on project implementation in the schools sector in Pakistan, Romania and Sierra Leone. In 1995 he was team leader of a European Development Fund (DG VIII) feasibility study and project preparation mission for a 10 million ECU project to upgrade 17 Historically Disadvantaged Universities and Technikons in South Africa, subsequently implemented. He is currently leading a consultancy for the Namibian Ministry of Education to establish a national library strategy.
Within the EU R and D framework (FP3) he has managed or been a partner in a number of projects since FP3 including: DECIDE - Decision Support Models and a DSS for European Academic and Public Libraries, the CAMILE Concerted Action on performance measurement and EXCEL, in the area of metadata standards.
He has been closely involved with European research and development projects in support of the development of ICT-based service in local cultural institutions such as public libraries. Robert was instrumental in devising, managing and establishing the Public Libraries Development Programme (PLDP), a project supported by the PHARE Partnership Programme and the Open Society Regional Libraries Programme (1995-7) to develop model public library services with EU assistance in Cluj (Romania) and Pest (Hungary). PLDP established the human network in Central and Eastern Europe eventually to form part of the PubliCA network.
In addition to being a member of the PubliCA management board, Rob was a major driving force behind the PubliCA C&EE extension (FP4). He was the proposal writer and Project Manager of PULMAN, the successor Thematic Network (FP5) for public libraries, museums and archives operating at local level, which covered 26 countries in Europe and was Scientific Co-ordinator of CALIMERA, the Co-ordination Action to co-ordinate best practice develop a research roadmap for local cultural institutions under FP6, experience which has been applied specifically to the adult learning sector in the DILLMULI project under the Grundtvig programme (2006-8) where he has been responsible for creating a toolkit for policy makers and practitioners.
Between 1996-2000, he devised and managed ISTAR Networks a 2 million EUR project funded under the Regional Information Society Initiatives (RISI2) programme of DGV/DGXVI with partners in Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom. ISTAR piloted new public library services delivered through ICT to support regional economic priorities and is now becoming established as a sustainable service to others. He was also expert consultant to the LIGHT Operation, under Interreg IIIC, which established pilot ICT-based cultural services through public libraries in support of the regional development priorities of 5 regions of Europe.
During 2006-7 he worked as a consultant to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation the expansion of its Global Libraries programme in Europe and Asia.
In the field of Public Sector Information (PSI), under the EU e-Content programme, he was Specialist Adviser to the PSINet Preparatory Action on Public Sector Information throughout its duration in 2001 and subsequently Human Network Co-ordinator of EPSINet and EPSINet-CEE, the e-Content Accompanying Measures which supported implementation of the EU Directive on Re-use and Exploitation of PSI. Since September 2006, he has been Co-ordinator of the ePSIplus Thematic Network, which supported the process leading to the review of the Directive, under the eContentplus programme and its successor ePSIPlatform contract with the European Commission.
In the United Kingdom, he has worked on high-profile ICT implementation projects such as Seamless (the development of an integrated user interface to citizens' information), funded by the UK Library and Information Commission (LIC) and its successor extension to become a national service, under the NOF Digitisation programme. His work on audience research and monitoring and evaluation has been designated as an example of good practice in the area by NOF.
In recent years he has expanded his technical and domain portfolio to areas such as Semantic Web Services in eGovernment (through his work on the DIP Integrated Project in FP6 and computer games in eLearning (working on projects such as eMapps.com under FP6 and IL GRECO under the EU Grundtvig programme.
Rob currently leads on a number of the projects described on this site, including two, CARARE and EuropeanaLocal which are directed towards the contribution of content to the Europeana service under the European Digital Libraries Initiative.