X Close

LibNet staff news



The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris13 December 2020

2020: a year of challenges

2020 has been a year of challenge, but also of achievement. Over the last 9 months, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we live. It has led to very rapid changes in the way the Library offers services to our 45,000+ users. All colleagues in the Library have given more than 100% to ensure the safety of our staff and users, and to offer cutting-edge services in these most difficult of times.

Light is on the horizon in 2021, as vaccines start to become available. However, it is too early to relax our guard as we risk losing all the gains we have made. In UCL, we are planning what Terms 2 and 3 will look like. To be realistic, we believe that it will not finally be possible to return to anything like the old ‘normal’ before the new academic year 2021/22. But change is happening quickly and the timescale is far from certain.

At Library Committee this term, I presented my Pro-Vice-Provost’s Report to committee members. I described the challenges we all face, the incredible resilience shown by library colleagues and your fantastic offering over the year. In the Library, the SMT is now beginning to plan what the new ‘normal’ will look like. We want to learn from the last 9 months and retain the things that worked, to supplement the rich provision we know we have offered in the past. It is not a threat, it is an opportunity.

All that remains is for me to wish every member of staff Happy Holidays. Make the most of your downtime and enjoy it with your family and friends. 2021 will be a different year and I look forward to that.


Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services & UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship)

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris17 April 2020

Taking UCL forward

In TheWeek@UCL, UCL has described the crisis management structure it has put in place to plan for the coming months as we tackle the fallout caused by the coronavirus. UCL’s new decision-making structure is given here. It has adopted a 3-tier command structure of Gold-Silver-Bronze levels. Decisions are taken by the Provost and his senior managers at the Gold Level. At the Silver level, there are 2 workstreams which are looking at high-level issues concerning how UCL can function in the short-term (Aquamarine groups, which are looking at the period until September 2020) and Sapphire groups (which are looking at the situation from September onwards). These are supported by a number of Bronze Working Groups, which are currently in the process of being established.

How does the Library feed into this structure? Well, the Library has representation on a number of these committees and Working Groups. As of 20 April, this representation is as follows:

Paul Ayris

  • Aquamarine Silver 4 – Research. Chaired by Professor Alan Thompson (Dean of Brain Sciences)
  • Sapphire Silver 3E – Estates, Infrastructure and Place. Chaired by Paola Lettieri and Kevin Argent
  • Sapphire Silver 2 – Education. Chaired by Professor Piet Eechout (Dean of Laws)
  • Sapphire Bronze 3 – Education Infrastructure. Chaired by Professor Ivan Parkin (Dean of MAPS)
  • The Gold Integration Centre (GIC): Blue Team. The ‘Blue Team’, led by Fiona Ryland and Tom Rowson, has been created to ensure that developing plans are tested against a broad range of professional skills and experience. The ‘Red Team’ has been setup to provide additional tension and challenge, always considering other options and approaches.
    • The ‘Blue Team’ will not normally meet formally and/or regularly; instead it will be up to the chairs to engage when a particular piece of work would benefit from review or a professional view point

June Hedges

  • Aquamarine Silver 2 – Remote Teaching Term 3. Chaired by Professor Nora Colton (UCL Arena Centre) – Now stood down
  • Sapphire Bronze 2 – Education delivery. Chaired  by Norbert Pachler, Pro-Vice-Provost
  • Sapphire Bronze 1 – Education. Workstream: Teaching Resources. Chairs: Jo Stroud and Sam Smidt

Peter Dennison

  • Sapphire Bronze – Business Continuity Planning – Students

It is the work of these groupings at Silver and Bronze level which is fed up to UCL’s senior managers at Gold level and so helps shape UCL’s decisions for the future.

In shaping the Library’s contribution to the Gold-Silver-Bronze command structure, I have set up a series of committees to feed into this decision making process. I described these in detail in my previous blog post here, 

Essentially, the Library’s new committee structure for the duration of the crisis will consist of 3 layers. The Decisions level will consist of myself as Pro-Vice-Provost and Professor David Price as Vice-Provost (Research) & Chair of Library Committee. There are 3 committee groupings working to identify Recommendations to guide the Library through the current crisis. These are chaired by Ben Meunier and by Martin Moyle. Ben chairs the grouping looking at current covid-19 issues and Martin oversees arrangements for service delivery during the lockdown. I have also asked Martin to chair a series of ad-hoc deliberative groups to tackle specific questions which arise from the pan-UCL Gold-Silver-Bronze discussions. The Library’s 3 committee groupings can be supported by individual Working Groups, as required, to undertake detailed work.

In the coming weeks, both I and members of the Library’s committee and Working Group structure outlined above will be reaching out to members of staff whenever we need your advice and would benefit from the detailed knowledge which you have for the services you are responsible for/work in.

The present coronavirus crisis presents the whole of UCL with enormous challenges in the coming weeks. Of course, we will come through this and we will do that together, supporting each other, caring for each other’s well being and having the success of UCL as a world-leading university in our minds.

Stay well and safe and try to gain some rest over the weekend. I will write again as things develop to keep colleagues informed of how UCL plans to see us emerge safe and well from this crisis.

Paul Ayris


The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris7 April 2020

Strategic developments

In these extraordinary times, UCL is developing new structures to continue its ability to offer services and to plan for the future. This is known as the Gold-Silver-Bronze command structure. The Gold team is chaired by the Provost and meets regularly to sign off decisions affecting the current running of UCL and our planning for the future. The Silver layer is divided into 2 main components – Aquamarine and Sapphire. Aquamarine Groups are tasked to plan for now until the start of the new academic year in September. Sapphire groups have as their remit longer-term planning for the period from September 2020 onwards. Each Silver group is supported by Bronze Working Groups who look at the details for each UCL service and help to shape the immediate and long-term future. The Library is represented on all appropriate groups looking at Education, Research and Skills development & Training. In many cases, this new committee structure will temporarily replace existing UCL committees for the duration of the crisis.

Here in UCL Library Services, I have been working with colleagues to develop a temporary committee structure of our own whilst we are in lockdown, which will support the new UCL structures.

The structure can be viewed by clicking the link here as New Committee Structures

Strategic and Operational responses to the coronavirus crisis will be taken by 1 of 3 committees, supported by Working Groups as necessary. 2 of the Strategic and Operational Groups/activities already exist – the Covid-19 Group and the work undertaken to transition the Library to lockdown in March. These are chaired/led by Ben Meunier and Martin Moyle respectively. I am also establishing a 3rd grouping, tasked with looking at New Service models to enable UCL to return onsite in London.

This new committee structure for the Library will make recommendations to me as Pro-Vice-Provost, and I will sign off all major decisions supported by the Vice-Provost (Research), who will henceforth chair Library Committee. Existing committees can be asked to feed into the new structure but some, such as the Library’s Senior Management Team, will be paused. These new structures will come into being on Wednesday 8 April and last until the Library is re-established on site in London.

In terms of the New Service Models grouping, I have agreed that it should be asked to prepare a number of briefing papers in the coming weeks. These are on the following topics:

  1. Electronic-led resource provision to support research and education
  2. Digitally-delivered teaching and skills support
  3. Fully digital enquiry services, which require a proper enquiry management platform
  4. Open Science as the model for research, education, evaluation, reward and engagement
  5. Optimization of learning space
  6. Research collection strategy in a digital era

These papers will help shape future developments in the Library and across UCL when we begin to emerge from the current lockdown.

It only remains for me to wish every colleague in UCL Library Services a happy and restful holiday in what is an extraordinary time. UCL is immensely grateful to you all for your commitment, patience and support in this most difficult of times. Please try to enjoy the forthcoming April break. I will share more news about developments after the Easter recess.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

Paul Ayris14 March 2020

Coronavirus and UCL’s reponse

We are working in an environment of unprecedented challenge in the coming weeks as instances of covid-19 infections increase in number in the UK. UCL is taking its duty of care for its staff and students very seriously indeed, and the university is winning praise for its efforts in social media as a result. 

As you will have read, the Library has established a Working Group to oversee covid-19 preparations and actions, which is chaired by Ben Meunier. Ben and the team will ensure that all actions taken in the Library are aligned with UCL’s policy and practice as we tackle the enormity of the challenges which face us all in the coming weeks. Updates will be sent to all Library staff on a regular basis, as the situation is fast-changing. I have to be honest and say that things will get worse before they get better. UCL is preparing both for the short term and the long term in tackling this pandemic. For example, all UCL staff on clinical contracts have been released from academic duties so that they can devote their whole time to supporting the NHS and patients who are diagnosed with the coronavirus.

To support the efforts of the SMT Working Group, I have asked Ben to spend as much time as is necessary on tackling covid-19 issues for us, with as a principal concern the well-being of our staff. To enable this to happen, I have (with immediate effect) transferred line management responsibilities for the Library HR Team from Ben as Director of Operations to Martin Moyle as Director of Services. This arrangement will be reviewed later in the academic year, once the current emergency is past.

It only remains for me to tell everyone to read the bulletins on coronavirus being issued by UCL and from the Library and, above all, to stay safe and healthy.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)