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Transforming Our Professional Services (TOPS): SMT meeting on 07/06

By Benjamin G M Meunier, on 9 June 2017

As previously advertised, the Library SMT hosted a presentation and Q&A session from the Transforming Our Professional Services (TOPS) consultant on 7th June. Gillian Magee, who is heading design work for TOPS, outlined the objectives of the programme, the emergent service models and the likely implications for Library Services.

The background for TOPS is the fast growth of UCL over the past 10 years, and recognition that some Professional Services are struggling to catch up with demand, as identified in the Cubane survey conducted in 2016. As many of you will already be aware, TOPS has 3 key objectives:

  • To establish more effective services and a more satisfied UCL community
  • To provide clearer career pathways and more fulfilling careers for staff
  • Improving Value for Money and Efficiency in Professional Services to enable greater investment in the academic mission of UCL

20160930_122427Gillian stressed that Library Services was not a focal area for TOPS, since there is evidence of the high levels of satisfaction from our user community. (As previously noted on this blog, benchmarking data indicates that UCL Library Services offers excellent Value for Money.). Through the TOPS consultations undertaken since January on various workstreams, very little feedback has been received by students or staff in relation to the library. Comments which have been received have been overwhelmingly positive. The main demands for improvement which were raised to the TOPS team included providing 24/7 access to libraries and more study space. Neither of the issues above are revelations to Library colleagues, and sadly they are out of scope for TOPS, although I would note that solutions are being pursued separately through bids for additional opening and ongoing work with Estates to increase our numbers of study spaces, including new computers at the Institute of Education Library.

In terms of the impact of TOPS on Library Services, there are 2 aspects envisaged by the TOPS team:

  • the effects of TOPS on Library Services as a customer of other Professional Services (HR, Finance, Estates, etc.)
  • defining any areas of Library Services which should be preserved, or areas where changes are required in line with the Library Strategy and UCL 2034. Specifically, this relates to preserving what works well where Library Services delivers excellent services or acts as a partner in providing services (Research Support services and Teaching, Student Support and Education administration), so that any changes are not to the detriment of the user experience.

To manage the first of the two impacts outlined above, Jennifer Brown (Departmental Administrator), Andy Pow (Head of Library Finance) and Jay Woodhouse (Facilities & Projects Manager) are being invited to participate in the relevant TOPS workstreams to represent the needs of our department in the process. The main area which TOPS is looking into for Library Services has been identified as establishing a blueprint for future mergers, to facilitate integration of local library services into the Library. TOPS are acutely aware of the need to avoid damaging links between Library teams and others involved in supporting research and teaching, and this will be a key consideration as they develop service models for other parts of UCL’s professional services.

The overall message from the presentation and the answers to our questions was that TOPS recognised the efficiency of the Library as a service provider and was not looking to initiate major changes to the department. There are a number of areas of Professional Services which are expected to be “transformed” (in line with the title of the programme), however for Library Services the approach is “light-touch”. Information on the TOPS webpages will be updated to reflect this in due course.

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