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The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris30 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)


The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris19 August 2017

The future of monograph publishing

The future of the scholarly monograph is much debated in academic and publishing circles. Dwindling print sales and pressure on library acquisition funds mean that the future of the scholarly monograph as a unit of output is in some doubt. A recent report, The Academic Book of the Future, underlined the drop in sales figures being experienced by such monographs.

In a recent letter, published by the THE (Times Higher Education), 17-23 August 2017, p. 29, I offered evidence from the experiences of UCL Press to cast light on this thorny topic. Here is the letter as it was published:

Open optimism

Annual Report 15-16In her article “Open access monograph dash could lead us off a cliff” (Opinion [in THE], 27 July), Marilyn Deegan warns of the dangers of open access monograph publishng”. As head of UCL Press, the UK’s first fully open access university press, let me look at some of these concerns in more detail.

UCL Press has been in existence as an open access press since June 2015. In that time, we have published 42 books. These have been downloaded, along with our journals, 448,524 times. The most downloaded book, How the World Changed Social Media, has been downloaded 127,836 times. It is still possible to purchase copies of all UCL Press books in other formats, digital and paper, and these comprise 4,795 copies to date – an average of just over 114 per title. In addition, UCL Press titles are downloaded in 218 countries and dependencies around the world.

If it is true, as The Academic Book of the Future report shows, that monograph sales have fallen from an average of 100 to 60 per book in the UK in the past decade, the figures from UCL Press seem to show that open access represents a lifeline. Far from killing the book, open access is a possible route to salvation in an area of publishing that otherwise seems to be in terminal decline.

Paul Ayris


Building Team Blog: Year End Review 2016-17

Collette E M Lawrence18 August 2017

If you have any queries or problems please contact the team by e-mail:

lib-buildings@ucl.ac.uk monitored Mon-Fri 07:15-17:15

Over the last year, we have created an additional 579 study spaces across various locations in UCL to enhance the user experience!

There is a lot to celebrate in the Library Buildings Team Year End Review for 2016-17! Following investment of over £1M, we have been able to make major progress towards the Library’s Sustainable Estate component of the Library Strategy. A further update will document the (nearly) completed PCs for Students project, which has been a significant undertaking this summer. Below are some highlights on projects we have completed in the last 12 months:

  • Creating a new Special Collections reading room in Bloomsbury. Whilst the majority of our Special Collections material is based at The National Archives in Kew, we host a number of visitors on campus to look at some of our treasures. In order to provide facilities befitting our worked-class collections, the former Records Office in the South Junction was converted into a high-quality reading room. With a new reception desk, two well-appointed reading rooms and staff office space, the area feels light and spacious thanks to floor to ceiling glass doors. In order to guarantee an excellent user experience and to ensure the preservation of our rare books and archives, the reading room is fitted with special security systems, regulated temperature, a cloakroom area and lockers for visitors’ storage.

A selection of Special Collections treasures were on show at the event.

  • Cruciform Hub –
    • a new glass partition now provides more privacy (and quiet) for the Library Desk, where staff can assist users with library and IT enquiries a new display area for busts of former professors of UCL was set up in order to provide another nod to the history of UCL Medical School. The busts on display were salvaged from the store in 140 Hampstead Rd and were conserved by UCL. The students seminar rooms were redecorated to ensure that the Hub continues to look and feel like a fresh and innovative learning environment Bench seating was added in the seminar area in order to increase seating capacity in the Hub improved accessibility to the self-service machines in order to allow wheelchair users full access to the equipment
  • IOE Library
    • new reception desk and self service area to create a more accessible student and staff area Level 4 staff office, upgraded furniture, to create a better working environment ensuring the space is used to its full potential.
  • Main Library
    • Art and Economics: created additional study spaces by re-arranging book shelves in Donaldson reading room: installed power to new desks and new lighting on the pillars installed an additional water fountain at the end of the History corridor installed three additional toilet suites, including the first set of male toilets ever in the Main Library
    • The Portico Doors have been refurbished, with new glass doors fitted to enable views of the Flaxman Gallery and the Front Quad.

      New Portico DoorsNew Portico Doors April 2017

  • School of Pharmacy – replaced and upgraded quiet study area, increasing the number of study spaces
  • Science Library
    • Learning Lab: in a 2-phase refurbishment, the space has been transformed following UX principles, based on Customer Journey Mapping work undertaken by the Customer Service Team. The refurbishment created a new access route for membership and unified the Enquiry, ISD, Help Point and Collection Point desks. The project also enabled the installation of a new autosorter, student and staff pods for individual work, group work and for consultation. Three Laptop Loan machines containing 48 laptops in total were introduced for student use.   A Sodexo Café opened within the Learning Lab, which incorporates flexible seating, and is being used this summer to host a research exhibition. Finally, the project replaced carpets and redecorated throughout, and introduced a new LED lighting system.
    • Lighting Project – A full lighting upgrade for the all floors 1st – 4th floors staff and student spaces, they had their lamps changed to low energy LED lamps which give natural feeling lighting. Daylight sensors dim the lights when its bright outside and motion sensors to turn the lights off when no one is present. The project will save 270 tonnes of CO2 per year, about the same produced from powering 40 average households!
    • The first floor toilets were refurbished
    • The Stores and Records Office area were refurbished, creating a combined Stores and Records Office
  • Wickford Stores – repaired and upgraded roller racking

How can library staff support Research Data Management?

ucyldva4 August 2017

The Research Data Management (RDM) team recently ran two training sessions on RDM aimed at library staff. The first of these sessions was aimed at subject liaison librarians. The second was organised by Angela Young as part of the series the Summer School and was primarily aimed at library staff working in biomedical libraries.

Both sessions aimed to provide an introduction (or reminder) of the aims behind RDM, the services available at UCL to support researchers and to discuss how library staff can support RDM. As part of our ongoing work to develop the services we offer to support researchers with RDM, we are trying to increase the amount of subject specific resources and guidance available. Different disciplines can have very different types of data, different approaches to working with data or a perception that they don’t work with data. Working with colleagues in the library who support researchers across the disciples represented at UCL should help us develop better support for researches.

As part of both of the sessions, we had a number of different exercises. One of the exercises involved mapping out the interactions library staff and services have with researchers at different stages of the research lifecycle. We asked participants to work in groups to discuss whether the lifecycles accurately reflected the research process and decide on their preferred model. We then asked participants to annotate their chosen lifecycle with points where they may have interactions with researchers.

lifecycleOne of the challenges for the RDM team is trying to engage researchers earlier in their research process so we can help advocate for good practices in storing and collecting data which in turn makes data sharing easier at the end of a project. Mapping out the lifecycles with colleagues from the library gave us useful insights into where potential opportunities may be available for RDM advocacy. During the sessions, we also discussed how existing activities carried out by library staff (training, open access advocacy, signposting, research support…) and the existing skills of library staff can complement RDM advocacy.

We are planning to collate the research lifecycles produced during the sessions and turn it into a resource for us to use when planning advocacy. If you are interested in contributing to developing a lifecycle model with us send an email to lib-academicsupport@ucl.ac.uk.

Helen Mirren, Katya Galitzine and other guests at the joint UCL SSEES Library and British Library panel discussion

Wojciech A Janik9 June 2017

On Monday 5th June a panel discussion “Émigrés from Revolution” took place at the British Library. It was a joint event between UCL SSEES Library and the British Library and was inspired by our collections.

Martin Sixsmith provided the introduction


Martin Sixsmith, Katya Galitzine and Helen Mirren taking questions from the audience

The year 2017 marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution. One of the main events “in the library world”, to focus on the centenary is a major exhibition at the British Library: “Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths”. The exhibition is accompanied by various events, panels and seminars. That provided a great opportunity for UCL Library Services to co-organise, with the British Library, a public event, which would highlight our collections. To make it more lively and interesting we wanted it to be presented by the descendants of emigrants from the Russian Revolution, so that they could reflect, after one hundred years, on how the history of their grandparents has influenced and still influences them and their families. It provided us with the opportunity to showcase some of our archival holdings, especially as many of the descendants had very successful careers. We are lucky enough to have in our archives documents that were donated by world famous actress, Dame Helen Mirren. Her grandfather, Colonel Pyotr Vasilievich Mironov, initially came to the UK with the aim of buying arms for the Russian Army during World War One. Another example is the memoir of Prince Paul Ivan Lieven, that belonged to the grandfather of well-known historian, Professor Dominic Lieven. We were very lucky once again as both Dame Helen Mirren and Professor Dominic Lieven accepted invitations to the event. Princess Katya Galitzine, whose grandparents escaped via Yalta on a British warship sent to rescue Dowager Empress Maria Feodorovna also accepted the invitation. However, there is also another “library link” as Katya is a co-Founder of The Prince George Galitzine Memorial Library.


Nicolas Pasternak Slater [L] and Dominic Lieven [R]

Our fourth guest was successful translator Nicolas Pasternak Slater, the son of Boris Pasternak’s sister Lydia, and the grandson of painter Leonid Pasternak and Rosa Isidorovna Kaufman, an accomplished pianist. Martin Sixsmith, former BBC foreign correspondent based in Moscow at the end of the Soviet Union, moderated the discussion, while Professor Simon Dixon from UCL SSEES provided an introduction to the event and highlighted UCL SSEES Library’s archive collections.


From left to right: Nicolas Pasternak Slater, Dominic Lieven, Martin Sixsmith, Katya Galitzine, Helen Mirren

The event was a success. The panel was excellent and the attendance was very good. It was a very good way to promote our collections. It also enabled us to foster good working relationships with colleagues from the British Library, especially Jon Fawcett, Head of Events, and Katya Rogatchevskaya, Lead Curator of East European Collections. The cooperation was very successful so it may also lead to another joint event in the future. Of course for us it is not the end. UCL SSEES will hold a major conference later this year to commemorate the centenary of the Revolution and we need to focus on that and build on the success of the event. We would like to digitise selected items from our collection, so that they can accompany the main UCL SSEES Conference. During the panel I had a chance to talk to Helen Mirren and her sister Kate and managed to obtain permission to digitise the documents of Colonel Pyotr Mironov. Professor Lieven has also given permission for the memoir of Prince Paul Ivan Lieven to be digitised. Together with colleagues from Digital Curation, Mat Mahon and Amy Howe, we are working on digitising some other collections from our archives.

Pyotr Vasilievich Mironov Collection [MRN]

Pyotr Vasilievich Mironov Collection [MRN] held at UCL SSEES Library

Our aim is that by the time of the conference we can create a high-quality, professional and academic resource. During 2017 there will be many events dedicated to the Revolution. However it is noteworthy to say that UCL SSEES is one of the best well-known and recognised institutions in the world for its expert knowledge on Russia. Therefore, December’s conference organised by UCL SSEES will attract a lot of attention. This provides UCL SSEES Library with the momentum we need to maximize to our benefit, so that we can effectively publicize our work and our unique collections to the world audience.

Transforming Our Professional Services (TOPS): share any Library staff ideas or queries to TOPS team

Benjamin Meunier31 May 2017

The latest briefing on Transforming Our Professional Services has been released and is available at TOPS_LeadershipBriefing_Edition8_v1.0.

Some responses from UCL academics on the research support services offered by Library Services

Some examples of feedback from UCL academics on the “responsive and helpful” research support services offered by Library Services.

Since my last update, two colleagues from the Library Senior Management Team (June Hedges, Head of Liaison and Support Services, and Kate Cheney, Head of Site Library Services) attended the TOPS “world café event” on Research Support for academics, which was held on 24/05. Feedback from academics about the Library’s Open Access work and support for researchers was very positive, including references to subject librarians and local support across UCL.


As previously advertised, the Library SMT meets on 7th June and TOPS will be presenting on their findings in relation to Library Services and any potential impact. Given TOPS’ goals to enhance UCL processes and efficiency of many central UCL services including HR, Finance, IT and Estates, I believe we can expect to benefit from the programme.

I am arranging to meet separately with Geoff Dunk, Faculty Manager for Brain Sciences and one of the Design Leads (in tandem with Paul Ayris) for the TOPS Library Services work stream, since Geoff cannot join the Library SMT meeting. Following these two meetings, we will be in a better position to clearly explain how the Library workstream will be progressed, in line with the principles previously outlined by Paul Ayris and myself. The current functioning of the library, which perform very well, should not be disturbed by any new TOPS arrangements. Where there are opportunities to deliver better services in partnership with Professional Services, for instance in the areas mentioned in my previous paragraph, these should be pursued.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about TOPS?

If there are aspects of TOPS which you feel would be particularly helpful to explore further within Library Services or if you would like to submit any suggestions or queries to the TOPS team ahead of the meeting next week, please either contact me before 06/06 or, if you wish to share ideas with the TOPS consultants directly, you can write to Lee Bakewell.

Transforming Our Professional Services (TOPS) update

Benjamin Meunier19 May 2017

The seventh edition of the TOPS Fortnightly Leadership Briefing is available online:


The TOPS team will now be coming to the Library SMT meeting on 7th June to outline the work which they are undertaking and discuss how this relates to Library Services. If you have any questions for the TOPS team, please let us know and we can ask these on your behalf at the meeting.

I had a briefing meeting with our TOPS consultant earlier this week and was satisfied to hear that the anecdotal feedback TOPS have received at UCL about Library Services has been consistently positive; I believe that this reflects the commitment of staff to providing an excellent service. It is understood that current library operations, which perform very well, should not be disturbed by any new TOPS arrangements.

Library colleagues in the relevant teams will be formally invited to participate in the Finance, People/HR and Estates workstreams to consider the impact and opportunities for the improvement of services at UCL where Library Services is an internal customer.

All Library Services staff are welcome to submit ideas for improvements in the following areas:

Information and Technology Services Submit my ideas!
Planning, Policy and MI Services Submit my ideas!
Legal Services Submit my ideas!
Culture Services Submit my ideas!
Communication and Marketing Services Submit my ideas!

Some colleagues may be aware of a survey about the Library which was open on TOPS’ Vision and Design site (alongside the areas listed above). This was erroneously opened without input from Library Services and has now been de-activated. Library Services senior colleagues are in discussion with TOPS about how we might engage with a workstream focused on the research lifecycle (which starts with researchers identifying and applying for funding and concludes with communicating research outputs, including publication management).

UCL East: consultation

Benjamin Meunier11 May 2017

Two consultation exercises relating to UCL East are currently underway, and Library Services colleagues are invited to take part in both:

  • Help shape the website for UCL East

The UCL East programme is currently creating a new website, which will have the majority of the content that you can see on the site now, as well as the latest information about UCL East and an updated look and feel.

To make sure that the new website is relevant and helpful – and has all the information that you would like to know – the team would love to hear your views on our current site, how it can be developed and any suggestions for the future.

To give your thoughts and feedback, take a look around the current site and complete this survey – there are nine short questions, and it will only take a few minutes to complete.


  • Find out about the plans for the first building at UCL East

Pool Street West makes up part of the first phase of UCL East and will feature student accommodation, academic, retail, community and engagement uses for UCL students and staff and the public. The building will feature a London Memory Archive, a partnership between Culture Lab and Library Services which will include digitization facilities, an oral history recording booth and exhibition space. There will also be a Library to support the students and staff based on the new campus, which we are working to develop in tandem with ISD Student & Registry Services to provide joined-up services to students on site.

Public consultation meetings have been scheduled for the first UCL East building on Pool Street will take place on 17-20th May. Times, dates and locations are provided below.

Pool Street West – Road Show Exhibition Details

Wednesday 17 May, 11am – 2pm

UCL Bloomsbury | South Quad In front of the Print Room Café

Thursday 18 May, 11am – 2pm

UCL Bloomsbury | Main Quad South Side, in front of the Wilkins Building

Friday 19 May, 11am – 2pm

Stratford Broadway In the public space adjacent to St John’s

Saturday 20 May, 11am – 2pm

Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park At Waterworks Place, adjacent to the play fountain

If you are planning to attend the events in Stratford, further information can be found in this leaflet: stage1-roadshow-events-flyer.

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

Paul Ayris6 May 2017

LEARN End of Project Conference

5 May saw the final Conference in the 2-year EU-funded LEARN project on research data management (RDM), which has been led by UCL. This attracted 128 registrations in Senate House from 21 countries, with 95 institutions represented.

Deliverables IMG_4286The day opened with a keynote presentation by Professor Kurt Deketelaere (Secretary General of LERU, the League of European Research Universities). Kurt gave a challenging presentation on the need for universities to get serious about RDM. He noted the leadership role that Europe is playing in delivering RDM solutions. Further keynote addresses in the Programme from Spain and Finland amplified the theme from the point of view of research-intensive universities and infrastructure suppliers. Panel sessions with guest members answered questions from the audience on RDM and debated with each other the validity of current approaches and views.

After lunch, the Conference broke into 4 parallel Tutorials, for which UCL led 2. I gave a tutorial on how to use the 200-page LEARN Toolkit of 23 Best Practice Case Studies. June Hedges, Myriam Fellous-Sigrist and Daniel Van Strien also gave a tutorial on engaging early career researchers in RDM issues.

The final keynote was delivered by Dr Claudio Gutierrez of the University of Chile, illustrating with an apple and two books  that research data has become the new currency of the research environment.

The Conference marked the end of the LEARN project, which officially finishes at the close of the month. Twitter postings underline how valuable attenders found the event. CODATA and EUDAT have commended the Toolkit of Best Practice Case Studies. In one of the video podcasts from the day, a North American visitor commented that (as a result of his attendance) he felt Europe was more advanced than the USA in tackling RDM issues. This, and other podcasts, will be available on the LEARN website (along with videos of all the plenary sessions). The podcasts can currently be seen via Twitter and are discoverable under the hashtag #learnldn.

The LEARN partners have enjoyed working together so much over the last 2 years that we are already planning a LEARN II – this time focussed on the whole area of Open Science.

Paul Ayris


UCL Library Services shortlisted twice for national awards

Benjamin Meunier6 April 2017

For the second year running, UCL Library Services has been shortlisted for the prestigious Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards, for demonstrating best practice during the 2015-16 academic year. In this year’s selection, two UCL Library Services projects have been shortlisted as examples of sector-leading excellence.


  1. LEaders Activating Research Networks (LEARN)


The Outstanding Library Team award recognizes outstanding work in library and information-services departments. This year, it is the LEARN Project which is being recognised. Based at UCL in partnership with a number of European and other international partners, The purpose of LEARN is to take the LERU Roadmap for Research Data and to develop this in order to build a coordinated e-infrastructure across Europe and beyond.

LEARN will deliver:

  • a model Research Data Management (RDM) policy;
  • a Toolkit to support implementation, and;
  • an Executive Briefing in five core languages so as to ensure wide outreach.

In order to share knowledge about Research Data Management, LEARN has run a series of Workshops over 2016/17The Final Conference is due to take place in London on 5 May 2017.


2. UCL PressTHELMA_2017_SHORTLIST_1200x900_Badge_Digital_Innovation_of_the_Year

The Outstanding Digital Innovation of the Year award recognises the innovative use of digital technology to improve any function at a university. As the UK’s first fully open access university press, UCL Press has been pioneering a new model of scholarly communications. As highlighted in its first Annual Report, with over 100,000 downloads in 191 countries since its launch, UCL Press is going from strength to strength.


The fact that UCL Library Services is recognized by being shortlisted in both categories reflects UCL’s place as a leader in OA advocacy in Europe for 10 years. UCL’s financial investment in the Press supports its Global Engagement strategy, bringing UCL outputs to users around the world, thus adding value to the institution’s research. UCL Press is developing consultancy and hosting services to allow other universities to follow the UCL Press publishing model, or to use UCL Press infrastructure for their OA publishing, branded as their own university press. UCL Press and LEARN demonstrate how, as London’s Global University, UCL is leading the UK in the Open Science arena by harnessing world-leading research and cutting-edge technology to create impact via Open Access publishing.


I will inform you of the outcome of the awards ceremony, which is due to be held on 22 June. To be shortlisted for a THELMAs is already a significant achievement. Congratulations to all involved in securing this recognition for our excellent work as a department.