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LCCOS staff news


News for colleagues within the LCCOS department.


LibPMC Conference – July 2023

By Bethan Smith, on 30 August 2023

We recently attended the 15th LibPMC International Conference on Performance Measurement in Libraries, which took place from 11th to 13th July 2023. With a focus on data analysis and its applications to librarianship, as well as customer service excellence principles, the conference offered an excellent opportunity to examine and learn from the interesting work being undertaken by peer institutions at both a national and international level.

There were many interesting concepts discussed at the conference which were particular highlights, such as:

Data presentation – the introductory session of the conference introduced us to the useful term ‘clubhouse data’ – data which only makes sense to a limited number of players and results in a niche understanding with limited practical applications. This keynote provided a useful reminder to us all to avoid falling down our own data rabbit-holes, or producing data for its own sake, while reinforcing that clear presentation of data is as key as the data itself.

Technology – many sessions throughout the three days highlighted software that can be used to create data visualisations for data-driven decisions, such as Tableau and Power BI. As creating service dashboards has long been an ambition within Service Improvement, it was reassuring to hear institutions (such as Lancaster and Cambridge) reporting on both their successes with using this software, as well as sharing their familiar struggles with combining data from multiple sources in one sharable, accessible place.

Peer Reviewing – Two interesting peer review exercise exemplars were provided by the Open University and Sussex University. The OU provided a case study on how sharing chat enquiry responses in small working groups helped their enquiries team to facilitate peer feedback and share best practice. At Sussex, they obtained funding to invite Bloomsbury Publishing to take part in in a two-way process to evaluate their burgeoning open press, to help transition their outputs from running on ‘pilot energy’ to creating successful ongoing processes. Facilitating peer-reviews can be challenging, but the exercise can encourage a growth mindset and offer unique insights into ways of working.

EDI, Values and Data – many sessions examined the potential of using qualitative and quantitative data gathering techniques as a health-check for EDI principles. The classic adage of the disability movement, ‘nothing about us without us’, was a repeated throughout as a reminder to ensure that data-driven decision-making considers the authentic experience of our diverse user-base. There was also a refreshing examination of impostor syndrome in librarianship from Ramona Naicker, who provided us all with reassuring encouragement to make the most of our positions within the library to contribute to research in the field.

Customer Service Excellence – it was interesting to hear that other institutions in the UK that have obtained the CSE standard had encountered similar challenges to us, in particular bringing together feedback from different channels/sources; finding time to conduct regular service reviews while “fire-fighting” operational issues; and demonstrating to colleagues the benefits of collecting feedback by presenting evidence of service improvements.

UX work – a key theme of the conference was the importance of providing greater context to data. One presenter commented that historically there has been too much focus on quantitative data that demonstrates what we have, such as the number of study spaces or size of collections, and not enough focus on how our customer’s expectations compare to their perception of our services and facilities. As they put it, past data has been “a mile wide and an inch deep.” To improve the depth of our data we will need to engage our customers using UX methods. For example, when evaluating our learning spaces our occupancy data might indicate areas of high usage, but without engaging our customers we won’t know why they prefer these study areas, if they are aware of alternatives, and if they are why they choose not to use those study areas instead. UX work is an exciting area which we are hoping to use more and more in the coming years, and it was great to hear examples of how these methods can help to contextualise the data we already collect.

We found the conference to be a very interesting experience, and across the three days it was encouraging to hear about the successes and challenges from international peer institutions. We certainly felt that we learned a lot and hope to take inspiration from these highlights in our own work going forward.

By Bethan Smith & Jonathan Fowles

Annual convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES)

By Wojciech A Janik, on 13 December 2018

Last week I had an opportunity to attend the 2018 Annual Convention of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES) in Boston, Massachusetts. ASEEES is the leading international organization dedicated to the advancement of knowledge about Central Asia, the Caucasus, Russia, and Eastern Europe in regional and global contexts.

ASEEES convention.

It is one of the largest gathering of professionals (academics, librarians, publishers, etc.) working in the field of Eastern Europe and Eurasia in the world, so it was great opportunity to meet colleagues from a plethora of organisations, to exchange ideas, make new links, and discover new opportunities, and of course the right place to highlight our own work and achievements.

Round table The Global Encyclopedia of Informality: Towards Understanding of Social and Cultural Complexity at the 50th Annual ASEEES convention.

The convention lasted four days and was filled with panels and meetings. I was able to attend a number of panels, ranging from “Russian Imperial Cultural Heritage Abroad: 1917-1945”, chaired by Edward Kasinec from Columbia University, to “Copyright and Related Rights: A Look at the State of Play in Publishing, Music Licensing, and Broadcast Media” chaired by Janice T. Pilch, a library colleague from Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. I found the panels, and especially the discussions that followed, to be very useful and informative. I also attended a UCL SSEES and UCL Press related event: round table “The Global Encyclopedia of Informality: Towards Understanding of Social and Cultural Complexity”, which was chaired by Elena Denisova-Schmidt from the University of St. Gallen and attended by Predrag Cveticanin from the University of Nis, as well as Eric D. Gordy, Michal Murawski and Alena Ledeneva, all from UCL SSEES.

Finally I participated in the roundtable panel: “Leveraging E-resources to Foster Access for Libraries”. The panel was chaired by Angela Cannon from the Library of Congress and my roundtable partners were: Liladhar R. Pendse from the University of California, Berkeley, Zina Somova from East View Information Services and Gudrun Wirtz from the Bavarian State Library. Among other issues we discussed how scholars researching Eastern Europe are using new publishing technologies and initiatives to disseminate their output and to reach new audiences. I used this opportunity to highlight research output related to Slavonic and East European studies/themes that can be accessed via UCL Press or UCL Discovery. Finally, at the ASEEES Committee on Libraries and Information Resource Membership Meeting, I provided a summary report on behalf of the Council for Slavonic and East European Library and Information Services (COSEELIS) of which UCL SSEES Library is a part.

The Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library.

I also had an opportunity to visit the Widener Library, an important part of the Harvard College Libraries that is also home to Harvard’s Slavonic collections, where I met library colleagues working in the Slavonic section of the Widener Library.

The convention provided me with the opportunity to discuss some potential projects with colleagues. The project met with interest and offers of support from colleagues from Harvard Library, the Hoover Institute, the New York Public Library and the Bavarian State Library.

All in all I found my participation at the convention as very helpful and informative. Both the knowledge and professional contacts gained during the conference will be very useful in my work and future projects.


Boston. View from the Massachusetts Bridge.

Frankfurt Book Fair, October 2017

By Alison Fox, on 24 October 2017

Posted on behalf of Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager, UCL Press

The Frankfurt Book Fair is the oldest and largest book fair in the world. Founded in 1454, it has taken place regularly ever since, and it attracts more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries and over 278,000 visitors annuallydownload(2016 figures). It has five separate halls each with several floors. The Fair has a dual purpose: for most international publishers it is a trade fair where they come to do business every year: to sell international rights, and meet with suppliers and other collaborators and colleagues, and that is what the first three days of the Fair are devoted to. For many of the German publishers, it is very much a Fair to promote their new books to the public, and visitors come at the weekend to see the displays of books and attend author presentations.

Each year there is a country of honour, and this year it was France. The Fair was opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Emmanuel Macron, demonstrating the importance of the Fair to international trade and culture. Every day on the German news there are reports from the Fair’s activities, showing the central place it holds ifbfn the country’s calendar.

This year was the first year that UCL Press exhibited. We had a small stand in Hall 4.2 where we were surrounded by other UK and European university presses, and other science publishers and small scholarly publishers. I attended for the first three days then Jaimee Biggins, UCL Press’s Managing Editor, came to look after the stand for the weekend and attend a Convention of International University Presses (see here for more).

I had over 25 meetings during the three days I was there, and among those I met were other university presses and other institutions with whom we have collaborative projects already happening or in development, such as Chicago and Cornell University Presses; other university presses for sharing of knowledge and information, such as Sydney University Press and Wits University Press; publishing associations with whom we are collaborating such as the Association of American University Presses, the Association of European University Presses and ALPSP; our existing suppliers and distributors such as NBN, OAPEN, JSTOR and Science Open; and potential new suppliers and collaborators.

Among the most interesting of this last category was a company called Baobab who distribute both print and ebooks to African university libraries. As an open access publisher with a mission to disseminate scholarly research around the globe, I was particularly keen to hear whether Baobab might be able to help UCL Press distribute its open access books to African university libraries. It turned out that Baobab has an existing service that distributes free ebooks on behalf of NGOs and aid agencies that UCL Press can take part in. Although OA books are made freely available online, ensuring that they reach targeted communities is not always easy since OA supply chains for monographs are not fully developed. So this new partnership is very encouraging and exciting, and it meets one of the key drivers of UCL’s global strategic objective of ‘increasing independent research capability around the world’ by making high-quality scholarly research freely available.

All in all it was a very worthwhile event for raising UCL Press’s profile, strengthening our existing relationships, and forging new ones, and we are already planning Frankfurt 2018!

ICHRE Summer Conference, 21-22 June 2017

By Helen Biggs, on 14 June 2017

images from the IOE student union archive

What: A free, two-day conference, held by the International Centre for Historical Research in Education, in association with the Friends of Newsam Library

Where: Cruciform Building, UCL

When: Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd June

This year’s ICHRE conference will cover a variety of themes and topics, including the social histories of universities and the history of education in China and East Asia.

Three members of UCL Libraries’ Special Collections, Archives and Records team will be taking part in the conference:

  • Colin Penman, Head of Records, will be delivering the conference’s keynote speech on Redundant women: UCL’s place in the history of women’s higher education
  • Jessica Womack, IOE Archivist, will be speaking on Socialising the IOE: the Student’s Union, and beyond the lecture theatre
  • Kathryn Hannan, IOE Archivist, is taking part in a panel discussion on Teaching history of education through primary sources.

To find out more about this event, and to register for your free place at the conference, click here.

The 5th International Summit of the Book, Limerick 1-3 November 2017

By Alison Fox, on 7 November 2016

Posted on behalf of Lara Speicher, Publishing Manager, UCL Press

Last week I attended the 5th International Summit of the Book, held this year in Limerick. The Summit of the Book conference was initiated in 2012 by the Library of Congress, Washington, as an ‘annual global meeting to discuss and promote the book as a crucial format for conveying societies’ scholarship and culture’.

Speakers came from HEI and national libraries all over the world and included the Director of the Library of Alexandria, the Chief of Library Services at the UN office in Geneva, the Director of Scholarly and Educational Programs at the Library of Congress, the President of the African Library and Information Association, the Director of the National Library of Ireland, the President of LIBER, the Head of the European Library, and the Chair of IFLA’s Freedom of Access to Information Committee.

Along with many short presentations of case studies of practices and initiatives at libraries around the world, including the use of special collections for teaching, common reader programmes, the possibilities of digitization, and managing university libraries in different languages and cultures, the conference offered a global insight into the changes and challenges for libraries everywhere, some common to all and others particular to a country or circumstance.

I gave a presentation on the open access publishing model adopted by UCL Press, and the growing trend for libraries to set up their own open access publishing service. I described the global reach achieved by the Press’s books and journals since launching in June 2015 (getting on for 80,000 now) and the benefits that can accrue to an institution through making its research freely available to all. I hope that our experience might serve as an inspiration to other institutions of the transformative potential of having an open access press.

Staff Development in UCL Library Services

By Paul Ayris, on 12 August 2013

Library Services’ Open Forum

At the recent Staff Conference (2013), a question was raised in one of the plenary sessions about the timing of the Library’s Open Forum. This Forum is intended for end-users of the Library’s facilities and services, to give them the opportunity to comment on the Library’s offering. Members of library staff are more than welcome to attend the Forum, which (it is hoped) will be held in Second Term 2014. Arrangements for this meeting are already in train.

The Library’s Staff Development and Training Committee has, at my request, considered whether the Library should hold another Forum on the same model in the 1st Term. This would complement the Open Forum in 2nd Term and the Staff Conference in the 3rd Term. The feeling is that this Blog could usefully fulfil the role of a Forum in 1st Term instead, by providing a vehicle for colleagues to share notes of their attendance at Conferences, and to offer news of new developments in the Library where they work.

I look forward to reading such reports on this Blog, and I will let you know details of the Open Forum as soon as they are known.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services


UCL Library Services Staff Conference 2013

By Nova Larch, on 30 July 2013

The UCL Library Services Staff Conference 2013 was held on Friday 19 July.

Presentations from the keynote address and some of the morning and afternoon sessions, together with entries from the Photo Competition are now available at


We hope to be able to provide you with a summary of the feedback from the conference in the next few weeks.

If you are interested in joining the staff conference organising committee please get in touch with me by email (n.larch@ucl.ac.uk).

Many thanks


(on behalf of the Staff Conference Organising Committee)