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The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris17 October 2018

Autumn Report to UCL Library Committee

Yesterday, Library Committee met for its first meeting of the 2018/19 academic session. As usual, I gave a Report on the Library’s performance against the Library Strategy. My full Report can be read here in the document PVP Report October 2018.

I recently visited the Science Museum here in London and I was struck by the exhibits on space exploration – particularly this model of the lunar module, a craft which enabled spectacular achievements when the USA implemented a lunar programme.

Yesterday, it was my privilege to report on the outstanding achievements of UCL Library Services too – in terms of its delivery of the 2015-18 Library Strategy. 95% of all the Actions identified in the 6 Implementation Plans have been delivered, or are on target to be delivered. It’s a tremendous result, applauded by members of Library Committee.

In my Report, I highlighted a number of achievements:

  • The Library being Highly Commended, for the second time in 3 years, in the Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards (THELMA) 2018;
  • the inscription of UCL’s Orwell archive onto the UNESCO Memory of the World International Register.

I also highlighted two challenges for the Library in the new Strategy period 2019-21:

  • How to increase the Library’s satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey (NSS) to 90% from the present 85% (q19).
  • How to engage with UCL researchers, to encourage them to make their research data FAIR and Open for sharing and re-use, ideally in the new research data repository that UCL is launching in the academic year 2018-19.

All members of Library staff should feel congratulated by the success of delivering the 2015-18 Library Strategy. We face challenges ahead in the new Strategy period, but we have already achieved a great deal – on which we can build going forwards.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris14 October 2018

SMT Working Groups

On 10 and 23 August, I wrote to inform colleagues of the imminent restructure of the Library’s Senior Management Team. An enlarged Senior Management Team came into being on 1 September, and we had our first meeting on 19 September. Amongst other things, we celebrated the successful launch of Alma, surveyed circulation activity for 2017/18 and approved the creation (for a pilot of 1 year) of a Special Collections Fellowship, which we hope will attract academics to come and work on UCL Special Collections materials.

With the re-creation of SMT, we have also set up new SMT Working Groups to advise SMT on detailed policy and operational issues which shape the Library. The complete Membership and Terms of Reference can be seen in the report SMT and Working Groups. There are five new Working Groups:

  • Budget Executive Group (Chair: Paul Ayris)
  • HR Working Group (Chair: Martin Moyle)
  • Library Estates Operations Board (Chair: Ben Meunier)
  • Staff Training & Development Oversight Group (Chair: Kate Cheney)
  • Survey Response Working Group (Chair: June Hedges)

With the start of the new academic year, these Working Groups are now beginning to meet and will make regular reports to SMT. Please feel free to contact the Chairs if you have any questions/comments.

Now that the new term is upon us, I thank all colleagues for all the work they have put in to welcome our new and returning students; and to ensure that the Library runs smoothly at the start of a busy academic year.

Paul Ayris


UCL Library Services

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris23 August 2018

New SMT and associated Working Groups

Felbrigg Hall

On 10 August, I wrote to expain how the Library’s Senior Management Team was being restructured and enlarged. The role of the SMT is to oversee policy developments and the daily operation of the Library. The SMT will also meet regularly as the Library Strategy Committee, to oversee the development and implementation of the new Library Strategy. The new SMT comes into being on 1 September. Its membership and Terms of Reference can be found here.

As SMT, the new Committee will meet monthly (rather than every 2 weeks). It will also act as parent for a series of Working Groups, the purpose of which is to support the business of the SMT.

The Working Groups do not supersede and are not substitutes for established Library Services committees and groups, such as the Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. SMT WG chairs will be responsible for ensuring appropriate join-up between their Groups and any relevant established committees.

Broadly, the SMT Working Groups will have 4 functions. These are as follows:

  • To advise SMT on new developments and future strategy in their respective areas of business
  • To ensure that SMT and UCL policy decisions are implemented effectively and equitably across Library Services
  • To take ownership of matters of operational detail in their respective areas on behalf of SMT
  • To make regular reports to SMT through their chairs.

The following Working Groups are proposed, each with a chair and membership drawn from SMT:

  • Budget Executive Group (Chair: Paul Ayris)
  • HR Working Group (Chair: Martin Moyle)
  • Estates Oversight Group (Chair: Ben Meunier)
  • Survey Response Team (Chair: June Hedges)
  • Staff Training and Development Strategy Group (Chair: Kate Cheney)

The full Membership and Terms of Reference for each of these Working Groups will be circulated via a LibNet Blog posting once signed off by the new SMT in September.

Good governance is essential to the successful running of the Library and the wellbeing of our staff and students. I look forward to the enlarged SMT playing a full and successful role in the daily life of UCL Library Services.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris14 August 2018

Library Strategy 2015-18: how did we do?

The Library Strategy 2015-18 formally ends in August 2018. In it, we set ourselves 94 goals to be delivered by the end of the Strategy period. How did we perform against our objectives? Our aim was to complete 90% of the Actions during the Strategy period. Here is an analysis of what we actually achieved.

There were 6 Key Performance Areas (KPA):

  1. User experience
  2. Staff, equality and diversity
  3. Finance, management information & value for money
  4. Systems and processes
  5. Sustainable estate
  6. Communication, Open Access & outreach

The results were as follows:

KPA Done Green Amber Red Total
1 16 3 0 0 19
2 17 2 1 0 20
3 14 1 0 0 15
4 12 4 1 0 17
5 8 0 1 1 10
6 12 0 1 0 13
Total 79 10 4 1 94

Done = Action performed

Green = Action not completed in Strategy period, but fully expected to be completed in the coming months

Amber = Difficulties meant that the desired Action could not be fully completed

Red = Difficulties meant that Action was impossible to complete

Taking the Done and Green Actions together, this means that 95% of the Action lines in the Implementation Plans for the 6 KPAs have been delivered.

There are many, many fine achievements to record. Speaking personally, let me highlight just one which has been particularly successful.

Sustainable Estate Action 5:


We will continue to seek opportunities to develop new learning spaces. Library will benchmark provision against international competition.


£1.4M additional funding agreed for learning space projects in summer 2018. In total, an additional 534 study spaces were opened during 2016-17 across UCL Library Services, mostly completed in summer 2017. Ratio of students:seat will be better than the Russell Group average after the New Student Centre opens in early 2019.

The Library, Houghton Hall, Norfolk

This is a tremendous outcome. The 2018 NSS results for UCL were recently published. Q19 is: The library resources (e.g. books, online services and learning spaces) have supported my learning well. The level of satisfaction expressed by UCL students was 85%, up 2% on last year’s score. One of the reasons for this is undoubtedly the increase in learning space provision which the Library can offer. And we hope that this improvement will continue into 2019, when the New Student Centre opens in February with 1,000 new digitally-enabled learning spaces.

There are many narratives like this that can be constructed to illustrate the tremendous work that all members of Library staff have done to deliver the 2015-18 Strategy.  I have enjoyed attending departmental and team meetings, along with colleagues, to discuss strategic directions. The feedback and suggestions we have received are excellent and we will take note of them as the new Strategy is developed in detail. I thank you for your contribution and look forward to working with you all in the new Strategy period, once the new Library Strategy is signed off by Library Committee in the autumn term.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris13 August 2018

UCL Press takes top spot

JSTOR has just published a list of its most downloaded Open Access books. I am happy to report that UCL Press has published 3 of its 10 most downloaded titles, coming in as nos. 1, 2 and 4 in the JSTOR Top Ten List.

JSTOR is a highly selective digital library of academic content in many formats and disciplines. The collections include top peer-reviewed scholarly journals as well as respected literary journals, academic monographs, research reports from trusted institutes, and primary sources. JSTOR has tremendous market penetration worldwide, particularly in North America.

JSTOR houses (13/8/18) 3,091 Open Access books from 42 publishers. One of these publishers is, of course, UCL Press.

How the World Changed Social Media

The most downloaded book in JSTOR is reported here. This is Professor Danny Miller’s book on How the World Changed Social Media, published of course by UCL Press.

Looking at all platforms, where UCL Press books can be accessed, the following stats (up to May 2018) tell their own story:

UCL Press content has been downloaded 1,217,819 times. Downloads have now taken place in 225 countries.

Of the three titles appearing in the JSTOR top 10, these are the total number of downloads recorded by UCL Press from all platforms (to May 2018):

JSTOR no. 1: How the World Changed Social Media – 238,945 downloads from all platforms

JSTOR no. 2: Social Media in Industrial China – 60,707 downloads from all platforms

JSTOR no. 4: Social Media in an English Village – 50,134 downloads from all platforms

There is no doubt that Open Access monograph publishing is changing the way such information is authored, used and disseminated across the world. Under the current publishing model, sales of 200 print copies would be a good result. Open Access monograph publishing, where the default is digital and freely available as Open Access copy, is transformative. And UCL is leading the way.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)


The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris10 August 2018

New Senior Management Team

The current Library Strategy has now formally been completed and a report on the Library’s success in achieving its objectives in the 94 Action lines will be presented at the next meeting of Library Committee.

The Library Strategy is currently overseen by the Leadership Team. The role of the Senior Management Team (SMT) is  different – to oversee the operation of the Library on a daily basis and to lead on policy development. The fantastic work of both teams was highly commended as part of the Library’s entry in the THELMA Awards for 2018.

The new Library Strategy is currently in the final stages of being developed and will be signed off by Library Committee in the first meeting of the new academic session. Feedback has suggested that some colleagues find the distinction between the Leadership Team and the Senior Management Team difficult to understand. You said, and we listened. So, for the coming Strategy period, the two committees will be merged into one. The revised Membership and Terms of Reference can be seen in the new set of SMT Terms of Reference.

SMT will continue to meet regularly as it is the primary policy-making group in the Library. Its actions and decisions set the framework within which initiatives and projects are progressed throughout UCL Library Services. Within UCL Library Services, it has ultimate responsibility for all the Library’s services and infrastructure. However, for 3 meetings a year, the SMT will become the Library Strategy Committee. In this form, it will oversee the preparation, communication, delivery and maintenance of the new UCL Library Services Strategy, which will set the Library’s overall priorities for the duration of each Strategy period.

The change to the new committee structure takes place on 1 September 2018. Please do not hesitate to ask me, or any member of the new SMT, if you have any questions.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris7 July 2018

LIBER Conference 2018 (Association of European Research Libraries)

4-6 July saw the 47th LIBER Annual Conference take place in Lille. The theme of the meeting was Research Libraries as an Open Science Hub: from Strategy to Action.

The venue for the Conference was the LILLIAD, the Learning Centre for Innovation at the University of Lille. With easy metro links from the centre of Lille and Lille Europe, which is serviced by Eurostar, Lille is one of the easiest cities to reach from London on the continent of Europe.

The theme of the meeting, attended by 430 delegates from across Europe, was centred on turning Open Science theory into practice. The meeting started with a speech by Professor Dr Frédérique Vidal, Minister of Higher Education, Research and Innovation in France. The Minister launched A National Open Science Plan for France at the meeting – a great coup to have European libraries host such a prestigious launch.

I was joint author of a paper at the Conference, along with our UCL Press European representative, Dr Tiberius Ignat, on the cultural change needed in universities and by Society to embrace the changes that Open Science brings. The photo to the left shows our audience (including 2 members of UCL Library Services) assemble in sweltering (!) heat to listen to the paper, which we intend to publish in the coming months. This is important because attendance at the LIBER Conference each year forms one of my 3 training activities required by the UCL Appraisal process. To this requirement, I personally add into my Appraisal objectives that I speak at one international meeting each year, where the written text of the presentation is peer reviewed and published in Open Access.

The Conference was full of discussion about the role of libraries in offering a leadership role in introducing Open Science practices into universities. There were also many practical examples to offer Best Practice. One excellent example came from the libraries of Catalonia, presented by Anna Rovira and Dr Ignasi Labastida from Barcelona. The Catalans have developed a collaborative model for measuring levels of compliance with Open Access by academics, allowing benchmarking across Catalonia.

But back to the LILLIAD. The recent merger of 3 universities in Lille has created a wonderful opportunity for the University Librarian of the merged libraries, Julien Roche, to create a blueprint for what the 21st century library looks like. A central theme is one of Innovation. The picture to the left shows a typical set of learning spaces in this impressive building. In many ways, it mirrors what the learning spaces in the UCL Student Centre, to be run by the Library from the New Year, will look like. But UCL has gone one step further than Lille. The LILLIAD houses paper collections, largely in science and technology, but the Student Centre in UCL will be a 100% digital learning experience, open 24 hours a day.

I have returned from the 47th LIBER Conference full of optimism about the leading role that libraries can play in the Open Science agenda. UCL Library Services is already seen as a European leader in this space, and this activity will develop further as we adopt a new Library Strategy. It is an exciting time to be leading such a monumental change in European universities.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)




The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris28 June 2018

UCL Open Science Workshop

25 June saw the first UCL Open Science Workshop take place in Chancellor’s Hall, Senate House. 60+ people attended the sessions, a mixture of library staff, academic colleagues and external visitors.

The day was opened with a welcome from Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research), a great supporter of UCL’s emerging Open Science agenda. I then followed with an analysis of the LERU Roadmap for Open Science from the League of European Research Universities. We were then treated to a masterly view of Open Science from the point of view of a publisher, led by Dr Catriona MacCallum from Hindawi. Professor James Wilsdon from the University of Sheffield ended the session with an overview of the responsible use of metrics in an Open Science environment.

After the break, we heard from Simon Hettrick on Open Source software and an academic, Dr Emily Sena from the University of Edinburgh, on how Open Science approaches can help in pre-clinical work.

The morning’s plenaries set the scene for a lot of detailed discussion of Open Science issues by those attending. In the afternoon, we had 5 Breakout Groups:

  • How do we make Open the default at UCL?
  • How to make your data Open and FAIR
  • UCL Press: engaging in Open Peer Review
  • Open Education: Introducing OpenEd@UCL
  • Citizen Science

The feedback from the audience in each of these 5 areas was great and will seed lots of development work in the coming 12 months. A UCL Panel – Dr Paul Ayris (Pro-Vice-Provost, UCL Library Services), Professor David Bogle (Pro-Vice-Provost, UCL Doctoral School), and Clare Gryce (Director of Research IT Services, UCL ISD) – then fielded questions from the audience about the emerging role of Open Science in UCL. The day ended with a final plenary from Rebecca Lawrence from F1000 on embedding Open Science in university culture.

This was the first Open Science Workshop organised by UCL, with financial support from UCL HR. It will certainly not be the last. Open Science, which embraces all academic disciplines including the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, has the power to transform the way that research, teaching, learning and outreach are undertaken, and how their outputs are disseminated, made available and curated for all members of an enquiring Society. UCL has an ambition to be a leader in Open Science across Europe and the holding of this first Workshop was an important step towards achieving that goal.

Paul Ayris


UCL Library Services

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

Paul Ayris13 June 2018

Open Science is launched

12 June saw the launch of an important paper on Open Science in Brussels. This was Open Science and its role in universities: a roadmap for cultural change, which can be found here. As chair of the Editorial Group which wrote the paper, I worked with 3 colleagues from LERU (League of European Research Universities) – Dr Ignasi Labastida (University of Barcelona), Katrien Maes (LERU) and Alea López de San Román (LERU).

The paper looks at the opportunity for cultural change in universities to enable Open Science, and how that change can be introduced with the support of all stakeholders in the academic community. Open Science represents a fundamental shift in how research, teaching, learning and support activities are undertaken at institutional level. It is a global agenda, but one which is particularly being promoted by the European Commission. It will form one of the main pillars of the new European framework programme Horizon Europe.

The launch began with a presentation which I made on LERU’s understanding of how Open Science makes a difference at university level, using the 8 pillars of Open Science as defined by the European Commission. Whilst this list of issues is not an exhaustive list of themes covered by the topic of Open Science, it does represent a good starting point for any investigations:

  • Future of Scholarly Communication
  • EOSC (European Open Science Cloud)
  • FAIR data
  • Skills
  • Research Integrity
  • Rewards
  • Altmetrics
  • Citizen Science

I then described the opportunities and challenges that Open Science brings in each of these areas. In Scholarly Communication, I cited the work of UCL Press as an example of the transformative changes that institutional Open Access publishing can deliver. In the area of Citizen Science, I described the importance for universities of re-engaging with Society in order to enable the results of teaching and research to help solve the challenges which we all face.

Open peer review of the LERU paper

Following the presentation of the paper, we had a session of Open Peer review where 4 panel members commented on the paper – one senior official from the European Commission, one representative of a university association, one research funding organization and one publisher. Everyone was unanimous in agreeing with the main conclusions of the paper. One of the comments was that this was one of the best papers written on the impact of Open Science in a university setting. The LERU Secretary General was also fulsome in his praise for the ideas in the paper, as revealed by his tweet after the event:

A fantastic lead author and speaker @ucylpay, a fantastic panel @evamen @BurgelmanJean @Researchkuster @StefEurope, a fantastic paper and a fantastic audience ! Great launch event this morning @Alea_LdSR @katrien_maes @ignasi @BartValkenaers ! Thanks all ! @bertvanderzwaan

But now the work really begins, because the Editorial Group has been commissioned to construct an Open Science Toolkit to support universities in acting on all the 41 Recommendations which the paper contains.

In the 15th century, the invention of moveable type printing in the West revolutionized the way ideas were disseminated across Europe. In the 21st century, Open Science has the potential to do the same at a global level. Open Science is an area where UCL is taking a lead at a European level, and UCL Library Services is making an outstanding contribution in embedding Open Science approaches across the university.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)



Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris22 May 2018

UCL Press celebrates 1 million downloads

21 May 2018 was a very special day for UCL Press, because this is when we officially celebrated 1 million downloads of our research monographs, textbooks and journals.

The Press was founded in 2015 and has now been in production for 3 years. It is a tremendous achievement to have reached the magical figure of 1 million downloads so quickly. Initially, I thought that it would be a result if we achieved 10,000 downloads any time soon. How wrong can you be? The festive party for UCL Press was attended by senior members of the university, UCL academics, our authors, UCL students, and honoured guests. It was held in the North Cloisters on a sunny, warm Spring evening.

There were three speakers at the event. Professor David Price, Vice-Provost (Research), congratulated the Press on achieving its remarkable impact figures and pointed out that UCL Press titles were now downloaded in 222 countries and territories. This includes North Korea, where UCL Press titles even there have been downloaded 15 times.

The second speaker was Georgina Brewis. Georgina has just revised The World of UCL, which is UCL’s institutional history.

As Georgina explained, she did more than add an extra chapter to bring the history up to date. She rigorously pruned the number of images in the book, many of which are from UCL Special Collections, and ensured that UCL’s commitment to equality and diversity are reflected in the earlier materials in the book. Beautifully designed and produced, the new institutional history of UCL is a worthy addition to the UCL Press stable.

Finally, I was able to complete the trio of speeches with a few words of my own.

At the present rate of download (90,000 per month), we will reach 2 million downloads this time next year. So, certainly time for another party. I also recounted a story about the European Commission, who were represented at the latest meeting of LERU Rectors. On Saturday, I was present with the Provost in Edinburgh to seek acceptance by the 23 Rectors of LERU (League of European Research Universities) of the new LERU Roadmap for Open Science. Lessons from UCL Press figure largely in this Roadmap. Open Access publishing performed by an institutional Press has the power to transform the way research outputs are stored, disseminated and used by all those in Society with an enquiring mind.

So congratulations to UCL Press colleagues, to our authors and to everyone in UCL who helps to make the Press such a fantastic success. Let’s look to the next 1 million downloads, coming your way soon…

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)