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Liverpool John Moores University

Launch of new service – library and student support

From 1 September 2009, library and student support (L&SS) will be launched, and will begin to function as a newly converged service operating from the learning resource centres (LRCs) at John Moores University.

L&SS was created by bringing together services and associated staff from learning and information services and the campus centres (previously part of student services). From January 2010 it will also include generic student-facing administrative services previously offered from the faculty offices. The new service operates from the three LRCs (Aldham Robarts, Avril Robarts, I. M. Marsh). The services provided by L&SS include:

library and learning resources: includes collection management, digitisation, circulation of learning materials, purchasing, copyright support, information literacy, research support, archives, study support, liaison with academics

ICT support: includes open-access PCs and peripherals, open-access copying and print services, laptop loans, IT enquiry support, IT workshops for staff

student administration: includes enrolment, student records, finance, coursework submission, withdrawals, module registration

programme enquiries: includes student enquiries about the administration of programmes.

In addition, the LRCs will provide space for other student services, most notably careers and employability and welfare and counselling. This approach provides all core student support services in one campus-based location.

New building projects

As part of our convergence we have redesigned and refurbished all three of our LRCs. This is so that we could bring together the teams of staff that will be working together, and also to give as much space as possible to the students. Therefore we have been co-ordinating three very different building projects during the course of the year. This has presented several challenges (including closing the Aldham Robarts LRC for five months in order to do some major refurbishment work), but it will all be worthwhile once the new LRCs are fully operational. In effect the new LRCs represent the old libraries and campus centres, but all under one roof and with one set of staff delivering services.

The service model

L&SS supports all members of the university and provides access and support to scholars from other universities as well as members of the public. Its collections (both print and digital), staff, space and web services support research as well as learning and teaching. This broad-based support contains a very strong focus on the student experience, placing a high priority on student satisfaction. The service model is therefore designed to place student needs at the forefront but to ensure that the broader clientele of L&SS have easy access to its staff and services. The service model is delivered in the three campus-based LRCs via:

student support zone: the ground floor of each LRC concentrates on student support. A ‘welcome hub’ provides reception, general enquiry support, appointments and referrals, assistance with IT and circulation enquiries (all loans of print material are self-service). A transaction desk provides all student administration help, including finance. Social learning support is also provided on the ground floor, i.e. flexible space allowing people to work collaboratively, with refreshments available. The ground floor is supported by roving staff as well as staff on the desks. The Aldham Robarts and Avril Robarts LRCs continue to be open 24x7 in semester time.

specialist support services: appointments and referrals, as well as some drop-in facilities provide access to specialist support services on other floors in the LRCs. These services tend to require extended one-to-one support and are sometimes confidential in nature. Small multi-use rooms are provided for these meetings and are designed so that they can be used by students for group study when not in use by support professionals. The services provided include welfare, careers, employability, library subject support and specialist computing support.

study facilities: the LRCs continue to provide a range of student facilities adjacent to print-based learning resources. Silent-study facilities are concentrated on the upper floors of the buildings. There are also bookable group rooms and seminar rooms.

remote services: as many services and facilities as possible are provided via the web or via phone and e-mail help. L&SS have taken the opportunity presented through the merger to channel all remote enquiries coming into the new service to a central enquiry point. This ‘call centre’ type of approach to handling enquiries will allow us to provide greater response to all telephone, e-mail and web-based enquiries. We will be making use of specialist ‘Help Desk’ software which will enable us to log, track and appropriately refer enquiries.

We anticipate that there will be interest in this newly converged model from staff in other SCONUL libraries and we will publicise details of scheduled open days or specially arranged visits once we are ready to receive visitors.

Leo Appleton


Nottingham Trent University

NTU libraries & learning resources wins customer service excellence award

Libraries & learning resources (LLR) at Nottingham Trent University is among the few university libraries to gain the new government award for customer service excellence (CSE). It is the first university library to do so with no previous experience of Charter Mark, CSE’s predecessor, or other external accreditation, and marks LLR’s commitment to developing its quality agenda.

Preparing for assessment involved staff across the library and prompted a fresh look at all aspects of service delivery, but especially those frontline services which have immediate and daily impact on students and academic staff, and which have been the focus of recent changes following the introduction of RFID and self-service.

Winning the award has confirmed that the changes are working and appreciated, not least by our students, academics and other professional service partners, who all participated in the assessment visits, as this remark by one of the senior administrators in the University shows:

Thank you for asking us to be part of the process. It was nice to have positive things to say and show part of the University off to an outsider.’

Benefits of undertaking this award include a framework for continuous quality review and improvement, a sense of achievement and renewed motivation amongst frontline staff and a raised profile within both the university and the sector.

The external assessors were EMQC Limited of Derby.

Celia Coates


University of Plymouth

Library building re-named

The University of Plymouth library will be known as the Charles Seale-Hayne library from September 2009, although the official renaming ceremony is yet to be arranged. Sir Charles Seale-Hayne was responsible for establishing Seale-Hayne College in 1911, which became part of the Polytechnic South West (now University of Plymouth) in 1989. Following the closure of the Seale-Hayne campus in 2005, it was agreed that the library would take the name in order to reflect the importance of this local benefactor, who also endowed an educational trust that exists to this day and is managed by the university.

Staffing changes

Steve Monk, head of learning environment & information services (computing), has retired after nearly 30 years’ service with the university. Over that period Steve has played an important part in many of the central IT services.  For the last five years he has been responsible for the open-access computing and media services. His most notable achievements in that role were the establishment of our 24x7 open-access area in the library and the introduction of print accounting across the university. Julia Paget-Woods will now take the lead in all learning environment & information services, adding the computing role to her existing library responsibilities.

Chris Watson has retired after seven years at the university, initially as library manager at the Plymouth campus and latterly as collection services manager. Following her retirement, Fiona Greig will lead a new content and development team, bringing together the functions of contract and supplier management, content lifecycle, resource description, systems and e-development. Other role changes include Nicola Tricker (now contracts & negotiation manager), Nicette Ammar (content lifecycle manager), Vicki Maguire (resource description manager) and Graham Titley (subject librarian and copyright advisor).

Service development

ILS staff are actively involved in two major university projects – enterprise-wide implementation of an e-portfolio system (based on PebblePad) and development of a research information management system, including the institutional repository and publications. In both cases, ILS staff are active in technical development, advocacy and training.

We also continue to be heavily involved with the development of Talis Aspire, the new resource list system. We have been actively working with Talis for ten months now (August 2009) and have had development engagement in the student view and academic elements. We have migrated all the old online reading lists to Aspire and have signed up over 100 academics to the Aspire service. Our project team, led by the three subject librarians, has led a series of promotional activities and events to get the message of ‘Free your reading lists’ across the campus. We are now feeding ideas to Talis on how recommendation for purchase and the more ‘library’-focused activities can be developed.

We have also had a successful transition of our off-air recording service into a university-hosted and Plymouth-specific ‘Box of Broadcasts’ (BoB) system. We implemented it in November to a small select group of ILS staff and went ‘live’ with a soft launch in May. Again BoB has been seen at a number of university and teaching and learning events and has been embraced by the academic staff. We now have academics making exciting use of recorded materials when they were not even aware of the service before this year. Library staff are now going through a process of selecting and ‘digitising’ core materials from the old off-air recordings.

Fiona Greig


University of Reading

Extended opening hours satisfy student needs

Since April 2009, our customers have enjoyed the extension of the opening hours of our Main Library Whiteknights, until midnight in term and Easter vacations. After several years of working towards this, at last – following a popular pilot using library staff volunteers last session and supported by a students’ union campaign – the university provided the funds for new dedicated evening teams to embed the extended hours. Additionally, during the 2009 April/May exam period another volunteer pilot project kept the main library open later at weekends to meet student needs. We hope to continue this on a more formal basis in future.

Rachel Redrup


Royal Holloway University of London

Under new management

A new library management team has been in place since January 2009 in Royal Holloway University of London. Coral Black (associate director, planning and administration) and Tim Wales (associate director, e-strategy) have joined John Tuck (director of library services) and Matthew Brooke (associate director, academic support). Other staff changes have included the appointments of Anna Grigson as e-resources manager and Graham Seaman as systems officer and more recently, following the departure of Damyanti Patel to Birmingham City University, the appointment of Paul Johnson as head of academic liaison.

Major challenges during the year, apart from facing the inevitable retrenchment brought about by the credit crunch, have included the embedding of the new social learning space in the Bedford library (tlc@bedford), planning for improved silent-study space and a refurbishment of Bedford library level 3 over the summer of 2009, as well as preliminary discussions on a planned merger with St George’s University of London (a decision on the merger is scheduled for the autumn).

Social learning space

Issue 46 of SCONUL Focus contained a detailed article about tlc@bedford. After a full academic year of operation, it is pleasing to note that usage of the remodelled space (based on sample day headcounts) is up by 38.9%. The IT-rich environment and the group-study spaces have been welcomed by many students. Their enjoyment and engagement with the space are reflected in comments made in the film that can be seen at or on YouTube (1,461 viewings at time of writing). This enthusiasm is not shared by the whole student community. At a two-hour Question Time-style debate – ‘Your library: love it or loathe it’ – held in January 2009, there was a polarisation of views around the merits of such spaces and library cafes and on the need for greater investment in information resources and silent-study space.

Bedford library level 3 refurbishment

Over the summer of 2009 the top floor of the Bedford library is being refurbished to provide a comfortable, DDA (Disability Discrimination Act)-compliant silent-study space. The aims of the project, scheduled for completion in time for the 2009/10 academic session, are to replace the 16-year-old carpet, accompanying pig-pen study spaces and outdated lighting with a modern range of furniture, fittings and lighting conducive to reflective study.


The management team has overseen the revision and updating of a whole range of policy statements. A particular success has been a new staff environmental policy. This work, energetically led by graduate trainee Franckie Dunckley, culminated in a publicity campaign and the provision of a multitude of recycling bins and receptacles, all of which have been met with the full support and cooperation of the student body and have added yet more colour to tlc@bedford. A joint ‘Red Nose day’ venture with our students led to the concerted collection of fines on that day and their subsequent gift to charities.


Not Twin Peaks but ‘Box of broadcasts’, to which we were pleased to be an early subscriber. This online TV and radio archiving service enables subscribing institution members to watch and archive – for educational purposes – programmes from a wide range of UK broadcasting channels (including BBC1, BBC2, BBC3, BBC4, ITV, Channel 4, Channel Five, BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4). Archived programmes can be viewed, clips can be made and personal or shared playlists created. The service, acquired in February 2009, is proving extremely popular at Royal Holloway. There have been 415 subscribers here so far and 1,842 broadcasts flagged up for recording and archiving.

And finally…

In our review of policies, we looked closely at past practice and decided not to reverse the following Bedford College decision of 1936 (RHUL Archives, BC AL 901/131):

`Bedford College for Women

Letter: May 8th 1936

Dear Miss Paterson,

As you know, last year I published a College regulation to the effect that stockings should be worn by students in the Library, at examinations and lectures. I do not think this rule has been very well observed as I had a very widely signed petition asking that it should be rescinded. After talking the matter over with the Union Committee, I am convinced that the rule could not be enforced except at the cost of more friction than is wise. I have therefore withdrawn it…

Yours sincerely,

G. Jebb’

John Tuck


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