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Archive for the 'Finance, management information and value for money' Category

UCL Library Services “Highly Commended” in Times Higher Education Leadership & Management Awards

Benjamin Meunier22 June 2018

UCL Library Services gained recognition as an “Outstanding Library Team” in this year’s Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards, where UCL was highly commended. For 2018, the 10th anniversary of these national awards, there was stiff competition from other institutions, with 8 libraries shortlisted in 2018, including the London School of Economics and Political Science.

The winners were the White Rose Libraries Consortium (Universities of Leeds, York and Sheffield) for their collaborative work on a repository service (White Rose Research Online) and an online press. The consortium’s joint management of print holdings was also considered to be of national importance.


Senior managers, including the Provost and a number of Vice-Provosts, have shared their congratulations. Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research) said:

“Great recognition of the outstanding UCL library … Wonderful to know we have such a strong and respected division in UCL.”


There is cause for feelings of deja-vu – we were highly commended in 2016. This is UCL Library Services’ second accolade in 3 years from the THELMAs’ jury, recognising the quality and consistency of our service. Specific areas which were recognised in 2018 spanned work on the User Experience, Staffing, Equality and Diversity and Communication, Open Access and Public Engagement. Highlights included:

–  Increased the number of study places on campus by over 500 in the summer of 2017

–  Reached 65% of all taught courses on our ReadingLists@UCL service– the highest coverage rate amongst our research-intensive peers. We have grown our digital library to suit demand with Patron-Driven Acquisitions. Use of e-books increased by 45% in 2017!

–  Extended opening hours. We opened the Main Library throughout the Christmas period for the first time in 2017, and over 500 students were working in the library between Christmas and New Year

 – Our 11th annual Staff Conference explored the theme of Customer Service Excellence.

–  Exceeded 50 publications and 1 million downloads from UCL Press since its launch in summer 2015. That is an amazing achievement for a young Press, which is helping to re-define the meaning of academic publishing.


As noted in our submission to the awards, “UCL Library Services represents an outstanding community of professionals, dedicated to enhancing the user experience and developing new publishing models which open up the knowledge and wisdom of UCL research and teaching to a global audience”. This commendation is one which was earned through the collective strengths and hard work of colleagues throughout Library Services. So congratulations and we look forward to celebrating this achievement at the next Staff Conference in a few weeks’ time!

The Times Higher Education have provided the email signature below, which colleagues are welcome to append to signatures after their contact details:


What can grant money be used for

Sandra I Enwesi14 May 2018

Professional Services Conference – invitation to register and enter your team for a Professional Services Award

Benjamin Meunier4 May 2018

As announced in TheWeek@UCL, this year’s Professional Services Conference will be held on Tuesday 5 June at Logan Hall, UCL Institute of Education. The theme of the conference is ‘Working in Partnership’ and the organisers have planned an exciting, interactive programme. Registration is open so book your place now. Library Services staff are eligible to register, subject to line manager approval. Although we are part of the Office of the Vice-Provost (Research), you can register with a “Library Services” ticket (in the list): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ucl-professional-services-conference-2018-tickets-45721610568

Professional Services Awards

Nominations for the Professional Services Awards opens today (Friday 4 May) and closes at midday on Friday 18 May. ‘Working in partnership’ happens across all areas of Library Services, so please consider putting forwards your team(s) or initiatives which you have been involved in. Library Services has been successful in previous conferences, with awards granted to the Main and Science Library Daytime and Evening/Weekend teams in 2016 (https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/libnet/2016/02/04/library-services-teams-win-excellent-service-award/) and UCL Press in 2017 (https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/libnet/2017/02/16/ucl-press-wins-ucl-brand-ambassador-award/).

The Professional Services Conference is a real opportunity to showcase the work of Library Services in partnership with academic colleagues and other professional services teams, and how we contribute to making UCL one of the world’s best universities for study, research and sharing knowledge.

The categories for awards this year are:

  • Working in Partnership
  • Sharing good practice
  • Process review/system improvement
  • Improving efficiency
  • Improving service user satisfaction 

If you are interested in nominating your team for one of these awards, please email professionalservices@ucl.ac.uk and they will send you a nomination form and guidance notes. Details and templates for nominations will be available from the Professional Services webpage shortly, and nominations open from today until the deadline for submissions on Friday 18th May at 12 pm: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/professional-services/prof-services-awards


Sandra I Enwesi2 May 2018

Please click here for the full SCONUL result ‘Survey Results and Statistics’

UCL Library Services shortlisted (again) as Outstanding Library Team

Benjamin Meunier12 April 2018

I am pleased to report that UCL Library Services has been shortlisted for the third consecutive time in the ‘Outstanding Library Team’ category of the THE Leadership and Management Awards (THELMAs). This year marks the 10th anniversary of the awards. Library Services was recognized for the achievement of a number of goals we set out in the Library Strategy, including (under KPA headings):



User Experience

  • Increased the number of study places on campus by over 500 in the summer of 2017
  • Reached 65% of all taught courses on our ReadingLists@UCL service– the highest coverage rate amongst our research-intensive peers. We have grown our digital library to suit demand with Patron-Driven Acquisitions. Use of e-books increased by 45% in 2017!
  • Extend opening hours. We opened the Main Library throughout the Christmas period for the first time in 2017, and over 500 students were working in the library between Christmas and New Year


Staffing, Equality and Diversity

Our 11th annual Staff Conference explored the theme of Customer Service Excellence. As part of the ceremony, a Library Staff Awards scheme celebrated our staff for their outstanding demonstration of Library Services’ values.


Communication, Open Access and Public Engagement

By championing Open Access and Open Science, we are inventing new ways of how a University can engage with the wider world, sharing its knowledge and learning for the good of Society.

Since we launched UCL Press in summer 2015, we have published 56 monographs and are producing 8 journals. These have been downloaded a staggering 705,000 times in 221 countries. We expect to pass the million download mark sometime in the Summer of 2018. It’s an amazing achievement for a young Press, which is helping to re-define the meaning of academic publishing.



THE editor John Gill said: “The Thelmas are unique in shining a deserved spotlight on often unsung heroes from across the professional services and administration of our world-leading universities, and it’s an honour for Times Higher Education to organise an event celebrating their achievements. This year’s shortlist – once again featuring almost half of all UK institutions – shows that talent and dedication continue to abound, as well as a determination to find creative solutions to problems as and when they occur.”

Winners will be announced at a ceremony on Thursday 21 June 2018. To be shortlisted for the THELMAs is already a significant achievement, and a tribute to the hard work and commitment of staff across UCL Library Services in delivering outstanding services.



Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris5 January 2018

New to UCL

First of all, a very happy New Year to all colleagues in UCL Library Services. I hope everyone feels rested after a mid-winter break.

When I got back into UCL this week, I received the results of the New to UCL survey (2017), which measures levels of satisfaction with many aspect of service in UCL by new UCL students.

Here are the pertinent results in tabular form as they refer to the Library:

Use one or more of the libraries within UCL

95% satisfied

1% down on 2016

Access online library resources e.g. e-journals, e-books

91% satisfied

1% up on 2016


These are really great results and a happy way to start 2018! In total, the New to UCL student survey found that 93% of students surveyed are satisfied with their overall arrival experience here (down by 5% against last year).

New To UCL was designed by the Office of the Vice-Provost (Education) after extensive consultation across UCL to assess the student application and arrival experience. 21,000 students were surveyed in November and December 2017, with 7,740 responding. The response rate was just under 37%. 38% of undergraduates, 36% of postgraduate taught students and 46% of postgraduate research students responded to the survey.

These survey outcomes for the Library are a tremendous and sustainable result. Every single member of staff should feel congratulated as their work is being noted and appreciated by our students.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Transforming Our Professional Services (TOPS)

Benjamin Meunier3 January 2018

It has been some time since I last wrote about TOPS, so as we start the New Year, I would like to provide a brief update. But first, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and all the best for a successful 2018.


As a reminder, the vision for the TOPS programme is for UCL to provide effective, efficient and integrated professional services that enable us to achieve our vision of academic excellence, sustain our position as one of the top ten universities in the world and create an environment in which our staff can personally develop and fulfill their potential.


The TOPS programme has been set an initial list of priorities to start work on in 2018, which were outlined by the Provost in December. These include:

• Research and innovation support services

• Improving the student experience

• Relieving the pressures on the Bloomsbury estate

• Improving procurement practices to enable more investment in the academic mission

• Making better use of our estate

• More fulfilling and rewarding careers


Thankfully, more detail is emerging from the TOPS programme following consultations conducted 2017 with over 1,700 staff and students at UCL. The ideas are developing into more practical objectives, from the high-level aspirations listed above.

These ideas are described on the TOPS webpages: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/transforming-our-professional-services/tops-emerging-ideas. There are few references to Library Services specifically, except to note our enabling and supporting role within “UCL Research Support” (under the Research Support Services tab).  Library Services is not one of the areas which TOPS is looking to transform, as I have mentioned in previous posts this recognises the high quality of our services and the levels of satisfaction with the Library from our diverse user groups. Nonetheless, many of the strands of TOPS are pertinent to Library Services, as a department and as members of UCL staff. For each of the areas which TOPS is focusing on, there is a PDF file which provides some detail about the emerging ideas. Within these documents, a brief summary sets out what the TOPS team heard from a large number of colleagues regarding the issues they are facing, for example around Estates, IT, Finance or People services – these are challenges which are shared across UCL (you may recognise these from your own experience) and which TOPS aims to address.

There have been some changes in the Programme Team and Tom Rowson has taken on the role of Programme Director, in addition to his role as Director of Planning. Tom will work with his team and the TOPS Executive Group to take forward the TOPS programme in 2018.

Feedback from the latest round of consultation is due to be published on 19/01. I will send an update once this is made available. 



Brexit phase one deal viewed as positive news for universities

Benjamin Meunier14 December 2017

Ahead of the European Council tomorrow, I am writing with a brief summary on the agreement which was signed off in the early hours of Friday 8th December, when Prime Minister Theresa May and Jean-Claude Junker agreed a deal on key issues to enable discussions to move on to Britain’s future relationship with the EU.

The joint report published by the British Government and EU negotiators has been broadly welcomed by Universities UK and the Russell Group, as good news for universities on key issues, including:

  • progress on securing the residency rights of other EU citizens living in the UK
  • the UK’s continuation in existing EU programmes fostering collaboration between institutions, including Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+, and
  • the European Investment Bank.

Universities UK welcome in particular “the fact that agreement has finally been reached which should ensure that the 46,000 other EU nationals working across the university sector can remain in the UK indefinitely. In addition, we are encouraged that today’s agreement offers further clarity that UK universities, students and researchers will continue to be able to participate in incredibly valuable programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ until their end dates.” Jo Johnson has confirmed that UK organisations and individuals will have continued full access to Horizon 2020 for the duration of the programme, until the end of 2020. It is also helpful that the cut-off point for EU nationals to be covered by the agreement has been agreed as the date the UK leaves the EU in March 2019, rather than earlier dates which have been mooted. People with settled status will be able to spend up to five consecutive years outside of the UK without losing this status.

One caveat on the deal, even after its expected ratification at the EU summit tomorrow is that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”, meaning that some aspects of the phase 1 deal may be revisited. However, there is a widely-shared sense of hope from EU and UK parties that the key issues around citizens’ rights and continuing budgetary contributions will not be jeopardised by the next phase of negotiations.

Hopefully, colleagues affected by Brexit will feel that the greater sense of clarity emerging from the negotiations provides some comfort, after a protracted period of uncertainty. Earlier this week, the Prime Minister wrote a letter to EU citizens in the UK to reiterate that the rights of EU citizens in the UK and those of UK nationals living in EU countries were now secured, and provide reassurance for the future.

For further advice, UCL Library Services staff can refer to the EU referendum portal: www.ucl.ac.uk/eu-referendum. You may also access personal support from the University’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) on a confidential basis. Support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year for staff.

Not just for the library

Sandra I Enwesi7 December 2017

Yes, UCL has one of the best collections of manuscripts, archives, and rare books and during the project session held last week, I mentioned how we have not achieved this reputation by relying solely on limited library funds.
External funding has played a key role in helping us acquire, conserve, preserve and promote so many of these items most of which are of significant historical value.
In addition, a successful grant means less strain on already limited library funds; this means that the library resources can go further.
However, the Library/UCL is not the only beneficiary of a successful grant. We learned that writing a bid benefits everyone involved especially the writer.
The bid writer will use different skills to try to convince a funder to donate or invest money in a project.
This is a big task in itself, it takes a lot of time and effort to coordinate and deliver a bid on time, skills such as written communication skills, excellent research skills, excellent writing/editing skills, with close attention to detail, information-gathering skills.
Being able to capture the key proposition in a clear, concise way and the ability to explain concepts in simple language with the aim of generating enthusiasm for the project.
The bid writing process might mean that you have to collaborate with others in your own team or across departments. All of these are good transferable skills to have, they look great on your CV, and they will improve bid after bid.
The session touched on my role as Projects and Management Information Officer (PMI Officer) and the support I can provide. This includes coordinating the bid writing process, moving things along, gathering the essential supporting documents, obtaining sign off for key members and providing financial advice.
We also talked about the importance of briefing me, the PMI officer of any bidding intentions. This is essential for me to be able to record, track its progress, and track the funds when it does arrive and ensure that you are spending from the right pot.

The feedback I received from the session was very encouraging.
100% of the attendants thought it was helpful to hear from Rebecca Sims – Head of Archives talk about her personal experience with bids.
85% of attendants had not applied for funding before and after the session, 71% of those will consider putting together a bid with support, which I am only happy to provide
At the end of the session, I mentioned that it might be helpful to attend training on how to write bids or how to make grant applications, these are available externally.
Apart from the list of funders that I hope all those who attended the session have found useful, I will from time to time post via liblist information on available funds that I come across.
Special thanks goes to the Library Finance team and Rebecca Sims for their support and input on the day.

£1.4m additional investment in Library Services spaces for summer 2018

Benjamin Meunier23 November 2017

The Central Estates Strategy Board (CESB) met last week and considered a set of bids submitted by Library Services to enhance a number of our learning spaces and service points, and to increase the number of study spaces in the Institute of Education Library. I am delighted to report that the CESB approved the vast majority of bids from the Library, totalling over £1.4M in additional funding for 2017-18 which will be distributed across a number of sites. This follows a grant last year of £830,000, which was spent and enabled a 15% increase in learning spaces, as previously reported (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/teaching-learning/news/2017/oct/15-increase-ucl-study-space-2016-17).

Below is a brief description of the works, which will now be taken forwards by the Library Buildings Team working in partnership with service teams and Site Managers, with support from UCL Estates to deliver the projects. A Programme Board is being established, which I will chair, to oversee the range of projects described below which are due to be completed for the start of academic year 2018-19.

  • New turnstilesScience Library

    Entrance lobby and new turnstiles
    To replace turnstiles, remove dropped ceiling, new lights, demolish Security box. Upgrade heat curtain. New information AV. Install new permanent furniture for Library/ISD service point.


Digitisation suite move
Relocate to B24, create room with AC and leak protection on pipework. Redecorate and new flooring.

  • Institute of Education

    Level 5 – creation of quiet study zone
    Remove some racking to create new study area. Replace existing furniture and add circa 100 study spaces.

Level 4 – increase study space
New study desks and chairs to replace existing and add circa 80 study spaces, including new pod for disability support.


Autosorter by library entrance
Create glass fronted enclosure and fit autosorter and consultation space.


  • royal-free-libraryRoyal Free Hospital Medical Library

    Ground floor – furniture and electrics
    Install new desking and run electrics and data to required location, redecorate space. Add circa 15 study spaces. Replace A/C in computer rooms.


  • Main Library

    Entrance/Information Point (feasibility study)
    Feasibility study to remodel Information Point

First floor – Help Point
Remodel help point in line with customer service agenda to provide more consultation space.

Second floor – Research Grid
Complete refurbishment of three dedicated Post Graduate rooms, providing extra spaces with new furniture.

  • Main Library / Science Library / Senate House Hub

Additional student lockers
To install additional card-controlled lockers in various locations.

  • Language and Speech Sciences (LASS, Chandler House)

    Redesign reception and power to desks
    New service desk, self-service and Print@UCL device. Add power to new desks in main reading room.



Thank you to all the colleagues who have been involved in preparing early briefings and the cases for the above projects, which once realised will significantly improve the quality of our physical spaces. I look forward to working with colleagues as we develop detailed designs and plans, with a view to initiating these building works in summer 2018.