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The Director’s View: New reporting line for UCL Library Services

By Paul Ayris, on 15 November 2016

The role of UCL Library Services in UCL 2034

The Library Strategy lays down that our Mission is to ‘Provide an information infrastructure to enable UCL’s research and education to be world class’. Through its professionalism and concentration on the ‘User Experience’, the Library does just this.

The Dome, Wilkins Building, UCL

The Dome, Wilkins Building, UCL

Nonetheless, UCL continues to improve its service offering and to introduce changes to support that development. On Monday, 14 November 2016, UCL introduced a change to the reporting line of the Library better to reflect the Library’s Mission as an academic support Division.

With immediate effect, the Library has been moved from UCL Professional Services to report to the Vice-Provost (Research). As Director of Library Services, I have been honoured with the additional role of Pro Vice-Provost , with a remit to:

  • develop UCL’s scholarly communications offering, building on the current successes of the Library’s Open Access activity, UCL Press and our research data management offering;
  • continue the Library’s activity in collection management and collection building, in both paper and digital formats; and to look for collaborations with other collections, both in UCL and further afield in London;
  • The Director of Library Services will continue to be an ex officio member of the UCL Senior Management Team

These changes reflect the success of the Library Strategy and the great visibility that our facilities and services have across the whole of UCL. They underline the strong, historic links between the Library and UCL’s activity in teaching, learning and research.

We will continue to enjoy collegial links with UCL Professional Services. I have been asked, for example, to carry on as co-chair of the Organising Committee for the UCL Professional Services Conference in February 2017.

These developments are not related to the TOPS programme as such, which nonetheless continues to be discussed across UCL. UCL planning will continue throughout the whole of 2016/17, and it is too early to be clear what shape TOPS will take institutionally.

I will continue to post news about this week’s change as the role develops. The Library is well placed to deliver on the agenda which has been offered to us. I look forward to working with colleagues to make all this a reality.

Paul Ayris

Pro Vice-Provost and Director of UCL Library Services


7 Responses to “The Director’s View: New reporting line for UCL Library Services”

  • 1
    Robbie Lumsden wrote on 15 November 2016:

    Thanks for the update. I appreciate that this early days for this change, but would it be possible to have an update about how this would affect library staff’s day to day work? I think a lot us appreciated our place in Professional Service – such as when the Main and Science Issue Desk team won the award at the conference last year – so it would be nice to know if there would be similar forums for us in the new arrangement.

    One other thing I noticed was that the planned update of the LMS has been delayed due to an unsuccessful bid at Professional Services level – would it be possible to outline what effect this change of management reporting will have in terms of large project funding bids, like upgrading the LMS?

  • 2
    Paul Ayris wrote on 15 November 2016:

    Any changes to day-to-day working in the Library will be communicated via this Blog, amongst several routes. It is early days in the process – this is Day 2 of the change – and there are no changes to share now nor changes planned for the immediate future.

    The Library will still contribute to professional services (little p, little s) in UCL. The Professional Services conference celebrates the achievements of professional services colleagues across departments, faculties, VP Offices and Professional Services Divisions. Library Services staff would continue to be eligible to attend and be recognised at the PS Conference.

    The question about the LMS procurement is a good one. I can reassure colleagues that the change in the Library’s reporting line will have no effect on our ability to bid for monies for developments like this. On the contrary, our academic reporting line will strengthen the understanding in UCL of how the Library contributes to the Student Experience – itself a driver for budgetary decisions.

  • 3
    Scarlett Parker wrote on 16 November 2016:

    As this is something of a surprise announcement, I’d be interested in hearing more about the decision-making process – who was involved, how long these discussions have been going on, what the catalysts were – and the perceived pros and cons.

    As Robbie pointed out, our LMS bid was eclipsed by larger Professional Services concerns, but are we any less likely to play second fiddle to the big budget needs of the faculties, for example?

    Regarding TOPS, the recent survey was described as seeking feedback on professional services (small ‘p’, small ‘s’) across a broad range including things like ‘research facilities’, as well as more obvious candidates like ‘information technology’, ‘facilities management’, and ‘student support’. What I’m wondering is where we fit exactly. What’s our identity? When recent developments have seen Library staff managing spaces and offering IT support to students, but alongside the concerted inroads made into the data and research arena, are we in danger of being perceived as a bit player by the institutional heavyweights?

    I’m sure there’s potential to work any shift in allegiances to our advantage, but I think that knowing more about the politics surrounding these machinations would go some way towards alleviating unrest and uncertainty amongst Library staff.

    Interested to hear your thoughts. Thanks.

  • 4
    Paul Ayris wrote on 16 November 2016:

    The decision was ultimately taken by the Provost as head of the institution, and it reflects the strong offering over many years which the Library has made to support teaching, learning and research at UCL and which is reflected in the Strategic Operating Plan which I recently shared with colleagues in the Library.

    There is no likelihood that the needs of the Library will be overlooked following this change. UCL has a pervasive planning round where the needs of all Divisions and Faculties are reflected in the discussions. UCL Library Committee is additionally a stronger supporter of, and advocate for, the Library.

    TOPS is yet to be fully implemented and the shape of future professional services is still to be agreed. I am sure that the Library will have a role in that discussion, and the present survey is part of that process.

    As I have stressed, the change announced this week underlines the success of the Library to date and the very high regard in which it is held in delivering UCL’s academic mission. This is something to celebrate and enjoy.

  • 5
    ucyljad wrote on 16 November 2016:

    Paul, congratulations on becoming Pro Vice-Provost.
    I’m sure this is a well deserved reward for the many hours you devote to College which most of us never see, and your commitment as Director of our service.

    As ever
    Andy Dawson

  • 6
    Scarlett Parker wrote on 17 November 2016:

    Although I fully celebrate and enjoy the success of the Library in supporting UCL’s academic mission, I’m not alone in feeling some trepidation about how ‘the needs of the Library’ are defined. It’s clear that David Price will continue to put his full weight behind the Open Access mission, and to align the Library with his administration will see that side of the Library’s work go from strength to strength. It all bodes well for those working in teams entrenched in research, data, and publishing.

    Those Library staff who rely heavily on the collaboration and compliance of Professional Service divisions to provide frontline and backroom services for undergrads have felt like poor relations in recent years, nelgected, if not abandoned, hence the raft of OH referrals and longterm sickness (including presenteeism), and the shameful results of the staff satisfaction survey.

    I do hope that this shift signals a new era in which EVERY aspect of the Library’s work is championed and celebrated. If that’s the case, I’ll crack open a bottle of bubbly and celebrate with more gusto.

  • 7
    Paul Ayris wrote on 23 November 2016:

    I am happy to offer a comment here. First, one of my two initial roles as Pro Vice-Provost is to look at collections and collection building – both across UCL and further afield. That UCL has asked that this be done is a strong affirmation of the role of the Library and Library colleagues engaged in this core Library activity. Second, Library Committee (chaired by the Vice-Provost) strongly endorses the Library’s work on Customer Service Excellence. He and I both see this as a key activity in underlining the success the Library has in reaching out to staff, students and visitors. Third, the official announcement of the change in line management stresses ‘Paul’s appointment as Pro-Vice-Provost in my office is a welcome recognition of … his team’s potential to make an even greater contribution to UCL’s research and academic performance.’ This underlines the important contribution which ALL colleagues make to the Library’s activity in supporting our users in ALL areas of our operations.

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