News from member libraries

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University of Sussex

This has been an extremely productive and exciting time for the University of Sussex library as we prepare for major changes over the next 18 months.

Library refurbishment

Following the award of a HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) grant for a major refurbishment of the library at Sussex, the planning process is now in full swing. The architects, Woods Bagot, were appointed in January 2009 and are working closely with library staff, English Heritage and other stakeholders to develop a design that is both modern in terms of functionality whilst remaining sympathetic to the vision of the original architect, Sir Basil Spence. The key objectives of the project are to:

provide flexible, accessible, technology-rich learning space

implement RFID, including an automated book sorter, to facilitate all loan transactions

zone study areas to provide social, group, individual and silent learning spaces

provide a graduate study area

provide open-access compact shelving

co-locate careers within the library building

provide an upgraded café

redesign and refurbish existing office space

re-organise the library collections to improve accessibility and navigation.

The physical works are due to begin in December 2009, for completion in spring 2011, so it’s going to be a very busy 18 months.


Again as part of the library’s refurbishment project, we went out to tender in April for a RFID self-service implementation, which will include a book sorter, using the LUPC (London Universities Purchasing Consortium) framework agreement for RFID. The contract has been awarded to Intellident. Tagging began on 10 July and we expect to have the book stock and audio visual collection tagged by the end of September 2009. Self-service equipment will be installed and tested in the autumn, ready for an expected ‘go live’ date of January 2010. Through implementing RFID we aim to:

significantly increase the proportion of our self-service issue and return transactions to as near 100% as possible

reduce the amount of staff-mediated transactions, including fines payments, and so free up staff time for more pro-active user services

reduce shelving times by automating the sorting of returned items

improve stock-management capabilities through utilising RFID-based technology for stock-checking and locating missing items

improve the ‘look and feel’ of our services

enhance the user experience and increase user satisfaction.

Refining our collection and preparing for the refurbishment

Sussex will participate in the second phase of the UKRR (UK Research Reserve) project. We plan to withdraw up to 2.5 kilometres of low-use print journals over the next few years. The majority of the material will duplicate online content for which we have bought perpetual access. In addition, and to facilitate our major refurbishment, virtually all our print journals will move to a local store later in the year. They will return to the library as a single entity at the end of the project in 2011.

Talis Aspire

Sussex is one of the pilot sites for the Talis Aspire project. First impressions of the new product are very positive, with academics in our focus group and their students agreeing that the look is a major improvement on the old Talis List. All our existing lists in Talis List have been converted to Aspire and are accessible from within individual course sites on the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). Currently, academic staff have read-only access since the reporting mechanisms to alert library staff of changes made to a list have yet to be developed, but these mechanisms, we are assured by Talis, are under way.

Library staff are working extremely hard in testing the functionality of the system so far, to identify areas that are not working as expected and areas for future development, which are then reported directly to Talis for resolution/consideration.

Archival management system

We have recently purchased the CALM archival management system. This will give us the facility to efficiently record, manage and cross-search all our extensive archival collections for the first time. We are confident that this will open up our special collections to more researchers (both at Sussex and beyond) and to new teaching opportunities. We hope to launch this catalogue to the public early in the autumn term of 2009.

Sally Faith


Swansea University

Customer Service Excellence

Following a period of assessment in May 2009 library & information services was very pleased to receive the Customer Service Excellence award. This is the UK national standard of customer service excellence for public sector organisations and is overseen by the Cabinet Office. LIS previously held the Chartermark award, from 2006.

Virtual academic library

The three universities in south west Wales (Swansea University, Swansea Metropolitan University and Trinity University College) are collaborating under the £7.4 million South West Wales Higher Education Partnership (SWWHEP), funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW). The partnership funds a variety of projects, ranging from joint procurement to shared e-learning platforms.

One of the largest SWWHEP projects is the virtual academic library initiative, which aims at a unified approach to resources and services across the libraries of the three universities. A major deliverable of the virtual academic library is a standard, RFID-based lending system for all libraries across the partnership. This has meant tagging the entire stock of the three university libraries: 1.1 million items in total. The RFID project is due for completion in September 2009, when all the RFID self-service units in all the library branches will have gone live.

Another key component of the SWWHEP library project is developing unified discovery tools. This will be based on the joint purchase and implementation of the Metalib resource discovery platform, the VuFind portal and the Relais document delivery system.

The virtual academic library project is due for completion in autumn 2010 and will be one of the widest-ranging examples of university library partnership in the UK.

Summer refurbishments

The library & information centre at Swansea University is having one of its regular summer make-overs. This is driven by the installation of new, RFID-based self-service units (see above on the virtual academic library). We are also re-designing and re-focussing our service points and associated frontline staff areas to unify a previously separate range of services for our customers. Some of the vintage nineteen-sixties lighting in our bookstacks is being upgraded to more modern, energy-efficient lighting. Last, but not least, our toilet areas are also having a much-needed update.

Archives is in the process of moving its materials into a new facility which will provide more spacious, purpose-designed accommodation for readers and documents. The move of the documents is progressing well and will be followed by the construction of a new reading room and staff accommodation, due for completion in autumn 2009. As a result of the move, Archives will be closed to all readers from Monday 1 June and will re-open on Tuesday 1 September 2009.

Aloha Hawaii!

In May 2009 medical school deputy librarian Katrina Dalziel attended the ‘iFusions’ American Medical Library Association conference held this year in Honolulu, Hawaii.

She was awarded a bursary by the CILIP HLG (Health Libraries Group) and EBSCO in order to attend. Katrina kept us up to date (and rather envious!) with conference news whilst she was in Honolulu via the HLG Wales blog:

Rachel Whitfield

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