Students Staff
University of Essex

March 27, 2017

Engaging with our library users

If you’ve been in the Albert Sloman Library recently you’ll have noticed some big changes. These are part of a much wider strategy to engage more fully with students, staff and researchers and enable them to make the most of our extensive collections and resources.

Here, our Director of Library Services, Cathy Walsh, tells us more. 

Moving towards digital content

An image of Cathy Walsh.

Director of Library Services, Cathy Walsh.

As well as over a million printed items on our shelves the Library provides over 350,000 individual journal titles, 95% of which are accessible online.  This shows the extent to which the library has moved towards digital content and delivery while maintaining its traditional print collections.

Self service

We’ve made some significant changes to the the way we do things, including the introduction of self-service at the Albert Sloman Library. Our users now borrow their books using self- service kiosks and return them via an automatic returns unit which also sorts the books ready for re-shelving. More than 90% of library transactions at Colchester are now self service.

A new security system

Introducing RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology has allowed us to introduce a new security system, getting rid of bag checks as people leave the library. This has received a lot of positive feedback from our students!  This new approach means our staff now have more time to support students in other ways, including providing ‘roving’ support out on the library floors and brushing up on their information skills, enabling our students to make the best use of library resources for their studies.

Listening to our users

In October 2016 we abolished fines for all overdue books, unless they are requested by another library user, and we introduced unlimited borrowing so that people can take out as many items as they need. We also launched the new Library Advisory Group (LAG) which includes both staff and student representatives from all academic departments, Library staff, SU representatives and colleagues from other Professional Services. Any member of the university is welcome to come along if they have something to say about our services.

The LAG meets four times a year and meetings take the form of themed workshops, including an open forum where attendees can raise any library related issues. Themes this year have included ‘Time and Space’, looking at students’ views on study space and their preferred times for using the library, and ‘Simpler Fairer Quicker’, reviewing the changes we made at the start of the year and proposing further improvements .

See for yourself

We hope to see many more colleagues at future LAG meetings – in the meantime please do pop into the Albert Sloman Library  to see the changes for yourself.

You can also keep in touch with the library on Twitter and Facebook.

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