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Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

PaulAyris19 February 2019

The Student Centre is live!

As colleagues will know, the UCL Student Centre opened its doors to our students yesterday. The news story behind the opening can be found here. The £67.4 million multi-purpose Student Centre, located in the centre of London, provides 1,000 new study spaces, over eight levels, for UCL’s 42,000-strong student community.

At lunch time today, I took the opportunity to walk round the architectural spaces which the Student Centre provides and to discover how UCL students are taking to the additional study spaces which UCL is providing. Centrally located, the Student Centre provides wonderful group and quiet study spaces for UCL students which are open 24 x 7. The new study environment does not replace existing library provision, because from the start I decided that the Student Centre would contain no paper copy. It is easily within walking distance of the UCL Main and Science Libraries.

What we have been able to do, therefore, in bringing the Student Centre online is to create a fully digital learning environment – one which encourages both quiet study and group/collaborative working. There are also bookable study rooms which students can reserve for discrete group working, intelligent lockers, and banks of laptops which can be loaned.

The building also houses the public-facing services from the UCL Registry and thus provides a one-stop shop for student learning and support queries.

The space the building occupies was originally the College Hall, which was destroyed by bombing in the Second World War. It has taken decades for UCL to decide the use to which this plot of land should be put. It is fantastic that the Library has gained such a footprint in this wonderful building; and it is the Library who will be responsible for operating the building now that our students are beginning to use it. Already in the second day of its opening, I have received e-mails from university libraries all over the country asking to be able to come and visit the Centre and to discuss with us the UCL model for the library of the 21st century.

Congratulations to everyone in UCL Library Services who has contributed to delivering on this brilliant project. It is a proud moment in our history that we have added such a prestigious site and project into the UCL family of libraries.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

PaulAyris21 November 2018

UCL Library Services Strategic Operating Plan 2019-21

Every year, the Library is expected to issue a Strategic Operating Plan (SOP), drawing on the Library Strategy, which details what we will commit to deliver in the coming 3 years. The Strategic Operating Plan 2019-22 was duly submitted on Friday 16 November. Click on the link to read the whole document (43pp).

Every professional service, and every academic Faculty, has to submit a SOP each year. In this way, UCL can ensure that all the major activities undertaken across UCL are aligned with UCL 2034.  The Library SOP does not only acknowledge the importance of this institutional strategy. The new Library Strategy has also been very important in creating the framework for this strategic planning document. The new Library Strategy was approved by Library Committee earlier this term, following extensive consultation in the Library and across UCL, and will shortly be made available on the Library’s website.

There are 6 Key Performance Areas in the new Library Strategy and the SOP, and these are:

  • User Experience
  • Staffing, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion
  • Finance and Management Information
  • Systems, Collections, and Processes
  • Sustainable Estate
  • Communication, Outreach, and Open Science

There are 73 Actions identified in the Implementation Plans for the Library Strategy and these will be delivered and monitored by KPA leaders through the new Library Strategy Committee. So 2019 will be an exciting time as we implement a fresh wave of activity. But perhaps the most significant action identified in the SOP is the opening of the Student Centre in February 2019. Here is the picture that I took today (21 November). 1,000 digitally-enabled learning spaces will transform the learning experience of UCL students based in Bloomsbury. It will also enable us to re-think some of our existing learning spaces after the new Student Centre comes online. The new SOP rightly highlights the impact that this major new building will make on the Library and on the 3,000,000+ visits to library spaces that already happen each year, making UCL one of the most heavily used academic libraries in the UK.

Please feel free to share any comments on the SOP and the new Library Strategy, once published, so that these can be shared with the Library Strategy Committee and elsewhere.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

Cruciform Hub Opens with Fanfare

PaulAyris16 January 2015

Cruciform_Hub_opening15 January 2015 saw the formal opening of the UCL Cruciform Hub. 150 guests assembled in the Hub to hear the Provost and President, Professor Michael Arthur, describe his delight at the opening of this new learning space for UCL. Following on from UCL’s fantastic results in REF 2014, the Provost described the Cruciform Hub as a companion strand of activity which will fundamentally change the learning experience for students in UCL.

The Hub itself was jointly opened by Professor Jane Dacre (UCL and President of the Royal College of Physicians) and Dr Deborah Gill (Interim Director, UCL Medical School). Professor Dacre was able to tell the audience that the space by the entrance to the Hub, where the ceremony took place, was (as she remembered it) once the UCLH Pharmacy, opened by a Dickensian key by those who needed to collect drugs for the Hospital.

As Director of Library Services, I was honoured to give the vote of thanks and to explain just how revolutionary these learning spaces are. I explained to the audience that, in a formal consultation, the project had received over 1,000 comments from students telling us what they wanted their new learning spaces to look like. By common assent, they set the model for all learning spaces in UCL in the coming years. The Provost referred to the new Student Centre, being built on the Beach site, which will have 1,000 learning spaces. These spaces will be managed by UCL Library Services and it is the mix of learning spaces in the Cruciform Hub which will set the baseline for this further provision.

The UCL Medical School Choir gave musical performances throughout the 2 hour party. There were exhibitions of objects from UCL Public and Cultural Engagement (PACE) and from UCL Special Collections. A prize object, which drew lots of attention and praise, was an original copy of Vesalius’s De Humani Corporis Fabrica, 2nd edition (1555), the first book on scientific anatomy – UCL has three copies.

The opening ceremony and party were a great success and a fantastic advert for the Library and the way it is delivering, with others, the UCL 2034 vision. All those involved in the project and in arranging the opening ceremony and party are to be congratulated on a fantastic result.