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LCCOS staff news


News for colleagues within the LCCOS department.


CPD25 course: Supporting staff and students with autism and learning difficulties, 07.12.22

By Sharon A James, on 24 January 2023

Back in December 2022 Sharon James and Sarah Turk attended this online course. Below are their write-ups of the presentations.

First presentation, delivered by Clare Caccavone

The first presentation, “Progressing neurodiversity and making adjustments” was delivered by Clare Caccavone, Programme Director at Ambitious about Autism. This charity provides support, specialist education and employability services for autistic children and young people. Clare informed us that 56% of autistic children have been unofficially excluded from school, 4 out of 5 autistic young people experience mental health issues, and only 29% of autistic people are in employment.

Features of autism include difficulties with social communication, social interaction, routines, and sensory overload. To bring this to life we were shown a helpful short video in which young people with autism talked about stimming, a coping mechanism that helps with anxiety. It involves repetitive actions such as rocking, hand flapping, feet tapping, sniffing a scent or squeezing a hand toy. The video is from the Ambitious about Autism YouTube channel. We also watched this Sensory Overload video that allows the watcher to experience what it is like to be overwhelmed by everyday noise and confusion.

Ambitious about Autism are proud of a pilot they ran, the Higher Education Network, where they worked with 17 universities, trained over 100 employers, and enabled more than 170 autistic students to benefit from paid work. Aiming to create a more neurodiverse workforce, they are also working with five universities this year.

Finally, we were given some tips for when working with neurodiverse students and colleagues. These include:

  • In your workplace, notice what could present a challenge for others.
  • Provide advance warning of any changes, cancellations or closures.
  • Allow the use of self-calming strategies that are not harmful.
  • Use someone’s name before talking so that you have their attention.
  • Don’t assume what you have said is obvious; reiterate what will happen and why.
  • Allow more time for information to be processed.
  • Give staff and students any questions you have before meeting up with them.

I found this presentation very helpful, especially the practical tips. The videos were also informative and allowed me to better understand the experiences involved in being neurodiverse.  As a frontline worker I feel that this training will help me when communicating with all library users and colleagues.

Related link

Ambitious about Autism website.

by Sharon James

Second presentation, delivered by Daniela de Silva and Eleri Kyffin

The second presentation, “Inclusive recruitment practices at the University of Westminster, Library and Archive Service”, was delivered by Daniela de Silva and Eleri Kyffin from the University of Westminster Library. We learned about how they have transformed the recruitment process to make it more inclusive and support neurodiverse applicants.

When invited to interview, all candidates now receive a Recruitment Welcome Pack which includes the names and pictures of the interview panel, information about the team and post, interview tips and guidance along with the interview questions (or the topics for questions for senior roles). It was interesting to learn that feedback gathered from both the interview candidates and the interview panel members was on the whole very positive. Whilst some candidates found that having the questions in advance made them more nervous, the majority felt it was very helpful. The interview panel found that even with the questions in advance they could see the candidates’ strengths and weaknesses, and follow up questions could be used to probe a bit deeper.

As a recruiter who sometimes feels that the interview process may not allow a candidate to do themselves justice, it was very thought provoking to hear the positive experiences of both the panel members and candidates at the University of Westminster. What I found particularly inspiring was that whilst this began as a way of making their recruitment more inclusive for autistic candidates, it actually could have the potential to make the process more inclusive for all. Definitely food for thought!

by Sarah Turk

Nominate your colleagues for UCL Professional Services December Awards

By Benjamin Meunier, on 8 October 2019

There is always a lot of great work happening in Library Services. We want to celebrate this and ensure that teams receive well-deserved recognition for achievements. Can your team emulate colleagues who were shortlisted this summer, when Gillian Mackenzie, Vicky Robertson, Noreen Beecher and Breege Whiten were shortlisted for leading a series of very successful Customer Service Excellence workshops?

UCL want to hear about the people who demonstrate integrity, outstanding service and commitment to UCL, about the teams who are striving towards UCL’s future and about the incredible things people are doing beyond the boundaries of our institutes and departments. Nominations for the UCL Professional Services December Awards are open until 5pm Monday 4 November.

There are 7 categories for nominations, based on the UCL Ways of Working:

  • Leadership Award for Outstanding Contribution
  • Way of Working – Personal Excellence Award
  • Way of Working – Working Together Award
  • Way of Working – Outstanding Individual Contribution to Achieving our Mission
  • Way of Working – Outstanding Team Contribution to Achieving our Mission
  • Community Spirit Award
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Staff Experience

Further details of the award categories, the judging criteria and a link to the nomination form can be found at www.ucl.ac.uk/professional-services/prof-services-awards.

You can also use the link above to register for the Awards ceremony on Tuesday 10th December in Elvin Hall, IOE, 20 Bedford Way.

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

By Paul Ayris, on 29 July 2019

Library Strategy update

2019 saw the adoption of a new Library Strategy by UCL Library Services. How is the Library faring in delivering on the 6 Key Performance Areas the Strategy contains? As Pro-Vice-Provost, I have compiled an analysis which I share with the many visitors who visit UCL Library Services, as well as with UCL committees such as UCL Library Committee. On Thursday 25 July, I had the honour to share the strategy with Mohammed Jassim, who was until recently Director of Mosul University Libraries in Iraq. His library system was desecrated by ISIS and his colleagues are facing building a new library structure and organisation from scratch. It was very humbling to hear about the current state of library services in Mosul.

Of the 6 Key Performance Areas (KPAs) in the Library Strategy, the most successful to date is undoubtedly the one on Sustainable Estate, where the opening of the Student Centre has already revolutionized the way students study in UCL. With 1104 learning spaces, managed by the Library, it is a major addition to the suite of library and learning spaces which UCL can offer. Under the User Experience KPA, the Library has also seen an increase in its 2019 NSS (National Student Survey) score to 86%, up 1% on the previous year. This is another step towards the target of 90% satisfaction that the Library aims to achieve amongst all third-year undergraduates surveyed.

Main Library stairs

The Library is also the first Division/Department in UCL to achieve Customer Service Excellence accreditation, passing in all 57 criteria at the first attempt – a very notable achievement and a fantastic confirmation of our wish to put the User at the centre of the library experience. The CSE Accreditation Report made particular mention of the contribution made by Library staff: “The staff appeared ‘passionate’ in meeting and exceeding customer expectations and clearly understand what was meant by customer service excellence. All staff appeared keen to deliver an excellent service to ensure Library Services was both ‘leading the way’ and exemplar for other library services. The assessor was also very impressed by the overall staff commitment such as their attention to detail, the desire to continually improve things and the professionalism displayed by them.” This statement is a great confirmation of the Library’s commitment to developing the skills of its staff in KPA2 – Staff, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

Every member of Library staff, through their professionalism and commitment, plays a really important role in delivering the Library Strategy and in making UCL one of the best universities anywhere in the world in which to study and do research.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Library Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Champions shortlisted for Professional Services Awards 2019

By Benjamin Meunier, on 25 June 2019

The UCL Professional Services Conference took place yesterday (24 June) to celebrate the contribution staff make to UCL, showcasing the work we do,  working across multiple departments and carrying out various roles. As part of the Office of the Vice-Provost (Research), Library Services makes a strong contribution to the work of professional services across UCL. Library Services was invited to participate in the conference and a number of colleagues attended the event.

A highlight of the conference was the ceremony for the UCL Ways of Working Awards. Over 200 nominations were submitted from across UCL central professional services, Vice-Provost Offices and Faculties. Library Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Champions were shortlisted for an award: ‘Ways of Working – Team Contribution to Achieving our Mission’. In this category, staff nominated colleagues who “are striving towards UCL’s future, demonstrating vision, a sense of ownership and innovation in their work”. The nomination was shortlisted in recognition of the team’s work on Customer Services Excellence workshops, as detailed below. In a very competitive field, the award ultimately went to Student Support and Wellbeing.  Although there were 5 Library Services entries submitted, this was the only shortlisted nomination. Congratulations to the Library CSE Champions: Noreen Beecher, Breege Whiten, Gillian Mackenzie, Vicky Robertson!

CSE Champions: Noreen Beecher, Breege Whiten, Gillian Mackenzie, Vicky Robertson

This team demonstrated excellent collaboration, communication and shared learning in the way that they work together.

In line with the Library Services Strategy 2019-22 and CSE accreditation bid, the Champions initiated, researched, devised, and carried out customer service excellence workshops for fifteen teams, seventy staff, and resulting in sixty-two hours of training. This work was voluntary and included running workshops in evenings and Saturdays to make training inclusive.

About the Customer Service Excellence workshops

Breege, Noreen, Vicky and Gillian volunteered to become Customer Service Excellence (CSE) Champions to change the culture of Library Services, and to help work towards the CSE accreditation as outlined in the Library Services strategy. They created a series of workshops for frontline teams, working collaboratively to research and devise workshops which were initially rolled out to a number of day time teams. After these proved successful they evaluated and re-wrote the workshop to deliver to Evening/Weekend (E/W) frontline teams.

The team moved away from traditional training to engage staff, and so chose to devise practical, discussion based workshops, which included a team presentation on customer service. The workshops included discussions of CSE experiences, and feedback for the Library handbook and Service Charter.

This process has resulted in fifteen teams, seventy staff, and sixty hours of training. The workshops have been inclusive for E/W teams, making training available within their shift patterns. The feedback and enthusiasm has been excellent, and we have started to see a culture change in how we carry out CSE within Library Services. The CSE Champions have also collated a significant amount of feedback, data and evidence for Library Services to use in the CSE accreditation process.

Creating a supportive Customer Service environment 

The work is linked to the Library strategy of achieving CSE accreditation. The CSE Champions have been committed to engaging staff with CSE, across multiple teams, sites and working patterns. The workshops have created a culture change within Library services, and also included transferable skills for staff, from presenting to collaborative project work. Teams have found the presentations enjoyable, as they have been encouraged to use their creativity.

The workshops have brought together the E/W team who wouldn’t usually get the opportunity to work together, enabling them to work collaboratively and build relationships. It has also inspired other Library Staff to provide training for teams which don’t usually work in day time roles. The team have been supportive to other CSE Champions and colleagues, helping others to facilitate, so that those less confident can take part. This training has not only benefitted Library Services, by providing trained staff and evidence for the CSE accreditation, it has also benefitted library users.

Achieving our mission

As voluntary CSE Champions, Vicky, Gillian, Breege and Noreen are clear about why this work is important. The Library Strategy focuses on “ensuring an excellent customer experience”, and the department as a whole has set the goal of achieving CSE accreditation. On an individual level CSE is imperative for the library user. Our CSE affects how our customers use the library, and also the feedback we get through student surveys. This project was immensely ambitious as the work was carried out on top of usual roles, and outside of the team’s own working hours. It involved communication and liaison, to help staff engage with the process. Logistically it was ambitious as it took work organising cover so staff could attend sessions. Throughout the process the four CSE Champions have remained united in their own vision of what they wanted to achieve, and continue to work on CSE with other managers. The team also understand that gaining the accreditation means that they will need to carry on updating their training, to keep staff skills current, to train new staff, and to help with re-validation.

The innovative practice of devising workshops in CSE has enabled us to review our practices for frontline teams. The CSE Champions recognised that there was a need to re-evaluate and open up the discussion, and by rolling out this training they have started teams and individuals on this process of self-reflection, in relation to service provision. Our long term aim is to help achieve CSE accreditation, and to make sure that customer service is consistently excellent. These workshops have ‘kick-started’ this process through staff engagement, discussion and feedback. The workshops have also created evidence which Library Services can use for the accreditation process. While the goal is to achieve accreditation, the long term success will be measured by student feedback.

As Champions, the team took responsibility for delivering CSE engagement and culture change, within the accreditation time frame. They have worked towards this by having a clear remit and framework for the workshops. Communication between the four Champions has been essential, and running workshops in the evenings and weekends has helped to make team members feel included.

The effectiveness has been achieved through dedication, integrity, commitment, support, and by going above and beyond, to ensure all have equal access and a voice in how we shape our customer service.

Peter Dennison, Head of Customer Service, said:

“Well done to Gillian, Vicky, Breege and Noreen! This work illustrates our Library Services values and will make a difference in the Library’s work towards formally securing CSE accreditation.”

Find out more about the UCL Ways of Working: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/human-resources/policies-advice/ways-working.

Customer Service Group UK (CSGUK)

By Breege Whiten, on 31 October 2016

CSGUK formed in April 2012, although it was originally called the ‘M25 Customer Services Group’ because it was affiliated with the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries (a group representing member Libraries across the South East). In the summer of 2014 the group was renamed CSGUK and it became independent and national.

CSGUK is not a formal membership organisation but a group supporting professional development, collaboration and knowledge sharing amongst all levels of colleagues providing customer services within Libraries. However, it does have a formal structure for delivering its resources, news and events. There is a steering group and four task groups: Communication, Benchmarking, Events, and Resources. I am a representative on the Communication task group, and Rachel Nelligan is a representative on the Benchmarking task group. Our roles involve meeting up with our groups at least once per term, and working on CSGUK tasks.

UCL recently hosted the Communications task group meeting, where six colleagues from across the UK met up for the day, to overhaul the CSGUK communications. This included devising a communications strategy, focusing on communication channels (including social media and the web page), communicating with all levels of customer service staff working in UK libraries, and communication for the upcoming conference.
Every year the CSGUK organises a Customer Service conference, and this year the theme is ‘Equipping Customer Services staff to provide accessible and inclusive services’. It takes place on Monday 28th November, Woburn House, and is open to all levels of library staff (see below for details).

As UCL Library Services is currently working towards the Customer Service Excellence accreditation, I would encourage Library staff to engage with the CSGUK website for ideas sharing, best practice, bench marking and practical tools, or apply to attend the conference!

CSGUK conference in November 2016:

Customer Service Excellence accreditation website:

Focus on Customer Service Excellence

By Peter Dennison, on 9 June 2016

In my new role as Head of Customer Service I am responsible for the strategic development and delivery of excellent customer service across UCL Library Services. I lead the Customer Service Teams for the Main and Science Libraries and Evening & Weekend Services and I also work closely with the Head of Site Library Services, the Head of Liaison and Support Services plus the Librarians at IOE and SSEES. My remit also includes Welcome Services, Enquiry Services, ILDS and Store Delivery and Service Operations.

The User Experience KPA of the Library Strategy has a section entitled ‘Partnership with students and other users’. Its goal is to: Deliver public services with consistent excellence and, increasingly, at the point and time of need; raise the satisfaction of BME users with the Library, so that it equals or exceeds overall user satisfaction.

Obtaining the Customer Service Excellence Standard is an objective of the current Library Strategy.

Customer Service Excellence (CSE) is designed to operate on three distinct levels: Picture1
1. As a driver of continuous improvement.
2. As a skills development tool.
3. As an independent validation of achievement.
CSE Standard: Cabinet Office, 2010

We have been fortunate to have a Graduate Trainee (Fiona Whelan) work with us from January to May this year. Fiona’s work culminated in a comprehensive report covering Customer Service Excellence and User Experience in UCL Library Services.

The report details the Customer Service Audit which Fiona carried out at all of our 18 Libraries and during her travels Fiona was able to inform staff about the CSE Standard and ensured that they were involved with this project from the start. She was also able to audit the Library Service against the CSE criteria in order to identify any gaps or problem areas.

A further piece of work which Fiona took forward was the development of a draft Service Charter. This has been shared with Library colleagues across all Library Services sites and feedback has been welcomed and incorporated into subsequent drafts. Focus Groups were run with students to establish perceptions of customer service within UCL Library Services and to obtain feedback on the draft Service Charter. You can find the draft Charter on LibNet and we are still happy to receive feedback on the Service Charter until 1 July after which it will be taken to the next meeting of Library Committee for ratification.

Finally, a small but innovative User Experience (UX) Project has been run utilising ‘speaking boards’ as an alternative method to obtain user feedback. Boards were placed in the Main and Science Libraries and Cruciform Hub asking users what they thought of 24/7 opening in the library. A3 posters were also used at LaSS, IOE, Bartlett and Royal Free for the same purpose. This project had an immediate impact and elicited much feedback – not all related to 24/7 opening! Lessons have been learned from this Project such as the importance of linking the physical boards with social media (eg Twitter polls) and of responding to user feedback via ‘You said….We say’ notice boards.

Fiona’s work has been invaluable in kick-starting our focus on CSE. We are now initiating the project and will seek accreditation in 18 months’ time. In order to maintain momentum the Service Development Group, chaired by Ben Meunier as Assistant Director (Public Services), will become the CSE Steering Group from August with a revamped membership. It is currently proposed that five Task and Finish Groups will be established covering:

• Standards and Policies
• Service Improvement
• Staff
• Performance
• Communication

I would like to thank Fiona Whelan for her inspiring report and also Breege Whiten for supporting Fiona and for her ongoing commitment to Customer Service Excellence.

This is an exciting initiative for the whole of UCL Library Services to be involved in, and it will require input from all parts of the service. I look forward to working with you and to channel the enthusiasm which we have seen from all parts of Library Services around Customer Service Excellence. I will be in touch in the near future with regular updates on our progress.

Library Services teams win excellent service award

By Benjamin Meunier, on 4 February 2016

UCL Library Services staff were centre-stage this week at the UCL Professional Services conference. And rightly so.

On Tuesday 2nd February 2016, UCL President and Provost, Professor Michael Arthur, presented the 2016 UCL Professional Services Values Awards. Rex Knight, as Vice-Provost (Operations) read out the nominations for each award. The categories mirror Professional Services’ values:

  • Mutual respect
  • Excellent service
  • Collaboration
  • Empowered
  • Innovation

One value which resonates particularly strongly with the mission of Library Services is:

Excellent serviceputting UCL’s goals and customer needs first by working in partnership

This award category was highly competitive with around 20 entries from across UCL contending. I was delighted that the winners were the Main and Science daytime and Evening/Saturday teams, led by Breege Whiten. A number of award-winning colleagues received the award in person from the Provost.


2016 PS Excellent Service Award Winners

The 2016 Professional Services “Excellent Service” Award winners, with UCL President and Provost Professor Michael Arthur (far left)


It was my privilege to highlight some of the team’s achievements in this area. Since the introduction of self-service in the UCL Main and Science Libraries, the front-line teams have transformed their services to deliver a wider range of support, placing customer satisfaction at the heart of what they do. The quality of service has remained consistently excellent through a period of tremendous organisational change. This award is highly-deserved recognition for Breege and the entire team’s dedication to providing service with a smile.

We will be working through 2016 towards gaining Customer Service Excellence accreditation for UCL Library Services, as part of our work towards delivering the User Experience goals set in the Library Strategy and UCL 2034. It is immensely encouraging to start the year with such an accolade from the Provost. I would like to end with a quote from a student, which I read out in the citation for the award:

“The staff ‘have been incredibly friendly and gone far beyond their required services to help me. I don’t think my studies would be half as successful without their support and enthusiasm.’”

Well done to the winners of the 2016 UCL Professional Services “Excellent service” Award!