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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 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


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

My name is Cliff Van Dort, and I am the Head of Library at the National Archives in Kew, Richmond.  I have been in post since 2017, so nearly seven years and worked as a librarian for over 20 years mainly in UK government libraries.  In a nutshell, I oversee the management and development of the TNA Library’s print and digital collections, the library team (3 Librarians) , library volunteers, and manage the library budget.  I also support the TNA research enquiry service and act as a Liaison Librarian for our Overseas and Military record specialists.  We provide a library service to TNA staff and the public – so essentially are a public, research, reference library for British History and genealogy.  I am also a civil / crown servant as we fall under the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport (DCMS).

What do you most enjoy about your job? 

The variety and opportunity to learn, not just about my profession but also about the subjects the library and archive cover – essentially British history!

What motivates you in your work? 

I enjoy helping people to achieve be it in research, answer queries, learning or CPD – the latter particularly for my staff – I get a lot of satisfaction in seeing them develop and reach their professional potential.

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

The M25 has provide access to a wealth of experience and knowledge, though mostly biased towards HE it has been very useful in my own development, professionally and personally in terms of networking and meeting new colleagues.  I am a Co-chair of the M25 Diversity working group which has enabled me to connect to like-minded professionals who are trying to improve things in the library world and allowed me to “work” outside of the government bubble.

What would it surprise people to know about you? 

I think I am an open book and often share too much anyway to be much of a surprise to people though people are often surprised to hear that I used to live and work in China.

Complete the sentence: If I wasn’t working in a library I would be…because…

If I wasn’t working in a library I would be in the care profession either as a medic or nurse or counsellor / advisor because I enjoy being of use to people, helping to try to solve problems, knowledge and insight or a helicopter pilot…maybe one day!

Cliff Van Dort, National Archives, April 2024


To read more SpeedMeet interviews see the links below!

Camilla Churchill, British Medical Association, Library and Archive Lead

Chloe Carson-Ashurst, The National Gallery, Library Assistant

David Archer, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Director of Library, Archive & Open Research Services

Birgit Fraser, Anglia Ruskin University, Assistant Director – Academic and Content Services

Stuart Hunt, University of Reading, Director of University Library & Collection Services and University Librarian

Sarah Pipkin, UCL – Outreach and Exhibitions Coordinator, Special Collections Library

Anna Gillis, Royal Veterinary College – Research Support Librarian

Rachel Geeson, Anglia Ruskin University – Assistant Director, Customer Services

Jennifer Domingo, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine – Library Assistant

Christopher Cipkin, Royal Holloway, University of London – Director of Library, Learning Support, & Culture

Emma Wisher, University of Essex – Assistant Director for User Engagement

Louise Ellis-Barrett, British Museum – Librarian Acquisitions and Projects

Paul Johnson, University of Surrey – Director of Library and Learning Services

Sara Burnett, Kingston University – Information Specialist 

Robert Atkinson, Birkbeck, University of London – Director of Library Services

Laura MacCulloch, Royal Holloway, University of London – Curator

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