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Senior Library Assistant Conference 2019

Jonathan W MSiah17 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!

Automatic External Defibrillators(AEDs).

NoelForrester3 June 2019

Unexpected cardiac trauma can happen to anyone, of any age, anywhere, at any time.  Automatic External Defibrillators can be used by anyone to shock a person’s heart back to normal rhythm if they suffer sudden cardiac arrest.

When used alongside cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), they raise the chance of survival from 9% to 50% when compared to the use of CPR alone.

UCL has installed a network of 30 AED devices across the main campus including the Main and Science Libraries  – please make a note of where your nearest AED is by clicking on the map of AED locations.

First aiders are encouraged to download the Good SAM app which alerts users if a member of the public in the immediate vicinity needs an AED or first aid. The Good SAM app is also a registry of over 40,000 public access AEDs throughout the UK.

Further information can be found on the Safety at UCL website.


Wellbeing Champions update: UCL LaSS Library

Sharon AJames16 May 2019

Welcome to the first in a series of blogs that UCL Library Wellbeing Champions will be writing about the work, ideas and events that they have been involved in or created. This update highlights some of the initiatives Jon Siah and I have taken at the UCL Language and Speech Science Library since attending training in early 2018. This involved completing the one day Mental Health First Aid for HE course followed a few weeks later by a day of Health & Wellbeing Champion training. Since then, along with other Library Wellbeing Champions, we have also attended the UCL Wellbeing course Suicide: Spotting the Signs.

Therapy dog Indiana Bones qualifying as a Wellbeing Champion

As Wellbeing Champions we help UCL staff and students by using our listening skills and signposting relevant services or resources. We also regularly take part in Wellbeing meetings and events. For example, Jon and I helped facilitate two ‘Life, Work, Balance’ sessions at the Library Staff Conference in 2018 and I also created posters and distributed resources at the Marketplace Stall during the lunch period.

Jean and Yinka keeping cool at the 2018 Library Conference on Wellbeing

In the weeks beforehand I liaised with Library Finance to acquire funding for fans and then sourced and ordered them for the Marketplace Stall. These were distributed to conference attendees to help with their wellbeing over the course of a long and very hot day.

We also regularly update the LaSS Facebook and Twitter accounts with wellbeing information and have emailed Liblist with resources such as the Sleepio and Silvercloud apps. For LaSS staff, we held a fun Wellbeing Crafternoon at the end of last year using a craft pack ordered from Mind. At this Christmas-themed event, the team were able to relax and catch up with one another while creating handmade decorations for the library.

Photo from the Halloween Wellbeing walk

Another successful event was the Halloween Wellbeing walk arranged by Jon which started at Brunswick Square and ended at Gray’s Inn Walks with a large attendance of nearly 40 people from all over UCL.

Wellbeing Corner at LaSS 

Most recently we have developed a Wellbeing Corner in the LaSS reading room for library users. This features a noticeboard covered in information such as how to manage stress and exams and the contact details of the UCL Student Psychological and Counselling Services and Student Support and Wellbeing. In holders underneath we have placed helpful leaflets, a laminate with advice on how to cope with panic attacks, copies of a local walking map, and coloured pencils and home-made colouring books.

Wellbeing Corner also has a selection of newly purchased self-help books that include guidance on how to deal with anxiety, low self-esteem, OCD, eating disorders, depression and insomnia. We sourced these from a reading list originally created by Teaching & Learning Services for the School of Pharmacy’s Wellbeing section: http://readinglists.ucl.ac.uk/lists/B89CADDC-EEF1-9C7C-2991-E1BEA2F44BC0.html  As well as these books some additional ones were bought and we are hoping this new collection will be helpful for students and staff. Please feel free to come over and have a look at Wellbeing Corner and borrow the books.

At the moment LaSS Library is involved in the Wellbeing Steps Challenge despite our team being called (accurately in my case!) ‘On Our LaSS Legs’. If you’re taking part I hope you’re enjoying it and a big thank you to Laurie McNamee for doing the organising.

For those interested in reading more about the UCL Wellbeing Champion role please go to: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/human-resources/health-wellbeing/wellbeingucl/get-involved/become-wellbeing-champion

Knowledge Quarter Community Champions launch

Benjamin G MMeunier1 May 2018

On Monday 30/04, I attended the launch of the Knowledge Quarter Community Champions scheme. The Knowledge Quarter is a partnership of over 85 academic, cultural, scientific and media organisations located in a 1-mile radius around King’s Cross and Bloomsbury. Partners include the British Museum, University of the Arts London, Google, the British Library and UCL.
For more information on the Knowledge Quarter (KQ), see www.knowledgequarter.London

The Community Champions project is a series of events designed to bring KQ partners together with local charities and community groups, in order to encourage KQ partners to develop collaborative projects around the themes of youth, employability, environment and wellbeing.

Jodie Eastwood (Chief Executive, Knowledge Quarter) emphasised the number and importance of libraries in the Knowledge Quarter. One of the major objectives of the KQ is to facilitate more sharing of our resources and collections with the local community. Dr Grace Sims (Outreach Development Manager, Royal Veterinary College and Chair of the Knowledge Quarter Community Engagement Sub Group) outlined the details of these aspirations, to increase the participation of communities with KQ partners like UCL. The scheme is about sharing knowledge of existing programmes between partners, and identifying potential areas for collaboration. The Library Leadership Team are currently collating stories that show how our teams make a contribution to the UCL London Strategy – how UCL Library Services makes “a tangible difference to London’s people, economy, communities and culture”. I have already received some great examples of work with schools and communities in Camden and hope to share this more widely once we the various activities underway have been fed back in the coming week.

Based on the main areas where programmes are already happening, KQ has identified 4 categories: Youth (which covers work with secondary, primary, early years, family), Wellbeing (physical and mental), Employability, Environment.

One of the presentations of early “success stories” was a collaboration between the Recovery College, part of Camden & Islington NHS Trust, and Kings Place Music Foundation. The Recovery College provides courses designed to contribute towards wellbeing and recovery, allowing students to share their experience of mental health or physical health challenges and teach on the courses, with the intention of inspiring hope and embodying the principles of recovery. The speakers emphasised how being able to hold events at Kings Place allowed students to socialise and normalise mental health experiences in a welcoming non-clinical space. This has proven very beneficial to the students of the Recovery College. Wellbeing courses at the Recovery College are open to all, including staff in the KQ partners. For further details see: https://www.candi.nhs.uk/services/recovery-college

Presentations also illustrated how the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) set up a homework club with the Bengali Workers Association (BWA), supporting pupils aged 6-16 (mainly 9-10). This has proven hugely popular with the BWA. The RVC initially offered vet-related activity sessions (e.g. specimen handling in lab coats) but transitioned to support for Maths, English, Science in line with parents’ expectations and demands. The homework club still has a link to the RVC, for instance, narrating the stories of animals or counting different types of animals or bones…


The slides and delegate information pack from the launch event have been uploaded to the Knowledge Quarter website here. If you would like to find out more or get involved in the Knowledge Quarter activities, you can:

  • sign up for the newsletter to be kept informed about the latest Knowledge Quarter news and events. You can sign up on the KQ website.
  • sign up to the Knowledge Bank, where KQ are trying to encourage people to connect with one another based on skills they want to share or want to learn about.
  • attend future events, subject to line manager approval. KQ have a great line up planned for 2018 including private views at the British Library (May 9) and the British Museum (May 18). All of these events are run for free with the aim of encouraging mutual trust and understanding between KQ institutions.

Bloomsbury Healthcare Library update

AnnaDi Iorio10 April 2018

As you may be aware, University College London Hospitals (UCLH) NHS Foundation Trust is supported by a partnership of medical and healthcare libraries, some at UCL (Cruciform Hub, Ear Institute & Action on Hearing Loss Libraries, Eastman Dental Library, Queen Square Library), and some managed by the Trust. A Service Level Agreement between UCLH and UCL Library Services www.ucl.ac.uk/library/nhs/sla covers the full range of services provided by UCL for all UCLH staff and students at 4 hospital sites.

Following a recent review, UCLH has decided to close one of the libraries it manages, the Bloomsbury Healthcare Library (BHL) based at Bonham Carter House. Services that BHL previously delivered to UCLH have transferred to UCL Library Services and are included in the SLA. In particular, the Cruciform Hub is now the designated home library for nurses, midwives and allied health professionals at University College Hospital, as well as other medical and healthcare staff at this site, and management of BHL’s e-resource subscriptions is also moving to UCL.

This is a great opportunity for us to strengthen our collaboration with UCLH and further improve our services to the Trust – for example we have recently installed 6 additional UCLH computers in the Cruciform Hub, and we have started delivering more Trust inductions and training sessions.

PS: When visiting the Hub for the first time, UCLH staff will need to register with the new Hub entry system.

Kate Cheney and Anna Di Iorio

Recent staff publications

AnnaDi Iorio28 March 2018

Congratulations to Desta Bokre and Katie Meheux on their recent publications, a testament to our engagement with research:

Rüschen H, Aravinth K, Bunce C, Bokre D. 2018. Use of hyaluronidase as an adjunct to local anaesthetic eye blocks to reduce intraoperative pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 3, DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010368.pub2 [http://cochranelibrary-wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD010368.pub2/full].

Meheux K. 2017. Digitising and Re-examining Vere Gordon Childe’s ‘Dawn of European Civilization’: a celebration of the UCL Institute of Archaeology’s 80th Anniversary. Archaeology International, 20, 91-105, DOI: 10.5334/ai-357 [https://ai-journal.com/articles/10.5334/ai.357/].

Meheux K. 2017. Eight Socialist Conscientious Objectors at the University of Oxford, 1914-1918. Oxoniensia, 82, 165-200.

Anna Di Iorio and Michelle Wake

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

PaulAyris27 October 2017

UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library

26 October saw the formal opening of the refurbished  UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health Library.

GraziaA full description of the work which has been undertaken to deliver this fantastic new facility can be seen here.

There were three formal speeches to mark the official opening – from Grazia Mazotti, Ben Meunier and Jay Woodhouse.

The new layouts underline a number of principles which are embedded in the Library Strategy and UCL 2034.

First, the move from a traditional paper-based library to one which is geared more closely to responding to how University and NHS users actually need and use learning spaces. The provision of so much computer hardware, and the flexibilty of the desks in allowing this kit to disappear if the space is needed for more conventional learning, speak directly to the User Experience.

Jay and BenSecond, the new layouts illustrate the close partnership working that exists between UCL and its NHS partners. The library service in Child Health is a joint library service, offered equally to HE users and to the NHS.

Third, the new library layouts could not have been accomplished without partnership working between the Library and ISD in Professional Services. The sharing of a common vision for the future of UCL library and learning spaces helped to develop a first class vision for what shape the library service could take for HE and NHS users.

Finally, I would like to add my personal congratulations to everyone involved in this project, particuarly to library staff in Child Health and to the Library’s Buildings team. All have worked tirelessly to deliver a first-rate library and learning experience from which we will learn much, as we prepare for the delivery of the New Student Centre and 1,000 new learning spaces in 2019.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Congratulations to Angela Young: Research Support Challenge is a winner

JuneHedges17 October 2017

Last summer 29 members of library staff undertook an online 30 day Research Support Challenge as part of the UCL Library Services Biomedical and Health Information Summer School. This summer the Challenge faced its own challenge, as an entry for the 2017 Sally Hernando Awards for Innovation. We are delighted to announce that this initiative achieved third place in this national contest for innovation in NHS Libraries. Congratulations go to Angela Young, who conceived and authored the Challenge.

The 30 Day Research Support Challenge, which was delivered via the Summer School Moodle course, was inspired by a current trend for 30 day fitness challenges. Participants were challenged to watch a short video on an aspect of research support, and then undertake a short quiz to test their understanding, for 30 consecutive working days. To succeed in the challenge participants did not necessarily need to complete each day’s activities on the day they appeared as long as they completed all 30 days within the six week timeframe. This was designed to accommodate differing working patterns of library staff.imageforblog

The Challenge was designed to better inform library staff who may be required to deliver advocacy or support for research activities. Most topics were relevant across the service and included citing, reference management software, open access, the Research Excellence Framework, UCL’s Research Publications Service (RPS), research data management and bibliometrics. There were also biomedical-specific topics, such as systematic review methodology and critical appraisal of clinical studies. Engagement with the Challenge was really encouraging, with 9 participants awarded the virtual winners’ cup for completing it within the 30 day timeframe.

Comments from the judges of the Sally Hernando awards included:

“A lot of thought had obviously gone into planning and delivering the course, and it included innovative elements of fitness-type challenges, quizzes and gamification, with just a little bit of new content each day, helping to make it suitable for part-time library staff. The needs of researchers are something that many library staff across all sectors needs to be aware of, and support. I also feel it is a good example of partnership working between higher-education libraries and the NHS, and an example of providing library staff with the right skills to support personalised delivery of library services.”

“[Angela] highlights the continued availability of resources beyond the initial 30 days of training module and presents learning points for future developments.”

The full details all the winning entries, together with the other innovation entries submitted in 2017 and from previous years, can be found on the NHS Library and Knowledge Services (England) website. Angela also had a winning innovation in 2011 for another online element of the Summer School, 11½ Things.

Angela’s award includes funding to present this innovation at the Health Libraries Group or an equivalent conference to help disseminate the work. Angela will now look to update the Challenge and investigate other channels for wider dissemination. The Challenge remains available as a training and development tool for UCL library staff via the Summer School Moodle course. Contact Angela for more information or for an enrolment key for the course.

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

PaulAyris30 August 2017

The Library as a leader in cultural change across UCL

As we start a new academic year, I want to lay out some of the tasks that I have been asked to take on as Pro-Vice-Provost in UCL Library Services. These are objectives which are additional to those in the Library Strategy and to my role as head of UCL Library Services. The theme of all these objectives is ‘The Library as leader across the institution and beyond’.

Burghley House, Lincolnshire

Kitchens, Burghley House, Lincolnshire

Open Science

Open Science is the process by which ‘Open’ approaches to undertaking research, education and outreach are embedded in the daily work of academic and academic support staff. I have been asked to lead on a number of policy developments: revision of the UCL Research Data Policy and construction of a new UCL Bibliometrics Policy. I look forward to working with Library colleagues, particularly with those involved in open access, research data management, bibliometrics, academic liaison and public engagement/outreach across UCL.

I have also been asked to study the reporting of trials data (especially clinical trials) and, particularly, negative results. In conventional publishing, it would be unusual to report negative findings, but the underlying data may well be of importance to further research. So ‘Open’ approaches encourage the publication of negative results. I look forward to working with colleagues in UCL Press and those involved in academic liaison to take this forward. And, finally, the Library has been asked to lead on the organisation of a half-day Open Science Workshop for UCL in Term 2.

Collections and Culture

In terms of Collections and Culture, UCL hopes to continue discussions in the University of London regarding collaborative activity over Rare Books, Manuscripts and Archives.

Great Hall, Burghley House

Great Hall, Burghley House, Lincolnshire

I will be pressing ahead with these discussions. I also hope to work with colleagues in UCL Culture to identify further modes of collaboration and joint working. Of course, in terms of digital collecting the Library has one of the best digital library offerings of any university in the UK. We will continue to develop this, with a particular emphasis on e-book offerings. In 2016/17, ReadingLists@UCL achieved a remarkable target – 65% of all courses present in Portico had an online Reading List. This is a great achievement, but of course going forwards we want to do even better.

Open Access publishing

In UCL Press, we have the first open access University Press in the UK. We now want to develop the Press’s offering and we plan to do this in two ways. First, we want to re-invent the concept of a journal in the digital age, and in 2017/18 we will be developing an Open journals platform to allow UCL academics and others to construct their own peer reviewed journals. Second, we want to re-invent the textbook for an Open, digital age. In this regard, we have already initiated a call for UCL textbooks and we hope to build on the submissions to create a new mode of delivery for textbook materials. We also intend to further develop our links and collaborative working with the UCL IOE Press.

UK Scholarly Communications Licence

And finally, I have been asked to lead in UCL on consideration of the UK Scholarly Communications Licence (UKSCL). Indeed, I chair the national UKSCL Steering Group.

Via this licence, if adopted, each staff member would grant to UCL a non-exclusive, irrevocable, worldwide licence to make manuscripts of his or her scholarly articles publicly available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial v4 (CC BY NC) licence. The benefits of adopting this licence are significant, the main ones being that

  • academics submitting to REF 2021 can more easily comply with REF’s Open Access requirements
  • a complete record of the full-text of academics’ publications is available
  • research outputs can be used more easily in taught course programmes

The licence is based on a similar development at Harvard University and Princeton University has recently adopted a similar position. Discussions with publishers about the implementation of the licence are ongoing. I look forward to working with our copyright and open access teams in the Library as well as with all colleagues engaged in academic liaison to take this debate to academic colleagues.

The role of Pro-Vice-Provost in the Library is a recognition of the immense contribution that the whole Library makes to the corporate life of UCL in offering leadership and secure learning environments and services. The areas outlined above are ones on which I will be concentrating in the coming months, alongside the day-to-day running of the family of libraries in UCL Library Services. I look forward to many interactions with colleagues as we take this ambitious agenda forward.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)


Biomedical and Health Information Summer School 2017 – Bookings now open

Angela CYoung25 May 2017

Bookings are now being taken for the Biomedical and Health Information Summer School 2017, a series of training and professional development sessions which aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of UCL Library Services staff to better enable them to answer enquiries and support the needs of UCL and NHS library users. Although some sessions have a biomedical or health emphasis, some are generic in their nature and relevant to library staff from any discipline.

The programme this year has a variety of sessions pitched at a range of levels, running throughout June and July:

  • Literature searching: the essentials OR A flipped learning experience
  • Critical appraisal library staff journal club
  • Reference management software training and support forum
  • Systematic Review Support Forum
  • PubMed and OvidSP: training the trainer
  • Research Data Management for biomedical and health librarians

As in previous years there is an online component – Literature searching: the essentials OR A flipped learning experience. This combined online and face to face experience is perfect for novice literature searchers to learn the basics, but it’s also a chance for staff interested in flipped learning to experience it first hand. If you can’t make the face to face session, feel free to work through the online component only.

Full details of the programme are available on LibNet. Sessions are open to all UCL Library Services staff, however priority will be given to those based on biomedical sites. Please ensure you have the permission of your line manager to attend.

Please email info.skills@ucl.ac.uk to book a place or for further information. Please include your name, site/team, telephone number, email address, and the session(s) you wish to attend. Alternatively contact Angela Young (angela.young@ucl.ac.uk, 020 7794 0500 x33201) or Steven Bembridge (steven.bembridge@ucl.ac.uk, 020 7794 0500 x38238).

Best wishes,