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LCCOS staff news


News for colleagues within the LCCOS department.


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)

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

By Paul Ayris, on 14 August 2018

Library Strategy 2015-18: how did we do?

The Library Strategy 2015-18 formally ends in August 2018. In it, we set ourselves 94 goals to be delivered by the end of the Strategy period. How did we perform against our objectives? Our aim was to complete 90% of the Actions during the Strategy period. Here is an analysis of what we actually achieved.

There were 6 Key Performance Areas (KPA):

  1. User experience
  2. Staff, equality and diversity
  3. Finance, management information & value for money
  4. Systems and processes
  5. Sustainable estate
  6. Communication, Open Access & outreach

The results were as follows:

KPA Done Green Amber Red Total
1 16 3 0 0 19
2 17 2 1 0 20
3 14 1 0 0 15
4 12 4 1 0 17
5 8 0 1 1 10
6 12 0 1 0 13
Total 79 10 4 1 94

Done = Action performed

Green = Action not completed in Strategy period, but fully expected to be completed in the coming months

Amber = Difficulties meant that the desired Action could not be fully completed

Red = Difficulties meant that Action was impossible to complete

Taking the Done and Green Actions together, this means that 95% of the Action lines in the Implementation Plans for the 6 KPAs have been delivered.

There are many, many fine achievements to record. Speaking personally, let me highlight just one which has been particularly successful.

Sustainable Estate Action 5:


We will continue to seek opportunities to develop new learning spaces. Library will benchmark provision against international competition.


£1.4M additional funding agreed for learning space projects in summer 2018. In total, an additional 534 study spaces were opened during 2016-17 across UCL Library Services, mostly completed in summer 2017. Ratio of students:seat will be better than the Russell Group average after the New Student Centre opens in early 2019.

The Library, Houghton Hall, Norfolk

This is a tremendous outcome. The 2018 NSS results for UCL were recently published. Q19 is: The library resources (e.g. books, online services and learning spaces) have supported my learning well. The level of satisfaction expressed by UCL students was 85%, up 2% on last year’s score. One of the reasons for this is undoubtedly the increase in learning space provision which the Library can offer. And we hope that this improvement will continue into 2019, when the New Student Centre opens in February with 1,000 new digitally-enabled learning spaces.

There are many narratives like this that can be constructed to illustrate the tremendous work that all members of Library staff have done to deliver the 2015-18 Strategy.  I have enjoyed attending departmental and team meetings, along with colleagues, to discuss strategic directions. The feedback and suggestions we have received are excellent and we will take note of them as the new Strategy is developed in detail. I thank you for your contribution and look forward to working with you all in the new Strategy period, once the new Library Strategy is signed off by Library Committee in the autumn term.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Pro-Vice-Provost’s View: NSS 2017

By Paul Ayris, on 11 August 2017

NSS 2017

August has seen the publication of the NSS (National Student Survey) results for 2017.

Belton House, Lincolnshire

Belton House, Lincolnshire

The NSS results are to be read with some caution. A dozen Higher Education institutions are missing from the public analysis of the results because fewer than 50% of the eligible students responded. They include Oxford, Cambridge, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, UCL and King’s College London.

NSS results are important because they are widely seen as a measure of student satisfaction with the University experience, for which of course students are paying from their own pockets. There is also a link between NSS scores and the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework), which is why many students have been encouraged to boycott the 2017 NSS.

Because UCL achieved a response rate of less than 50%, I cannot discuss the results outside UCL due to NSS rules. Nevertheless, they can be discussed internally amongst UCL staff and students. I have written a high level analysis for members of UCL, which can be seen here. Please do take a minute to read my Report. The findings are of importance to UCL Library Services and for our immediate strategic development. Alongside academic Departments and other professional service activities, the Library achieved some of the best scores across UCL. Nevertheless, there are challenges and my Report identifies the ways in which the Library will tackle them in 2017/18.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)


The Director’s View: NSS results 2016

By Paul Ayris, on 9 August 2016

NSS results 2016

On 10 August, the 2016 NSS (National Student Survey) scores were published. The NSS is possibly the most important survey that assesses UK Higher Education; it will form a key component of the new TEF (Teaching Equality Framework).

Lincoln Cathedral - Bishop's Eye

Lincoln Cathedral – Bishop’s Eye

All Universities eye these results with care because so much of their reputation depends on a good outcome. NSS surveys are taken by third year undergraduates in UK Higher Education institutions. How did UCL fare in the 2016 survey? UCL’s response rate overall was 79%, which was up on the previous year. Overall, UCL scored an 85% satisfaction rate, which was 1% up on the previous year.

Q16 is the Library question, where respondents are asked about the usefulness of the Library and its services: The Library resources and services are good enough for my needs. UCL Library Services scored an 88% satisfaction rating in the 2016 NSS (the same as in 2015) against a sector average of 87%. This compares with a score of 85% for the equivalent question in the recent PTES (Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey). Detailed breakdown of the scores at Departmental level will be received soon, as will the detailed comments from students where they have recorded their experience of using UCL Library Services.

What were the three highest scoring questions for the whole of UCL in the 2016 NSS survey? Here they are:

  • Staff are good at explaining things – 89%
  • The course is intellectually stimulating – 88%
  • The Library resources and services are good enough for my needs – 88%

So the Library question (q16 in the NSS) scored the second highest mark at the top level of all 23 questions in the NSS. What scored the lowest? It was a group of 5 questions around assessment and feedback, which together scored only a 64% satisfaction rating.

LASS - UCL Language and Speech Science Library

LASS – UCL Language and Speech Science Library

The Library has once again done incredibly well in achieving such a fantastic score in what is a survey of national significance. Everyone who is a member of staff in the Library has contributed to this significant success and this is something that should be celebrated by the whole of UCL. Of course, we hope for even better scores next time – with a target of a mark of at least 90%.

Thank you for all your efforts to make the Library such a remarkable place in which our students, researchers and users can work.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services

The Director’s View

By Paul Ayris, on 12 August 2015

NSS Results 2015

The National Student Survey (NSS 2015) results have been published today. They are probably the single most important measure of Student satisfaction that UK universities now study.

NSS 2015

There are 23 questions which make up the top level of enquiry which the survey poses. The questions are divided (as the clickable graphic shows) into 8 categories. The important section for the Library is LR – Learning Resources. The Library question is Question 16 – The library resources and services are good enough for my needs? In 2015, 88% of those responding from UCL (3rd year undergraduates) said that the Library’s services and facilities met their needs, the same score as in 2014. This is a fantastic result, when student numbers increase year on year. It is a tribute to the devoted work that all colleagues put in to support the Library and our users. Overall, the Library’s score of 88% was the highest individual score in all the 23 top level questions which form the NSS. Of course, we want to do better next year and move into the 90s…

Overall, the NSS results for UCL show that there is no room for complacency. UCL’s Overall Satisfaction score was 83%, 3% down on 2014. The sector average (i.e. all universities) was 86%, the same as 2014. UCL’s overall score puts it in =111th place in the national league table of 2015 NSS scores, published today in the Times Higher here. So there is room for considerable improvement, and UCL will be looking for major developments in the next 12 months.

For a warm commendation of the Library’s work from Professor Anthony Smith (Vice-Provost, Education and Student Affairs), which highlights the importance of the cutting edge digital learning spaces in the Cruciform Hub which we have introduced, look here.

Congratulations to everyone who has contributed to the Library’s score in the 2015 NSS results, in challenging times.

Paul Ayris

Director of Library Services