The last 8 months has been a really tough time for all of us that work at UKOLN. In October last year a decision was made by Jisc, our main funders, to cease the core funding for 3 key services from July 31st 2013: UKOLN, CETIS and OSSWatch. Although UKOLN receives other funding – the DCC funding being the other main pot of money – this naturally has had serious consequences. Yesterday the majority of UKOLN staff members were issued with redundancy notices.
I am solely funded by the DCC so my position was questionable. The DCC have now had confirmed funding, all be it reduced, and the majority of my DCC colleagues will continue to have jobs. The plan is for UKOLN to carry on at a fraction of its previous size (it peaked at around 31 staff but now there will just be 4). Obviously this still leaves a lot of people in a very difficult situation. I don’t want to get political about all of this, I’ll leave that to my colleague Brian Kelly (see his post My Redundancy Letter Arrived Today), but this is a very sad situation. Over the years UKOLN has achieved so much in the area of digital libraries, metadata, preservation, information policy and more. Right now my thoughts are with everyone getting made redundant. I really hope they find work places that allow them to use the fantastic skills that they have.
So what about me? Well, I’m lucky enough to have a light at the end of my tunnel. I have accepted a position of project co-ordinator with the Open Knowledge Foundation. I’ll be working on their LinkedUp project supporting the adoption of open data by educational organisations and institutions. I am going to be working part-time for the OKF from the start of May while I see out my commitments with UKOLN and the DCC, I will then be full-timeish from the start of August. This is a really exciting (and scary!) opportunity for me. I’ve been with UKOLN for 13 years and I have learnt so much from my colleagues and peers. Yet at times being part of UKOLN and the University of Bath has felt a little like having a safety net that maybe I no longer need. Time to spring free!
The OKF is an active global network that works as a virtual organisation. There is no ‘epicentre’ or head office (though its registered office is in Cambridge) and the team of employees are distributed throughout the world. I can already see that they have some great ways of working and I’m sure there will be lots of fodder for this blog!
To finish I want to reiterate what I said to my colleagues last week. The 13 years I’ve had at UKOLN constitute a significant chunk of my life. The interesting projects and flexible working haven’t been the only things that have kept me in post. I’ve always been treated with respect and have made some great friends, on the whole UKOLN has been a very happy place to work. I believe I’ve been incredibly lucky to have had this experience, I know a lot of people who would rather not have the job they have. So as Dr Seuss says:
“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”