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LCCOS staff news


News for colleagues within the LCCOS department.


Archive for the 'Systems, Collections & Processes' Category

Help Us Test the Lean Library Browser Extension

By Bethan Smith, on 21 March 2023

We know that the best way for our users to find scholarly resources, such as articles and books, to support their research, is to use Explore, our subject guides, our databases A-Z list and other tools and guides that we manage. However, we also know that students use Google Scholar or web browsers to access content on publisher websites, and encounter paywalls, not realising that the content may be freely available to them through their library.  

There are tools available to connect users (when they are off-campus) with the full-text of resources they come across during web searches, if the library has access to them. These include Lean Library, LibKey Nomad and Endnote Click.  

Lean Library is a browser extension that works with multiple browsers to connect users to journal articles, and ebooks available through UCL Library Services. Several other academic libraries have subscribed to it, including Cambridge, UEA, and Cardiff.  

Library Services has a trial of Lean Library Access, for LCCOS staff only, from March 21st – June 20th 2023. The trial is being led by the Service Improvement and E-resources teams. A group has been created to support the trial, led by Margaret Stone and Karen Jeger, with Angela Young, Lindsay Ure and Dan O’Connor representing liaison colleagues. 

If you’d like to try out the browser extension, and help us by providing your feedback, please see our Lean Library trial guide for more information on how to install the extension, an overview of the features of Lean Library, and to access our feedback form 

Library Services Annual Feedback Review

By Bethan Smith, on 16 January 2023

As part of our work in the Library Services Feedback Management Working Group, we are pleased to announce the release of the first Annual Feedback Review for Library Services 

The review provides a reflection on the customer feedback received across Library Services during the 2021/22 academic year. For transparency we have decided to publish the review on LibNet, for all LCCOS staff to access and view. 

The report is split into two parts; a Part A and a Part B. Part A of the report is a summary of the feedback received across the academic year from all the prominent channels at Library Services, including qualitative and quantitative information.  

Part B outlines the work completed by the feedback management working group, as well as providing some space for reflection on the future of feedback management.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank all the colleagues involved in the data gathering process of this review and thank all colleagues who have been involved in any Feedback Management initiatives over the last year.  

We hope that the report will provide an opportunity to celebrate the successes and achievements of our staff community, as well as provide a reflective practice to target where we can improve on our feedback management in the future. The Feedback Management Working Group has completed its remit, while future initiatives will be overseen by the Service Improvement Steering Group. 

If you have any questions about the report, please do contact Bethan Smith. 

Reminder: Logging into Alma

By Tom Beauchamp, on 4 January 2023

ISD has advised that the Shibboleth authentication route to log into Alma will no longer be available from Thursday 5 January 2023, as it has been replaced by Microsoft Azure AD, as used when logging into Explore or accessing your UCL email account (see blog post Change to Logging Into Alma, 15 August 2022). This means that you will need to update any old Alma bookmarks to the new short URL.

Change to authentication method for EZproxy and SpringShare products

By Anna Sansome, on 16 December 2022

The authentication method for resources accessed via EZproxy, and for Springshare products such as LibCal and LibGuides, will be changing in January 2023.
UCL Shibboleth login screen

From January, instead of these platforms requiring users to login via Shibboleth (login screen shown left), authentication will switch to Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory (AAD) mechanism (login screen shown below). You should hopefully be familiar with this login method which is already in use by services such as LibNet, Explore and by Microsoft products such as Sharepoint.UCL AAD login screen

Please see below for further details about the change in the context of each platform:


EZproxy, our proxy server, is the main way we provide off-site access to electronic resources. From Wednesday 4th January 2023, users will login to the proxy server using AAD. This will happen automatically for any links that currently take the user via the proxy server and there is no need to update any links – the url of the proxy server is not changing.

Not all resources are accessed via the proxy server and users will continue to be prompted to authenticate with Shibboleth to certain resources, such as Clinical Key, Westlaw, BibliU and Kortext. In addition, users will continue to be able to use the “Login via your institution” options that are currently offered directly on resource websites.

Two tips which should help with user queries:

  • Only add @ucl.ac.uk to your username if you are logging in via AAD – for Shibboleth you just need to enter your username;
  • Users entitled to off-site access to electronic resources but affiliated with other organisations (for example, NHS staff with honorary UCL contracts) may already be logged in via AAD with non-UCL credentials. This can result in an error message when they try to authenticate to the proxy server as the existing non-UCL login is detected. Users should either use different browsers for UCL and non-UCL services or use a private / incognito tab in their existing browser to access UCL services.


The switch to AAD will take place on Thursday 5th January 2023, and will be applicable to all Springshare products such as LibCal, LibGuides and LibAnswers, as well as to all categories of user, staff and student.

Please also note that, because we feel end users are already familiar with AAD, we are not planning any specific communications for them.

Changing “Pers” in Journals Call Numbers

By Thomas P Meehan, on 14 December 2022

A lot of journals at UCL have typically been classified in the library alongside their respective book collections using the abbreviation “Pers” for “Periodicals”, e.g. HISTORY Pers or GEOSCIENCE Pers. Although convenient and short, it has not always been clear to either students or even library staff what “Pers” meant. There has long been a wish to change this to something like “Periodicals” and the Explore Advisory Group gave the go-ahead to this being done. I have now run a job on Alma to change call numbers so that they read as, e.g. HISTORY Periodicals or GEOSCIENCE Periodicals. I hope this is clearer for everyone who encounters journal call numbers.

Screenshot of Explore showing three call numbers ending in "Periodicals"

Screenshot of Explore showing three call numbers ending in “Periodicals” for the journal Nature

While this job was being run, I took the chance to change UNASSIGNED Alma Locations to match the appropriate Library and alter the type of call number to “Other” to match most other local classification schemes in Alma. Call numbers with “PERIODICALS” in all-capitals have also been changed to “Periodicals”.

I know that there are still a number of anomalies to sort out, including journal holdings records where some minor coding errors caused them to be excluded, UNASSIGNED holdings where the call number does not include “Pers” or “Periodicals”, as well as a number of books- especially in the Main Library- which lack items and are also UNASSIGNED.

Thank you to Laura Sapsford in particular for help, advice, and a large amount of groundwork that was needed to sort out the UNASSIGNEDs in particular.

Feedback Reference Analytics Dataset – Consultation

By Bethan Smith, on 17 November 2022

We would like to invite library colleagues involved in LibAnswers queues to give their views on a new feedback Reference Analytics dataset that we are aiming to launch in early 2023.

Through the work of the Library Feedback Management Working Group, it has become apparent that we have several channels for collecting customer feedback in the library. Sometimes the feedback from these channels is siloed, meaning it is difficult to conduct an overall analysis of our feedback.

We have undertaken research and consultation over the last year – including the Summer School Handling Feedback session and the ad hoc feedback survey with its follow up focus group – and have concluded from our findings that a LibAnswers Reference Analytics dataset would be an excellent way to collect our customer feedback quickly and in one place.

How the feedback dataset will work

We hope that using a second dataset will help to separate out enquiry and feedback information, meaning we can observe feedback trends across channels more easily.

Colleagues will fill out the new feedback dataset in a similar manner to the existing Reference Analytics dataset for enquiries – either by filling out the form at the end of a ticket, or adding a separate transaction. The dataset is designed to be used either on its own or in conjunction with the enquiries dataset. Please note that complaints we receive will need to adhere to our existing complaints procedure. For more information, please consult the Enquiries, Feedback and Complaints guide.

If any colleagues who do not have access to LibAnswers wish to pass on customer feedback, they can do so by completing the existing feedback form, which will be processed by colleagues on the platform.

How to give us your views on the feedback dataset

There are several ways that you can share on your views on the feedback dataset.

Consultation Form

The primary way we will collect your thoughts is through the consultation form, which you can fill out here: https://forms.office.com/r/tbKabrq94J

In the form are screenshots of each of the fields involved in the proposed feedback dataset, which you can comment on. There will also be an opportunity to provide general thoughts on the feedback collection process at the end of the survey.

Colleagues can either fill out the form themselves or nominate their CSE champion to collate feedback in their section and fill out the form on their behalf.

Please note that the deadline for completing the consultation form is EOP Monday 12th December 2022.

Q&A Sessions

In addition, we will also be hosting two informal drop in Q&A sessions, where you can ask questions and have a discussion about the feedback dataset. You can sign up to attend these virtual sessions via Eventbrite. These sessions will be held on Wednesday 23rd November at 10am and Thursday 1st December at 2pm.

Your thoughts on this dataset will be extremely helpful, as they will help us to tweak and adapt the feedback dataset to best suit the needs of colleagues and customers across the service. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact Bethan Smith at bethan.smith@ucl.ac.uk.

New Black Studies Subject Guide

By L ( Elizabeth ) Lawes, on 17 October 2022

Library Services’ Subject Guides Group has just published a new interdisciplinary research guide for Black Studies that aims to draw attention to and aid the discovery of Black scholarship in the collections of UCL Libraries. The guide has been created in response to feedback from students and academics who have reported difficulties in isolating the work of Black authors, artists, filmmakers, and other creators in our collections.

The structured, subject based arrangement of the print materials in our libraries does not allow for the creation of physically grouped, interdisciplinary collections; the new Black Studies Subject Guide attempts to address this by drawing collections together virtually. Obviously, our collections are not limited to print materials and a key function of the guide is to integrate physical and electronic resources, listing core databases and reference works, primary and secondary sources. Key sub-sections of the print collections are highlighted, for those wishing to browse the shelves. The Audio-Visual section directs users to our growing range of film streaming databases, including curated playlists available via Kanopy and BoB National.

It would be impossible to list every relevant book, journal or film in our collections so, alongside the links to major resources, we provide advice on literature searching, for example using subject headings in Explore, and link to our excellent existing training materials at LibrarySkills@UCL.

The guide also features a range of starting points for further research. This includes highlighting the work of individuals via the Focus on a Thinker and Spotlight sections, with direct links to relevant Explore searches and, where appropriate, films in Kanopy and BoB National. The New Books section highlights recently acquired titles by Black authors and on topics of relevance to the Black diaspora. Hopefully, these features replicate a browsing experience and aid serendipitous discovery.

The creation of this interdisciplinary guide is closely aligned with the work of the Library Liberating the Collections (LLTC) Steering Group. We hope it might also serve as an aid for academics in diversifying their reading lists and Liberating the Curriculum.

To help us shape it further, we welcome feedback and suggestions for content from all LCCOS colleagues. Initial focus is on the Arts & Humanities and Social & Historical Sciences, but we welcome suggestions for content in all disciplines. Please do let us know what you think.

Best wishes,

The Black Studies Subject Guide sub-group


Online Payments Additional Training and Dashboard

By Bethan Smith, on 12 September 2022

Following on from the launch of our online payments portal, we would like to inform colleagues of the availability of additional, post go-live online payments training sessions, as well as highlight the new online payments dashboard. 

Additional Training Sessions 

For the benefit of colleagues who did not have the chance to attend a training session prior to go-live, over the next few weeks we will be hosting more online payment training sessions.  

These training sessions will recap the same content covered in the live training sessions prior to the launch of the online payments platform, as well as the online payments training document which is available here 

Please note that these additional sessions are designed for colleagues who could not attend any of the previous training slots, or colleagues who feel they need a refresher. 

You can sign up to a training session via the following Eventbrite links: 

Online Payments Dashboard 

We would also like to inform colleagues that a new dashboard has been made available in Alma to display information about fines and fees.

The Online Payments dashboard will allow staff to view fines and fees over a custom period of time and will allow you to filter the results by payment method and library. This dashboard can be used for your local reporting needs and is accessed in the usual manner by viewing ‘reports’ in the analytics section of the main Alma menu.  

Colleagues who are unable to see the dashboard but require access can request this by contacting Bethan Smith 

Customer Online Payments Now Live

By Bethan Smith, on 24 August 2022

We would like to inform colleagues that the ability for customers to pay fines and fees online has now been made live. Customers can now pay their outstanding fines and fees by navigating to the payment portal from their library accounts in Explore.

As a reminder, a training guide has been created to act as a refresher for colleagues involved in online payments. It contains a detailed breakdown of the online payment process, as well as the procedures associated with our new way of paying fines and fees.

We would also like to remind all colleagues that, from now on, all testing and training which involves online payments (including any training for new starters) should be completed on the Alma Sandbox rather than the live production version of Alma, in order to ensure that all future financial reporting is accurate.

If you have any questions about the online payment process, please contact Bethan Smith or Jonathan Fowles.

Change to Logging Into Alma

By Tom Beauchamp, on 15 August 2022

As part of ISD’s strategy to switch many of UCL’s services to Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory (AAD) identity management tool, how you sign into Alma is changing. If you use the short URL we have provided, e.g. via a bookmark, it will change automatically tomorrow morning (Tuesday 16 August 2022). Instead of entering your username and password into the current Shibboleth login screen, you will instead see one similar to when you log into your UCL email account, Explore, and other UCL IT services. If you have recently logged into another service using Azure, you may be logged automatically into Alma.

If you have not bookmarked the short URL, you will need to take action between now and Monday 3 October 2022. Please see the Alma page on LibNet for details.

If you have any questions regarding this change or encounter any problems, please use the Digital Services online form.