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Library Services receive 19 prizes at Sustainability Awards 2019

By Benjamin G M Meunier, on 19 July 2019

Library Services collected a record array of awards at the Sustainability Awards ceremony 2019, which was held on Thursday 18th July. 19 Library teams participated in the Green Impact scheme this year, and both Richard Jackson (Sustainability Director) and Fiona Ryland (Chief Operating Officer) commended the department for such a strong demonstration of commitment to tackling sustainability issues.

During the ceremony, Professor Geraint Rees (Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences and SMT Sustainability Champion) and Fiona Ryland presented the awards to colleagues from all parts of UCL for sustainability achievements.

The full list of awards to Library Services sites, below, is testament to the outstanding work of Green Champions and colleagues throughout the department who are taking the initiative to reduce waste and energy consumption and to promote a sustainable environment at work. I am grateful to the Library Sustainability Committee, who have overseen this work, and particularly to Sarah Lawson and Noel Caliste who helped to coordinate the substantial collective submission from Library Services to the Green Impact assessors. Many of our sites were audited by the Green Impact team, and as Chair of the Sustainability Committee I have had the privilege of visiting sites myself to witness the huge amount of work which underpins these awards. I visited LASS Library last month, where in the past year the team organised events to raise awareness of sustainability, manage a flourishing collection of plants and even installed a bug hotel in the outdoor (naturally!) courtyard at Chandler House. I know that there are many other great initiatives in different sites and teams, and look forward to visiting the Bartlett Library in the near future.

Eastman Library Bronze
Main Library Bronze
Science Library Bronze
Central Library Services (department) Bronze
Student Centre Bronze
Queen Square Library Bronze
IoE Library Silver
Bartlett Library Silver
ICH Library (GOSICH) Silver
IoO Library Silver
Royal Free Library Silver
Senate House Library Silver
IoOrthop Library Silver
Ear Library Gold
Cruciform Library Gold
Institute of Archaeology (IOA) Library Gold
SoP Library Gold
LASS Library Gold
Wickford Stores Gold

Many of Library Services’ Green Champions attended the Sustainability Awards ceremony on 18th July



Congratulations to all the staff who were involved in Green Impact 2019. Each of these awards requires significant work and dedication to obtain the necessary credits. I would like to congratulate all the Green Champions and especially commend our 6 teams who achieved “Gold” this year: Wickford, LASS, SoP, IoA, Cruciform and Ear.

This is important work, which demonstrates some of our values (“empowering our staff and students” and being “eco-friendly”). Sustainability, and specifically our performance in Green Impact, is a key part of delivering the Sustainable Estate KPA in the Library Strategy.

To find out more about the work we are doing, including a Sustainability Reference Guide for the whole department, we have a Sustainability page on LibNet. Do get in touch if you would like to get involved!

Senior Library Assistant Conference 2019

By Jonathan W M Siah, on 17 July 2019

On the 19th of June I attended the SLA Conference organised by M25 Libraries at The Museum of London. The theme was the increasingly hot topic of ‘wellbeing’ and the first session began with a triage of presenters from Middlesex University. They talked us through some initiatives designed to have a positive impact on staff and student wellbeing in response to recent surveys. Then they honed in on discussing the importance of saying “no!” to things; detailing how it’s ok to disappoint if you really can’t manage what is being asked of you, and that this is quite different from letting someone down, so you shouldn’t feel that you are. This opening session ended with the ‘button exercise.’ Essentially, they put lots of buttons in the middle of each table, and we had to try and represent our working relationships (organisation, colleagues, students etc.) with the buttons. My cryptic offering is pictured below.

We then had a tour of the library, in which the librarian told us about their impending move to a new site, which will be in one of the long-abandoned halves of Smithfield Market. Apparently it’s all proving quite a challenge as the Thames Link goes directly underneath; but plans are in motion for there to be a viewing area inside the museum, so you’ll be able to see living pieces of history whizz by on their way to the boardrooms of the City, coffee cups and newspapers in hand, faces pressed against the windows.

The librarian then showed us some gems from their collection, including a book supposedly owned by Elizabeth I.

After a generous lunch spread we had some free time to explore the museum, although I didn’t get much beyond the Jurassic period before having to come back for the afternoon sessions. During which, I presented on the topic of ‘wellbeing and walking’, describing the various escapades I’ve been lucky enough to lead over the years and the self-guided walking maps we made at LaSS for the students this year, to encourage them to take a break during exams. I then wandered into talking about the idea of walking and getting lost, or meandering about, in order to break the rhythm of always walking from A to B and how this can be good for one’s mental health. It was a generous crowd and I recommend taking the opportunity to present at a CPD25 event if you get the chance.


Library Assistants from other universities also presented on the various activities and initiatives they have been doing in their libraries. These included fun stuff like bake-offs, but also practical skills such as debriefing with trained professionals after a big incident, especially with front line staff. There was time for questions and during this it was really good to share ideas and see that we were all working in a similar vein. However, it wasn’t without the usual elephants in the room trumpeting from time to time: workload, under-staffing, outsourcing, faulty IT systems, the increasing number of students with anxiety and depression, as well as complex issues such as self-harming, and the overwhelming burden of debt from day one etc., etc. All issues that are way beyond the scope of a Librarian or a Wellbeing Champion to deal with or to change, and it was good to be reminded by the CPD25 facilitator that our main role is to signpost to relevant services and to continue to strive for culture change within our institutions. That said, one could tell from the tone of the discussion, that if these issues are not addressed, then they will continue to be part of the conversation about ‘wellbeing’ in higher education; and the longer they persist the more the enthusiasm nurtured by events like this SLA Conference will gradually vanish.

The day ended with a mindfulness session, which I can only describe as being like yoga but sitting down. Not that we had to stretch or anything. But the experience of your mind and body resisting the encouragement to slow down and focus on ‘your breath’, only that by the end, you find that you’ve completely given over to it and can’t remember why you were so resistant in the first place. Potent stuff!

Digital accessibility

By Robert Drinkall, on 11 July 2019

As you may already be aware, new legislation applying to the accessibility of websites and mobile applications was introduced in 2018.

A UCL Digital Accessibility Task and Finish Group has been established to co-ordinate the implementation of this legislation across UCL, and within Library Services a working group has been set up to develop a working plan for Library compliance.

More from the group will follow, but in the meantime, if you’d like to read up about what’s involved, please see ISD’s Creating accessible content web pages, which also outline face-to-face sessions you can attend.

For web authors who edit content for the public library website, please note that the Web Team is already checking for any accessibility issues as part of the web page approval process.

Launch of SMT Surgeries

By Rozz Evans, on 11 July 2019

The Library’s Senior Management Team (SMT) has been considering feedback from colleagues concerning the perceived lack of visibility of the team and a desire for a greater understanding of what the SMT does. We are aware that it would be helpful for colleagues to engage directly with by meeting and talking with SMT colleagues in order to raise issues of concern or suggest ideas for improvement.

As a first step we have refreshed the SMT information on LibNet and added more information about individual responsibilities as well as including photos and contact details. Feedback on the revised information on LibNet is welcome.  We have made sure that the last three months of minutes from SMT’s monthly meetings are available and will continue to ensure these are up-to-date.  Notes from earlier meetings are available on request from Noel Caliste, who is Paul’s Executive Assistant (n.caliste@ucl.ac.uk).

SMT have also decided to set up a series of Surgeries, modelled on those offered by MPs to give individuals and small groups the opportunity to meet members of the SMT face-to-face and raise issues of concern.  At least two members of SMT will be present at each surgery. This will be a pilot, and we will be asking for feedback from colleagues throughout the pilot so that we can see if this is something that is useful, or whether there is a better way to improve two-way communication.

Where possible, Surgeries will be held in non-library spaces.  They are going to be held on different days and times of the week to enable as many colleagues as possible to attend.  They will be timed to occur in-between SMT meetings, and issues and feedback raised by staff at the Surgeries will be discussed at the next SMT so that staff can be assured that issues will be followed-up.

While the pilot Surgeries are all located in Bloomsbury, there will be the option to Skype or phone in.  If the pilot is successful, we will ensure that they are offered outside the Bloomsbury campus if there is demand.

The dates and times for the Surgeries will be publicised on LibNet as soon as they are available, along with information for booking.

Replacing Copac with new NBK Library Hub Discover

By Thomas P Meehan, on 8 July 2019

Further to my blog post of 5 February, Copac and a number of related services from RLUK and Suncat will no longer exist from 31 July 2019. They are due to be replaced by a new range of Library Hub services from Jisc, based on data within the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK). Please take note if you use any of the following services:

  • Copac
  • Copac Collection Management (CCM) Tools
  • RLUK record downloading (z39.50)
  • Suncat

There are three “Library Hub” services, the most important one for discovery being Library Hub Discover, which takes over from Copac and SUNCAT and should have similar coverage. UCL’s holdings are now in this service, although I am undertaking a number of detailed tests and would appreciate any reports of missing or strange-looking records on Library Hub. Updates should now be weekly. You can restrict any search to UCL only, by putting “held-by:ucl” at the beginning of any search, e.g. this search for social media books by Daniel Miller. This should be useful for when Explore is unavailable. Real-time availability is not available on Library Hub Discover, but is planned.

The RLUK MARC record downloading service will be superseded by Library Hub Catalogue, a web and z39.50 service. I am currently looking at getting this set up on Alma and will send further information to relevant staff when this is ready.

The third service- Library Hub Compare– is not yet ready but is intended to replace CCM Tools and the SUNCAT Serials Comparison service. Further details will be provided when available.

Please note that all three Library Hub services are still being described by Jisc as “pilot” services but with the imminent retirement of Copac in particular it will be necessary to update practices and documentation.

More information

Jisc have provided a number of extra pages with information about Library Hub Discover, including a general About page, a more detailed FAQ, and lots of search tips in a Help page.


Please let me know if you have any feedback, especially about how UCL’s data appears (or if it doesn’t). Jisc are also interested in getting feedback and you can fill in this questionnaire.

WHEN conference

By Gillian Mackenzie, on 8 July 2019

I am a member of the Astrea committee, the UCL network for women in professional services and recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Women’s Higher Education Network (WHEN) conference at 1-19 Torrington Place.

WHEN is multi-institutional, and is for women working in academia and professional services. The title and theme of 2019 conference was ‘Who am I supposed to be?’, and many of the discussions and workshops looked at labels that we give ourselves or are given to us by others, and the impact these can have.

Members of Astrea at the WHEN conference


The joint keynote speech was delivered by Professor Kalwant Bhopal from the University of Birmingham, followed by Yasmine Bouidaf, who works at UCL and is also the founder and CEO of the company Serious Datum. Professor Bhopal gave a powerful, thoroughly researched account on the experiences of women of colour working in higher education, which included alarming statistics on the low numbers of black and minority ethnic (BME) staff working at higher levels across UK institutions.   This included the fact that only 8.4% of professors across the UK are BME, with a total of 85 who are black, and only 26 of which are women. She suggested a number of ways forward, including drawing on existing networks of support and creating new ones; ensuring an inclusive sisterhood, where differences were recognised but similarities were also identified; and highlighting that failure to acknowledge racism and white privilege result in a failure to act.

Yasmine Bouidaf talked about her research, looking into some of the micro-aggressions women experience in the workplace, including seemingly ‘small’ behaviours which they do not necessarily report, such as being talked over or ignored in meetings. She looked to address unconscious biases, beginning by collecting data from women through interviews and surveys, and analysing the results. She then used the findings to develop a virtual reality game as an intervention which allowed users to experience gender discrimination in the workplace in order to understand what problematic micro behaviours feel like.

The day also included Pecha Kucha talks on the theme – who am I supposed to be – and a panel discussion, where subjects covered included being your authentic self, situational judgement and being labelled by ourselves and others. In summary, the panel were asked to give a few words of advice for conference attendees to take away to improve the world we work in, which were as follows:

  • Call it out
  • Don’t second guess yourself
  • Adopt a tone which doesn’t isolate yourself
  • Unpick your stories and find your power
  • Use your difference as a super power
  • Insist on yourself, never imitate and do it with power

WHEN conference panel

Over lunchtime, I also made use of the career surgeries being offered by Perrett Laver, where we could access short-but-sweet, personal recruitment advice, and in the afternoon, I attended two workshops – Overcoming imposter syndrome with Dr Terri Simpkin, and Embracing your identity with Alice Chilver.  In the first workshop, I learned about the ways imposter phenomenon can affect me at times, and the session also highlighted how this could impact others I work with at UCL, particularly in my role as a line manager.

WHEN imposter phenomenon session with Dr Terri Simpkin

Embracing your identity was an extremely ambitious, illuminating workshop, which invited us to think about the high and low points of our careers, and map a timeline as a means to identify patterns which helped to reveal more about our personal priorities, interests and strengths.

The WHEN conference was an inspiring, motivating day, full of interesting discussions, advice and practical sessions, and gave me the opportunity to learn from others and network with colleagues across UCL and other HE institutions. You can find out more about WHEN here, and if you want to know about UCL Astrea events and news across UCL, you can sign up for the Astrea mailing list. We’d love to see you at an event soon!


Claim your cash back : iExpense process

By Sandra I Enwesi, on 2 July 2019

Ever had to travel to another location for training but have paid from your own pocket? How many times have you needed to claim back for some money but didn’t know how? Have you logged into Myfinance and proceeded to submit a claim but halfway through the process confusion strikes and you abandon it altogether, what in the world is a project code I hear you say? Why won’t it let me?

We at library Finance get emails daily from library staff asking for guidance when it comes to claiming back expenses on iExpense and in a recent survey run by the library finance team, out of 75 responses, we found that 14% used iExpense 5 or more times in the past year, 7% have had claims but don’t know how and 10% of you found the process extremely difficult.

This is why we the library finance team have decided to run a help session  to help staff with iExpense, this would cover the major aspects of how to raise an iExpense claim this could be seasons ticket loans, expenses , travel fares etc.

This session would be run by Jean Munroe, she will be on hand to answer any questions relating to iExpense, so you are encouraged to come along , bring your question or issues and we would do our best to iron these issues out.

If after the session you still find it unclear or daunting, there would be a drop in half a day session where you will be assisted by a member of the finance team with your claims.

The date and time would be communicated within the next couple of weeks, so watch this space!


Library Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Champions shortlisted for Professional Services Awards 2019

By Benjamin G M Meunier, on 25 June 2019

The UCL Professional Services Conference took place yesterday (24 June) to celebrate the contribution staff make to UCL, showcasing the work we do,  working across multiple departments and carrying out various roles. As part of the Office of the Vice-Provost (Research), Library Services makes a strong contribution to the work of professional services across UCL. Library Services was invited to participate in the conference and a number of colleagues attended the event.

A highlight of the conference was the ceremony for the UCL Ways of Working Awards. Over 200 nominations were submitted from across UCL central professional services, Vice-Provost Offices and Faculties. Library Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Champions were shortlisted for an award: ‘Ways of Working – Team Contribution to Achieving our Mission’. In this category, staff nominated colleagues who “are striving towards UCL’s future, demonstrating vision, a sense of ownership and innovation in their work”. The nomination was shortlisted in recognition of the team’s work on Customer Services Excellence workshops, as detailed below. In a very competitive field, the award ultimately went to Student Support and Wellbeing.  Although there were 5 Library Services entries submitted, this was the only shortlisted nomination. Congratulations to the Library CSE Champions: Noreen Beecher, Breege Whiten, Gillian Mackenzie, Vicky Robertson!

CSE Champions: Noreen Beecher, Breege Whiten, Gillian Mackenzie, Vicky Robertson

This team demonstrated excellent collaboration, communication and shared learning in the way that they work together.

In line with the Library Services Strategy 2019-22 and CSE accreditation bid, the Champions initiated, researched, devised, and carried out customer service excellence workshops for fifteen teams, seventy staff, and resulting in sixty-two hours of training. This work was voluntary and included running workshops in evenings and Saturdays to make training inclusive.

About the Customer Service Excellence workshops

Breege, Noreen, Vicky and Gillian volunteered to become Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Champions to change the culture of Library Services, and to help work towards the CSE accreditation as outlined in the Library Services strategy. They created a series of workshops for frontline teams, working collaboratively to research and devise workshops which were initially rolled out to a number of day time teams. After these proved successful they evaluated and re-wrote the workshop to deliver to Evening/Weekend (E/W) frontline teams.

The team moved away from traditional training to engage staff, and so chose to devise practical, discussion based workshops, which included a team presentation on customer service. The workshops included discussions of CSE experiences, and feedback for the Library handbook and Service Charter.

This process has resulted in fifteen teams, seventy staff, and sixty hours of training. The workshops have been inclusive for E/W teams, making training available within their shift patterns. The feedback and enthusiasm has been excellent, and we have started to see a culture change in how we carry out CSE within Library Services. The CSE Champions have also collated a significant amount of feedback, data and evidence for Library Services to use in the CSE accreditation process.

Creating a supportive Customer Service environment 

The work is linked to the Library strategy of achieving CSE accreditation. The CSE Champions have been committed to engaging staff with CSE, across multiple teams, sites and working patterns. The workshops have created a culture change within Library services, and also included transferable skills for staff, from presenting to collaborative project work. Teams have found the presentations enjoyable, as they have been encouraged to use their creativity.

The workshops have brought together the E/W team who wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to work together, enabling them to work collaboratively and build relationships. It has also inspired other Library Staff to provide training for teams which don’t usually work in day time roles. The team have been supportive to other CSE Champions and colleagues, helping others to facilitate, so that those less confident can take part. This training has not only benefitted Library Services, by providing trained staff and evidence for the CSE accreditation, it has also benefitted library users.

Achieving our mission

As voluntary CSE Champions, Vicky, Gillian, Breege and Noreen are clear about why this work is important. The Library Strategy focuses on “ensuring an excellent customer experience”, and the department as a whole has set the goal of achieving CSE accreditation. On an individual level CSE is imperative for the library user. Our CSE affects how our customers use the library, and also the feedback we get through student surveys. This project was immensely ambitious as the work was carried out on top of usual roles, and outside of the team’s own working hours. It involved communication and liaison, to help staff engage with the process. Logistically it was ambitious as it took work organising cover so staff could attend sessions. Throughout the process the four CSE Champions have remained united in their own vision of what they wanted to achieve, and continue to work on CSE with other managers. The team also understand that gaining the accreditation means that they will need to carry on updating their training, to keep staff skills current, to train new staff, and to help with re-validation.

The innovative practice of devising workshops in CSE has enabled us to review our practices for frontline teams. The CSE Champions recognised that there was a need to re-evaluate and open up the discussion, and by rolling out this training they have started teams and individuals on this process of self-reflection, in relation to service provision. Our long term aim is to help achieve CSE accreditation, and to make sure that customer service is consistently excellent. These workshops have ‘kick-started’ this process through staff engagement, discussion and feedback. The workshops have also created evidence which Library Services can use for the accreditation process. While the goal is to achieve accreditation, the long term success will be measured by student feedback.

As Champions, the team took responsibility for delivering CSE engagement and culture change, within the accreditation time frame. They have worked towards this by having a clear remit and framework for the workshops. Communication between the four Champions has been essential, and running workshops in the evenings and weekends has helped to make team members feel included.

The effectiveness has been achieved through dedication, integrity, commitment, support, and by going above and beyond, to ensure all have equal access and a voice in how we shape our customer service.

Peter Dennison, Head of Customer Service, said:

“Well done to Gillian, Vicky, Breege and Noreen! This work illustrates our Library Services values and will make a difference in the Library’s work towards formally securing CSE accreditation.”

Find out more about the UCL Ways of Working: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/human-resources/policies-advice/ways-working.

Mental Health Week

By Grazia Manzotti, on 19 June 2019

Dear Colleague,

I thought I would share what I did on Mental Health Week at the UCL GOS Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital for children.  As the Institute DEOLO, the Chair of a focus group on EDI Awareness , and the DEOLO representative on the UCL GOS  ICH  EDI committee Steering Group I led on Mental Health week (6th-10th May) and with the head of UCL GOS ICH HR  we organised an event per day for 3 days.

For the first day we  organised a Mental Health talk and invited the Head of UCL Well-Being and it was a very interesting  talk on what is available at UCL for Mental Health, we then   organised two yoga sessions for lunchtime by a qualified yoga teacher and lastly a well-being breakfast.  I spoke to the refectory and we had 70 tickers for a full English with a vegetarian option. It was open to all UCL ICH  and GOSH staff  and it was very popular we sold all the 70 tickets  in less than a week. UCL GOS ICH paid for it. It was £6 per person but it was very successful as we were all sitting together talking to people we don’t normally talk to. We received excellent feedback for all the activities,  but  the Well Being breakfast was the most successful. The Institute has now agreed to repeat it once per term.


Finding out more about systematic review support at UCL

By Iona F Preston, on 19 June 2019


Academic papers in a pile

Literature Road Mapping by Raul Pacheco-Vega via flickr.com (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

UCL staff and students are increasingly carrying out a specific form of literature review called a systematic review. Systematic reviews started out in health research and this is still the area where they are most common, but they are becoming increasingly popular in other areas such as education, social science, psychology, architecture, environmental science, business and more.

Across UCL libraries, there is already a variety of support and training for academic staff and students happening, but to get a clearer picture of systematic review support across the service, training for library staff, and interest in joining a community of practice around systematic reviews, we have designed a very short survey.

We’d be interested in hearing from all staff who provide any kind of support for staff and students, and you don’t need to be supporting systematic reviews to answer the survey. The survey closes on 19th July.
Access the survey.

If you’d like to find out a bit more about systematic reviews and the library service’s role, there is a Summer School session running on July 18th from 2.00-3.30pm, which you can book a place on by emailing libraryskills@ucl.ac.uk