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Archive for the 'General' Category

Appraisal Libnet update

Jennifer L Brown17 February 2021

Further to my last communication regarding appraisals, libnet has been updated to include frequently asked questions surrounding:

  • Those with multiple posts and more than one line manager
  • Recording the completed appraisal
  • How to manage the appraisal documentation

The updates can be found here.

If you have any queries regarding this year’s appraisal cycle that has not been covered on libnet or within the UCL Policy please contact lib-hrteam@ucl.ac.uk

Soon to be launched UCL New Agency Temporary recruitment process

Faith Udeze12 February 2021

Soon to be launched UCL New Agency Temporary recruitment process

UCL is introducing a process to manage the recruitment of all Agency (contingency) workers through a single service provider supported by a network of approved Agencies on UCL’s preferred supplier list (PSL). The new system will manage every stage of the recruitment process including: advertising and sourcing candidates (either directly or through preferred supplier list); shortlisting CVs; carrying out compliance and Right to Work checks; purchase orders, on-boarding and managing relationships with and supporting temporary workers. UCL is aiming to launch this new service 22 March 2021

This new process will replace the current UCL recruitment process for temporary workers, managed via a new Beeline Vendor Management system (VMS). It includes some system user functionality for Library managers as timesheet approvals only. Access and training to the new VMS system will be provided before the go-live date

Unitemp will continue to provide in-house temporary recruitment for all student roles or Alumni direct bookings where Unitemps is the preferred approach

Further updates will be provided as soon is available. More information can be found via the link

Questions can be directed to Library HR (Faith Udeze)

Nominate an exceptional colleague or team for a UCL Education Award

Angela Young11 February 2021

Do you know a colleague or team within Library Services that makes an outstanding contribution to the learning experience and success of our students? Then take a moment to nominate them for this year’s UCL Education Awards.

The UCL Education Awards recognise and celebrate the achievements of staff and their contributions to our learning community, with a focus on the work of colleagues that is less visible to students, so work that has enabled excellent practice or facilitated innovation in teaching and learning. Nominations will be judged on evidence of impact and examples demonstrating excellence in various categories, including:

  • Academic support, with a focus on personal tutoring and/or research supervision
  • Assessment and feedback
  • Education success for all
  • Eliminating awarding gaps
  • Outstanding response to teaching and/or support during a pandemic
  • Staff-student partnership

How do nominations work?

Nominations are made within a department and then each UCL department may submit one individual and one team nomination for each category from the nominations they have received.

We are now inviting nominations from across Library Services, from which the Library Skills Steering Group will select the final nominations for Library Services.

To nominate a colleague or team, please download and complete the appropriate form (Word document) for an individual or team in Step 1 on the UCL Education Awards webpage and send by email to Angela Young. Please do NOT complete the ‘Step two’ forms on that page as these are for the final nominations from each department. The deadline for submission of nominations to Library Services is Wednesday 31st March to allow time for the Library Skills Steering Group to decide on final nominations and submit by 12th April.

Why nominate a colleague or team?

This is your chance to ensure your colleague or a library team gets the acknowledgement they deserve, so they can be rewarded and celebrate in their achievements whilst highlighting to the wider UCL community the impact that library staff have on the experience and success of our students.

Cpd25 course – Delivering library services remotely

Victoria Robertson26 January 2021

I attended the above session which was held by cpd25 who are the staff and training development programme  of the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries on  Friday 22nd January and the session was run over Zoom and lasted 1 ½ hours.  The Task Group who ran the session was Task Group 3 – Operations Management and the session was chaired by Ian Clark from the University of East London who was assisted by some of his colleagues from the Task Group.  Besides myself, there were 9 attendees who worked at a wide range of institutions and were at different stages of their career ranging from Library Assistant to Head of Library Service.

The session was set up so that attendees could discuss and share ideas and experiences based on the last year of remote working and the challenging issues that have arisen.  The topics that were proposed for discussion were:

  • Remote working – attendees raised the issues of not having space in their home environment to work, challenges of IT such as wifi issues, broadband speed and access to virtual private networks (VPNs), balancing work and home commitments, post coming into the library on site and who is dealing with it and staffing levels lowering due to vacancies and furloughing of staff.  Some attendees reported that they had had conversations with their line managers about their situation and coming to a compromise concerning flexible hours working.  It was discussed that working remotely has certainly provided food for thought to library directors and senior managers concerning thinking about work practices for the future.  A lot of attendees expressed that they partially enjoyed working remotely but missed interacting in the physical environment with their work colleagues.   A lot of discussion took place concerning the issue of institutions providing physical support to library staff i.e. providing loans of laptops, office furniture and it seemed that the range of support institutions provided varied.   My personal experience was that it did  take me a while to get used to remote working as I had never undertaken it before, and settling myself into a routine and coping with distractions i.e. my partner and dog; but it was helpful to hear that other attendees had encountered similar issues and challenges to myself.
  • Using Microsoft Teams  – attendees  discussed the impact of using Teams to communicate with colleagues and students and it was reported by some attendees that it had improved workflows and that it was easier to undertake training sessions using Teams or other online tools with staff and students (especially international students).  It was also discussed that it made communicating with staff easier in that it would be difficult to meet with colleagues outside the library due to time pressures.  Using the video facility was discussed especially the fact that some attendees felt that when undertaking training sessions with students or having meetings with staff, if participants’ cameras were not on you would be presenting into a void; but some attendees said that they had encountered issues in persuading staff and students attending meetings / training sessions to have their cameras on.  Some attendees reported that they had been using Teams for staff development sessions and they felt that there was more interaction from staff and that they felt more engaged.

I must confess that it took me a while to learn functions of Microsoft Teams and I am still learning some even in recent times, but have found it a useful tool when communicating with my colleagues in my team but also other UCL staff and also holding meetings with librarians externally as well as attending training courses.

  • Delivering teaching – there was a lot of discussion about this topic including the issue of monitoring the chat function when you are delivering a teaching session and bringing in colleagues to help you moderate the chat if available, and also when sharing your screen it was sometimes difficult to see the chat coming in but that a solution may be to log on to your phone.  Some attendees reported that they felt students seemed to be more engaged in attending online teaching sessions and it also gave you an insight into where they were from and their experiences with connecting to the session. One attendee reported that they had started undertaking research drop-in sessions with their students and had found this effective.

I have been undertaking online teaching sessions with students on literature searching using Microsoft Teams mostly and have found the students to be very engaging and also have not encountered any technological issues which can be an issue delivering sessions online.

  • Remote student support – this mostly involved the discussing of challenges and difficulties in providing a remote helpdesk service for students which I found really interesting as UCL are using LibChat and LibAnswers to answer queries.  Other attendees reported that they were using LibApps to provide a remote helpdesk service and stated that it was important to make sure that if libraries had pre-prepared answers that they were kept up to date so that customers were not provided with incorrect or out of date information.
  • Managing budgets – this mainly involved discussing the challenges and solutions in providing access to electronic resources, and attendees reported that some publishers were making resources for students and staff too expensive for libraries to buy and this needed to be discussed at a higher level to prevent libraries not being able to provide access to vital resources in order to support courses and research  undertaken by students and staff.  Attendees also discussed that the way of allocating budgets by institutions to libraries were changing in that different models were being implemented, and also discussed issues where resources being recommended by academics were not available electronically and the liaison that took place in order to ask for suggested alternative sources to replace these when students could not access the materials physically due to libraries being closed.
  • Restructures – attendees  were asked to discuss the experiences and impacts of wider restructuring activity during the pandemic, and some reported that restructuring during the  pandemic had been a positive thing in that it made staff focus more on the process and reflect.  One of the attendees reported that if staff had been on site during the restructuring period the process could have been undertaken more quickly but due to staff working remotely, the timeline for the process had been pushed back which made some staff feel anxious and uncertain.  It was reported that communicating with staff during the process is important to reassure them and help answer any queries they had or discuss any concerns with them; and that the restructuring process was a positive in that staff could learn more skills and there may be opportunities for staff to develop their career further.


I found this session really interesting as it gave me the chance to reflect on my own experiences in the areas for discussion and also hearing about other library staff experiences’ and what has worked and what hasn’t which will help in reflecting on contributing ideas to enhance the provision of library services at the School of Pharmacy Library to our local customers.



Work life balance approval checklist

Jennifer L Brown16 December 2020

UCL lettering outside the Student Centre

In order to aid with the decision making process when considering work life balance requests we have produced a new checklist for Library managers which complements UCL’s Work life balance policy.

The document also includes guidance for managers in terms of the process once they receive a request.

The checklist entitled Work life balance approval checklist can now be found on LibNet.

Appraisal Window December 2020 to March 2021

Jennifer L Brown16 December 2020

Decorative image

As we have entered our new Appraisal Window, we would like to bring to your attention some changes for the upcoming cycle.

Appraisal form

During the current Covid-19 pandemic, colleagues in Library Services are asked to complete the abridged version of the UCL appraisal form.

The new format dispenses with Parts A-C in favour of a single document.

Appraisals and Covid-19

This has not been a ‘normal’ year. UCL’s position is that the appraisal write-up should include acknowledgement of any agreed adjustments to objectives, workload or working patterns, for individual members of staff. Where a barrier, such as the impact of COVID-19 or lockdown, may have impacted on an individual’s ability to meet agreed objectives from the previous year, it should not impact negatively on the individual in terms of demonstrating good performance over the past year. Nor should their revised working pattern/workload create a barrier to any learning and development opportunities which have been identified as part of the appraisal process.

See more information about holding appraisals this year.

How to manage the appraisal documentation


  1. The Appraiser and Appraisee should keep a signed copy of the appraisal document, in a confidential file/location, until the subsequent appraisal, when the document should be disposed of confidentially. (If the appraisee leaves the organisation, the paperwork should be disposed of confidentially at that time.)
  2. If revisions to the job description have been agreed during the appraisal process, please send an electronic copy to Library HR at lib-hrteam@ucl.ac.uk.

The LibNet appraisals page has been updated with information about the abridged appraisals process.

Developmental Conversations

The Developmental conversations approach allows for two-way conversation to take place which can enhance the appraisal experience through meaningful goal setting and personal development.

Further information on developmental conversations is available.

The recommended Developmental Conversations training module is available for staff to complete.

Appraisal Targets

In line with the Library Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Action plan, all staff are required to have a target of engaging or undertaking at least one Equality, Diversity and Inclusion associated activity or event in the 2020/2021 academic session. For example contributing content to the Library Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) newsletter, engagement in wellbeing initiatives, attending a training session or team building exercises using the theme of EDI.

A discussion should take place regarding the Library Strategy and targets that link to the Strategic Key Performance Action objectives.

When developing the targets, consideration should also be given to the UCL Ways of Working and the indicators relating to the grade of the post that the employee holds.

Diagram: Ways of Working

4 dimensional (4D) goal setting:

UCL has introduced a goal setting framework based upon the following principles:

  • Discover my potential – 1 goal required
  • Deliver my role and alignment to UCL’s strategy – 3 goals required
  • Defer/Discontinue activities that hinder me from achieving my role’s purpose and focus
  • Demonstrate UCL’s way of working – 1 goal required

Further details about UCL’s 4 dimensional approach to goal setting are online.


Please ensure you review training completed in the past year and that any mandatory refresher training is set as a training objective.

There are 9 core mandatory courses:

GDPR refresher course completion required every two years.

Mandatory training for Managers

Managers should complete UCL recruitment essentials before participating upon recruitment panels.

UCL has a vast amount of training available for staff which can be found by visiting the Learning Academy.

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris13 December 2020

2020: a year of challenges

2020 has been a year of challenge, but also of achievement. Over the last 9 months, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live. It has led to very rapid changes in the way the Library offers services to our 45,000+ users. All colleagues in the Library have given more than 100% to ensure the safety of our staff and users, and to offer cutting-edge services in these most difficult of times.

Light is on the horizon in 2021, as vaccines start to become available. However, it is too early to relax our guard as we risk losing all the gains we have made. In UCL, we are planning what Terms 2 and 3 will look like. To be realistic, we believe that it will not finally be possible to return to anything like the old ‘normal’ before the new academic year 2021/22. But change is happening quickly and the timescale is far from certain.

At Library Committee this term, I presented my Pro-Vice-Provost’s Report to committee members. I described the challenges we all face, the incredible resilience shown by library colleagues and your fantastic offering over the year. In the Library, the SMT is now beginning to plan what the new ‘normal’ will look like. We want to learn from the last 9 months and retain the things that worked, to supplement the rich provision we know we have offered in the past. It is not a threat, it is an opportunity.

All that remains is for me to wish every member of staff Happy Holidays. Make the most of your downtime and enjoy it with your family and friends. 2021 will be a different year and I look forward to that.


Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services & UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship)

Alma update and Digital Services support

Margaret Stone15 October 2020

This month there are two important updates from the Digital Services team.

Alma’s new layout

From 1 November 2020, you will see a new screen layout when you log in to Alma.  The aims, according to the suppliers, are to increase the working area in Alma, improve navigation, give more options to customize menus, and facilitate improved user workflows.

Please note that this is not the same as the planned changes to the Alma metadata editor, which will be coming next year.

If you would like to try out the new interface and get used to it before 1 November, you can switch it on in the user menu of Alma.  Go to your personal user menu (head and shoulders icon) in the top right of the Alma screen and click to open the drop-down menu.  Then click on “Enable new layout”.

More information is available on the Alma pages of the Ex Libris Knowledge Center or from this short Alma New Layout video.

Digital Services support update

Some 18 months after introducing the new ISD support team for many of our applications, we are retiring the digital-library-support email address.  In its place, we are re-emphasising the first-line support role of ‘Functional Leads’ for Alma and other services.  Beyond that, there is now a single support form which guides you to the correct support route for each service.  For more information, and to bookmark the link to the support form, visit our Digital Services Support pages on LibNet.

The reason for these changes is to make the support process more efficient and to ensure that library staff get the quickest response from the relevant support team.  For example, the new support form prompts the enquirer to indicate to which service the query relates.

For many digital services, such as Alma, there are designated Functional Leads in Library Services who are the experts and coordinators for the digital service. For these services, please first contact the relevant Functional Lead with your query or problem report. They can assist with resolving some issues directly, collating multiple reports and leading the liaison with ISD as necessary. For Alma, the Functional Leads are responsible for granting and updating access rights to Alma.  For this new process, please see the updated FAQ on the Alma page on LibNet.

The next tier of support is provided by the Library Applications Team in ISD. This is a dedicated team for our digital services, who can also bring in assistance from other support teams in ISD as necessary. When a support ticket is opened from the problem report form, either by the Functional Lead or by you directly, the Library Applications Team will respond to the ticket.  Please only contact the team through the support form or through the tickets which are generated.  You may occasionally come across their team email address, but it is only used for internal communications, not for raising new queries or issues.

Progress on problem reports and requests for service changes is monitored by Rob Drinkall and Margaret Stone on behalf of Library Services. This liaison includes escalating urgent matters and clarifying the priority of ongoing work.  Please do contact us if you have any queries about these support arrangements.

Reminder: Visit the new problem report form.

Innovating and sharing new ways to work efficiently

Andrew Watson1 September 2020

UCL Ways of Working wheelWhen the Retrospective Cataloguing Team adopted the theme Innovating and sharing new ways to work efficiently from UCL Ways of Working as one of our goals earlier this year, little did we know how apt it was going to prove.  Within weeks, we were abruptly separated from the printed material we spent much of our time cataloguing and our chief activity appeared to be curtailed overnight.

Or was it?  One of our key skills is correcting and enhancing metadata, honed through working with Special Collections material stored offsite where retrieval depends on the accurate matching of bibliographic data to barcode numbers.  Analysis of data, accurate matching and enhancement lend themselves to many situations and this is where our journey of innovation led…

We began by matching over 1,900 of our rare books to entries in the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC), a union catalogue of imprints chiefly in the English language published prior to 1801, and added UCL holdings.  ESTC is one of the chief international finding aids for such material.  We then turned our attention to Special Collections archive holdings adding barcodes and shelf locations to records for items contained within 350 boxes of Karl Pearson and J B S Haldane papers.

Next, Tabitha Tuckett enlisted our help in an innovative project she devised to meet academic needs whilst physical collections were inaccessible.  This involved us working with the Special Collections Digitisation Team  to make all stored digital images of Special Collections printed material available online in the UCL Digital Collections repository.  We assisted by enhancing the relevant metadata to enable discovery.  In addition, we added links in the catalogue records so that for the first time, descriptions of our rare books on Explore lead directly to online images of the resources, as in this example from the Laurence Housman collection:  An anti-suffrage alphabet.

Testing software for the delivery of Special Collections teaching, moderating online events, enhancing presentation transcriptions, so the journey continues…

As for my own innovative activity, I’ve been converting Excel spreadsheets of bibliographic data into MARC records for importation into Alma.  Compiled by the Folklore Society Library for their rare material, the data required analysis in order to be assigned to an array of over 40 MARC fields and subfields.  It is the first time this has been attempted for material held by Special Collections which has complex inventory importation requirements.  Tom Meehan provided invaluable assistance by setting up the necessary import profiles in Alma, an innovative activity for him and one deserving a blog post of its own which Tom plans to provide.  The records are now available on Explore by searching for flsrare.

What innovative activities has the lockdown period led you to explore?  Do share!

Slade School of Fine Art Degree Showcase 2020

L ( Elizabeth ) Lawes9 July 2020

Due to the current campus lockdown, this year’s Slade School of Fine Art student degree shows were cancelled – a disastrous outcome for those students who had spent three or four years (BA/BFA) or two years (MA/MFA) studying towards that moment, their one opportunity to showcase their work to the wider world.

But Slade staff and students are nothing if not open to experimentation and have embraced the restrictions by producing a virtual degree show. Each student has their own microsite which includes a personal statement and images or video content.

One of the highlights is the work of BA student Mataio Austin Dean, who has produced a tripartite work titled Colonial Structures focusing on UCL’s colonial connections. Anyone who attended the Special Collections Late event, Protest!  Voices of dissent in art and text, will remember Mataio’s moving performance of the late 18th century industrial ballad, The Four Loom Weaver.

The showcase also has some associated live events; from 13th July Slade Radio will broadcast audio work, discussion, talks and other aural miscellany via Twitch.

The online platform is available until 14th July and is an opportunity to celebrate the work of students graduating, before a celebratory physical exhibition next year.

Colonial Structures: UCL-Wilkins, Mataio Austin Dean, 2020, inkjet on paper, approx. 30 x 40cm.

Colonial Structures: UCL-Wilkins, Mataio Austin Dean, 2020, inkjet on paper, approx. 30 x 40cm.