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New web content management system coming Autumn 2016

Robert Drinkall21 April 2016

The Silva content management system (CMS) which underpins both our public website and our staff intranet is now at the end of its life. ISD has selected a new CMS and plans to start migrating departmental websites to it from Autumn 2016.

Additionally, as a stepping stone to moving the new CMS, ISD is recommending that departments first migrate their websites to the Indigo responsive design pattern library.

We’re currently talking to ISD about both Indigo and the new CMS and I’ll update you when I have further information.

Eastman Library refurbishment

Anna Di Iorio19 February 2016

Phase 2 of the Eastman Library refurbishment is now complete. The library quiet reading room and mezzanine have been renovated and fitted with new, fully IT-enabled desks, and some desktop computers have been installed for readers who wish to use a computer and don’t have their own laptop.

We have also converted the upstairs photocopy room into an IT-enabled study room which can be used on a walk-in basis.

We hope that this upgrade will provide a high-quality, modern space which will improve the experience of all the Eastman users.

The Eastman Library – and our equipment, including iPads – also features in the new promotional UCL Eastman Dental Institute video (although this was filmed before phase 2 of the refurbishment!)

UCL Eastman Dental Library quiet reading room

UCL Eastman Dental Library newly refurbished quiet reading room


Service Improvement Task Group – CSGUK

Rachel L Nelligan22 September 2015

Since the Customer Service Group UK’s inception in 2012, as part of the M25 Consortium, the group has been made up of four task groups as well as the steering committee – Quality in Customer Service, Benchmarking, Service Improvement and Communication and Events. I’ve been part of the Service Improvements Task Group since the beginning, and our initial tasks were to look into how Mystery Shopping can identify weaknesses and measure improvements in customer service, and to facilitate information sharing around split vs. focussed roles of Library Assistants. In December 2013 we held an event through CPD25 on split vs. focussed roles through the CPD25 group, but our work on mystery shopping had remained an outstanding task.

Since CSGUK went national, the Service Improvement task group has reformed with new members from around the UK, and a new Chair, Helen Loughran from Leeds Beckett University. Friday 18th September saw our first meeting with our new members at the University of Leicester.

Our tasks for the day were to review our terms of reference and sign off on the work of the previous incarnation of the group on mystery shopping. We started with a rather intense discussion about what our role is within the context of the other task groups, and particular look at how our work is different to that of the Quality in Customer Service group. We started thinking about what we mean by service improvement, and identified a gap between analysing what a library does to find weaknesses and areas for improvement and what a library does to assess the impact of those improvements. Carrying out surveys, customer journey mapping, and other similar feedback tools can be used at both the beginning and end of a process of service improvements, but how does a library approach the actual “doing” of the service improvement? How are service improvement projects managed? Gathering case studies and creating a framework for approaching service improvements, we feel, would be a useful set of resources for library staff across the UK to be able to access. Helen Loughran will be taking these recommendations to the Steering Group next week.

Our work on mystery shopping began a few years ago when we gathered some examples of MS exercises from some of the M25 Consortium libraries. We identified a number of ways of tackling MS (which we decided to rename “Mystery Visiting” in the context of libraries): useful hints and tips, example questions and possible pitfalls. These are now going to be written up and placed on the CSGUK website in the near future.

The day wouldn’t have been complete without a tour of our hosting library. The University of Leicester’s David Wilson Library is a 1970’s building that has recently been sympathetically refurbished, scaling back on the print resources to provide more computer terminals and group study spaces, as well as a very swish looking postgraduate room. As usual when I visit these large campus libraries I get space envy – they even have “trolley rooms” on each floor, so that bays of trolleys aren’t visible to their users! What luxury! I also loved their very simple, white on black signage.

You can view the current work of the CSGUK on the website: http://www.customerservicesgroup.co.uk/

University of Leicester Self-service Book ReturnUniversity of Leicester Reading Room


Laptop loans in the Main Library

James C Henderson18 March 2015

Monday 16th of March saw the launch of laptop loans services in the Main Library.  This incentive amounts to a tacit expansion of library study spaces, by allowing students to roam free with borrowed technology.  We can expect the British Museum, British Library and the other public locations in the Bloomsbury area – perhaps even a few coffee shops – to welcome those with essays to write and research. 

24 gleaming machines are housed in an imposing steel cabinet with just enough of 1970s Doctor Who about it (there are breathing holes) to be charming.  We anticipate the venture will be a great success, as it provides not just a computer for those that might not have one but also the possibility of escape from the building noise currently worrying the main library.

 Curfew for the laptops is 10.00pm.  They must be returned to the drawer from which they were taken and connected to a power supply for the return to be completed.  The same card is needed for issue and return, which should ensure that they are treated with care rather than being handed round like a bag of jelly beans.  As the machines are programmed to reset themselves after every use, to clear files and so forth, students will be advised to save work to memory sticks or make use of cloud services.

 Any members of library services who would like a demonstration should feel free to talk to the assistants at MID, who will be glad to give them a run through. 

Further details are available here:



Students as Customers

Tom Claydon18 February 2015

I attended the CPD25 Event ‘Students as Customers’ on the afternoon of 14th January.

The first presentation, ‘From customers to consultants, the evolving role of students’ was delivered by Angela Brady, from Aston University. This presentation focussed on consulting students in order to provide a service that best suits their needs. Angela made it very clear that this does not equal acquiescing to all student demands, but hearing these demands, and then applying the professional judgement of Library staff.

Aston implemented a comprehensive consultation scheme (students were remunerated for their participation) covering ‘environmental’ questions; food, phones, litter, heating and ventilation, use of building(s), and refurbishment. And ‘collection’ matters’; reading lists, availability of books, computers and laptops, guides, opening hours, fines and reservations. They even included students in the preparation of the tender for overnight security, and currently include a student representative on the interview panels for frontline staff. Radical.

One key problem identified was how wasteful the reserve (recall/request here) system was. Many books are reserved and never collected, and are therefore needlessly out of circulation.

The usual grumbles were raised (“Why isn’t there a copy for everyone on the course” “Other people should return books I request but I shouldn’t have to return books they request” – that kind of thing). Students appear to fail to understand the Library as a communal resource.

Using some clever group consultation techniques, students were shown that their hopeless study techniques (borrow books then ignore them till three days before deadline) were not unique, but entirely commonplace, hence the competition for resources at given times.

The Library implemented the following as a result:

  • Borrowers only fined on books that are reserved
  • Fines (on overdue reserved items) raised to £3.50 per day
  • Fines applied to all borrowers of a requested book until a copy is returned
  • Borrowers are advised to return a copy then reserve it, rather than hanging on to it


  • Over the year, fines income dropped by 50%
  • The number of reservations was consistent with the previous year
  • More than 50% more reservations were actually used/collected
  • Hold period cut to three days


Next, Alison Philips of Westminster discussed the Disability Buddy Scheme at Westminster.

This is an excellent idea, trialled this (2014) year. Ten 2nd year ‘buddies’ matched up with 10 new students with disabilities to help them with orientation week; campus and resources familiarisation and so on.

It proved very successful, but it was thought that there is a need to develop a more sophisticated selection process for buddies. The students who were helped by the buddies generally gave positive feedback, and the buddies were keen to do it again, and interest/demand is expected to rise.

With the DSA cuts universities are going to have to provide more disability support from their own budgets in future.


At the end of the afternoon a brief discussion took place, the key points raised therein were:

  • A good alternative to fines is the ‘block’ system, whereby if a book is returned, say, three days late, the user’s account will be blocked for the next three days.
  • The hold (reserve/recall/request) system is wasteful pretty much everywhere
  • Where Customer Service Excellence accreditation was initiated, staff really engaged with it in a very enthusiastic manner

And the big question remains; how do we adapt and become a part of forming the new role that students now occupy, as customer and student. We aren’t Amazon or Next. But we aren’t the ‘free’ educational resource we once were. The new role is not yet set. What are we as Librarians going to contribute to the creation of this new custudent?


Tom Claydon

Customer Services Group UK National Conference

Breege Whiten11 February 2015

CSGUK’s National Annual Conference 2014

Last November, Breege Whiten (Acting Head of Issue Desk Services), Noreen Beecher (Head of Evening and Weekend Services) and Jason Hobart (Science Library Desk Head) attended the first Annual Conference of the Customer Services Group UK with a view to discover more about the provision of excellent services for our users.

CSGUK was 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. The group aligned with the M25 Consortium because they shared the aim of collaborating within academic Libraries to improve services. While CSGUK still shares this aim with the M25 Consortium it now works with Libraries across the UK.

The aims of the group are:
• Discuss and share knowledge of new developments in customer service generally, and within Libraries more specifically
• Share knowledge and techniques used around measures already implemented in HE libraries
• Discuss and develop methods for improving customer service, especially where there is potential for active collaborative working.
The title of the conference was: “What Does Excellence Really Look Like? Tangible Examples of Quality In Customer Service” and there were enlightening presentations throughout the day from award-winning speakers from both HE and the public sector discussing the changes they made to their services in order to achieve the Customer Service Excellence Award.

It was nice to see our former colleague, Lis Hannon among the organisers of the event which took place in the unique surroundings of the Magic Circle Club Headquarters which was first established in 1905. During lunch, it was good to meet and network with colleagues from other institutions amidst some fascinating memorabilia celebrating the careers of eminent conjurers such as David Devant, Jasper Maskelyne and Paul Daniels!

Breege, Noreen and Jason each attended different sessions and below are a selection of session write ups, on a varied range of approaches to customer services excellence.
The session entitled: “Improving Services Using Lean Methodology” focused on the application within the Library environment of a systemic method for the elimination of waste that was pioneered by Toyota in the 1980’s. Essentially, lean production is centred on making obvious what adds value by reducing everything else. Working from the perspective of the client who consumes a product or service, “value” is any action or process that a customer would be willing to pay for. The presentation certainly made one consider how many potentially superfluous, time consuming and, ultimately wasteful steps exist within our workflows. These are often overlooked and never interrogated in terms of their value to the customer simply because they form part of a tradition. When reviewing workflows, it’s important to ask of each step: “do we continue to include this because it enhances customer satisfaction? Or do we continue to include this because that simply is the way we have always done it?”
Another session attended focused on the adoption and integration of a ‘Compliance Plus Culture’ and the talk was led by Erin Caseley and colleagues from KCL. Their aim was to achieve the Customer Service Excellent Award for which 5 key areas are assessed;
1. Customer Insight
2. The Culture of the organisation
3. Information and access
4. Delivery
5. Timeliness and quality of the service
The focus for the KCL team was around, Strategy, Market orientation, Values and Empowerment. They began by identifying their main customer groups and assessing the needs of the different groups using customer journey maps to see how they interacted with the services offered and helping to group or categorise types of customers accordingly. The experiences shared in the session highlighted the need to be accepting of honest customer feedback that could identify some areas of service provision that were failing, the focus then became to engage with those disaffected customers and involving them in the redefining / reviewing of processes aimed at ensuring the 5 key areas assessed were front and centre of the customer service experience. Additional benchmarking exercises were conducted to help identify areas for improvement.
The key areas of focus for service improvement were ensuring relevant team plans enabled staff to work towards the same goals and objectives offering opportunities for staff to be involved. KCL aim to empower and encourage all employees to actively promote and participate in the customer focused culture of the organisation ensuring;
• Freedom to make decisions within a framework of guidance
• Staff responsible for decision making
• Responsive and inclusive
• Maintaining a consistent and fair service
The session entitled: “Customer Service Excellence – Making It Real” was lead by Jenny Share from Leeds Metropolitan University. It concentrated on giving the delegates tips and ideas about successfully gaining your Customer Service Excellence Award (CSEA). Jenny was very enthusiastic about the whole of your institution taking on the challenge of the CSEA and intimated that the work put in to the award shouldn’t always come ‘from the top down’, it needs to involve all grades of staff, and in particular those who work in front line roles. Leeds embedded getting their CSE award in to their library strategy (like UCL Library Services have) with a realistic deadline to work towards. Communication is key, not only with staff but also library users, and feedback on your customer service is paramount. Leeds employed mystery shoppers to test out their customer services, and encouraged feedback from library users at all points on the way. When the time came Leeds appointed an external assessor to help prepare for the assessment and provided evidence through many formats including written documents, films, events organised, and student feedback. Jenny said it was important to have a culture of celebration of staff and achievements at all levels, and that when the process was completed a large all staff party was held (something which we know how to do only too well at UCL!).

KCL presentation

KCL presentation

Cruciform Hub Opens with Fanfare

Paul Ayris16 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.

UCL East Library

Benjamin Meunier15 January 2015

Dear colleagues,

Shortly before Christmas, I gave this presentation to colleagues in UCL Special Collections on the vision for a new library in UCL East: UCL East 151214

Searching for suitable images of “East London” from our digital library, I found the cartoon below. How things have changed since 1901 and An illustrated history and guide to East London…

East London

UCL East is a tremendous opportunity for us to enhance our Outreach activities, and it will become a real showcase for UCL Special Collections. Current plans are to base about half of UCL Special Collections in a new building on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (QEOP), with a focus on London Social History. The collections and research activity around those will support work on the UCL Grand Challenge of Intercultural Interaction. Local partners around QEOP include the V&A, Smithsonian Institute and a number of London Boroughs.




The new library in UCL East will also provide hundreds of additional study spaces, to support students who will be living on site and the teaching and learning activity which will be happening there.

These slides give a snapshot of what the Library at UCL East might look like. As for the FAQ on my first slide, the answer is that there won’t be a swimming pool in the library… Do get in touch if you are interested in finding out more, or post any comments below.