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Library Strategy

2nd draft revision - March 2005


1. To support UCL as a global university, committed to excellence in research, learning, teaching and access; and to provide a clear strategic direction which will enable Library Services to deliver this Vision.


2. To provide an information infrastructure to enable UCL's research to be world class.

3.  To offer a student experience which supports UCL's global outreach.

4.  To develop library and information professionals who are innovative and can offer leadership to UCL and to the national/international library community.


5.  The new Library Strategy is being developed in the context of important changes to the nature of UK Higher Education and must take account of these developments.

6.  The Library Strategy should, as a matter of course, be aligned with all existing and future UCL strategies and policies.

Political Context

7.  The development of the Research Libraries Network (RLN) will have a major impact on the Mission of Library Services nationally and internationally. UK research libraries will receive strategic direction from the RLN, and the RLN will have influence over new funding streams.

8.  The development of the University of London 's own Information Strategy will itself impact on UCL's provision for research (see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/uolstrat.shtml ).

Market context

9.  The changing role of the British Library (BL) will also influence the way provision for UK researchers will develop, particularly as it seeks to align its document delivery and archiving role with that of Higher Education.

Social context

10.  The nature and expectations of the student body are changing as the real costs of their education become more transparent and as they bear an increasing proportion of these costs themselves. Part-time study, short courses and Distance Learning are becoming more prevalent in UK Higher Education.

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Technological context

11.  Rapid developments in Information Technology, e-Learning and the offerings of global Information providers provide a dynamic context with which the whole of UCL must engage vigorously to enhance its role as a global university.

The objectives of the Library Strategy

12.  The Library Strategy is informed by ten key objectives. These are:

  • Learning and Teaching Support (paras. 13-23)
  • Research Support (paras. 24-53)
  • Supporting the Student Experience (paras. 54-71)
  • E-Strategy development (paras. 72-79)
  • Widening Access and Participation (paras. 80-84)
  • Fundraising activities (paras. 85-89)
  • Partnerships (paras. 90-95)
  • Developing Library Services' profile outside UCL (paras. 96-102)
  • Continuing Staff Development (paras. 103-108)
  • Planning, Resourcing and Communication (paras. 109-114)
Objective 1: Learning and Teaching Support

13.  Library Services is, and will continue to be, the main source of information provision for students at UCL on taught courses. As such, UCL must strive to be (as far as possible) self-sufficient in terms of providing for the needs of all taught course students up to taught Masters level.

Collection Management

14.  The development of a revised Collection Management policy (see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/cmp.shtml ) has enabled the Library to identify current needs from colleagues in academic Departments in terms of taught course provision. This policy will be kept under continuous review to reflect the changing emphases of UCL's academic provision and recruitment of students.


15.  A major development within UCL has been the rollout of a campus-wide Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Library Services is already an established user of this technology. It will continue to develop its partnership with academic departments to utilize this technology where academic departments use the VLE to support their delivery of the curriculum

16.  The Library will further develop the Teaching and Learning Support Section within Library Services with new staff and services to support UCL's emerging E-Learning strategies.

17.  The expected delivery of a blanket digital licence by the Copyright Licensing Agency in 2005 will remove a significant impediment to the construction of digital readings and study packs for taught course provision and enable UCL to move forward in this area with confidence.

The Self-Service Library

18.  Library Services will continue to expand the concept of the 'Self-Service' Library within the UCL family of libraries to allow users the greatest flexibility in the way they interact with information resources and library professionals. New services will be introduced to support this form of outreach.


19.  Conservation of paper materials is fundamental to the ability of the Library to deliver taught course support to students.

20.  In this context, Library Services will review its expenditure on this budget head and draw up an explicit Conservation Strategy for paper materials, to guide its spending and priorities.

Special Collections

21.  Library Services holds rare books, manuscripts and archives of enormous academic value, which are comparatively little-used by academic departments in their teaching.

22.  Library Services will draw up an explicit Strategy for embedding Special Collections materials in taught courses in UCL.

23.  The Library will also review its own arrangements for maximizing synergies between Special Collections and Subject/Site Librarians within Library Services.

Objective 2: Research Support

24.  Library Services is committed to supporting UCL's research activities as a university of global significance in terms of its research outputs and partnerships.

25.  In terms of Science, Technology and Medicine, provision will be made by UCL and will usually be in e-formats.

26.  For Arts, Humanities and some Social Sciences, UCL looks to other libraries in London to enhance its own provision, particularly the libraries of the University of London Research Library Services and the British Library. In the University of London , this will build on the strong academic links between UCL's academic departments and the Institutes of the School of Advanced Study .

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Cataloguing Operations

27.  Library Services will continue to contribute its records to COPAC (see http://www.copac.ac.uk ), which will form the hub of a national Union Catalogue of Books, to Union List of Serials for the University of London (see http://www.inform25.ac.uk/ULS/ ) and to the new SUNCAT, the national Union Listing of Serials. Records in UCL's local catalogue eUCLid will continue to be available as part of the regional Inform25 (see http://www.inform25.ac.uk/ ) distributed catalogue. In this way, Library Services will heighten UCL's profile in regional, national and international contexts.

28.  In terms of eUCLid , Library Services will introduce Authority Control into its public catalogue, to enable researchers to locate materials more easily.

29.  The Library will also undertake a study on introducing script-based cataloguing into eUCLid for non-Roman scripts, thus supporting UCL's international outreach to researchers across the globe.

30.  The Library will build on the revision of its Strategy for The Catalogue of the Future (see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/retro.shtml ) and identify funding to retrospectively convert card catalogue records outside eUCLid into machine-readable form.

Collection Management

31.  In terms of its collecting activities, the research strengths of UCL Library Services are laid down in the Collection Management policy (see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/cmp.shtml ).

32.  In the context of the Research Libraries Network, Library Services will continue to develop agreements in Collaborative Collection Management with libraries who hold cognate collections in identified subject areas, or with the British Library as the UK 's national library.

33.  UCL's custodianship of such collections is a significant attraction for overseas researchers and academics to use Library Services and to initiate a longer-term relationship with the institution.

34.  Such collaborative agreements will only be made where the interests of UCL's researchers are served in this way.

35.  Much of this development work will be through collaborative projects, on a regional, national and international basis.

Archiving responsibilities

36.  In the context of both the RLN, the developing role of the British Library in the legal deposit of e-materials under copyright, and commercial providers, Library Services must examine its role as a paper and electronic archive.

37.  The Library's Store at Wickford has expansion space for 6 more years' worth of growth of paper materials, after which it will be full.

38.  It is unlikely that funding for further storage space at Wickford will be found by UCL.

39.  The problem of lack of storage space is not unique to UCL. Indeed, it is common to all research libraries in the United Kingdom .

40.  As an urgent priority, research libraries and the British Library are working together to identify future responsibilities for archiving e- and paper products. In the former case, this work is being undertaken in collaboration with the JISC's Journals Working Group.

41.  Such work will be collaborative and project based.

42.  It is imperative that UCL identifies a longer-term solution to its storage problems in the next three years, to allow time for plans to be implemented before the Wickford Store is full.

43.  Such solutions as are identified will not come without costs, which must be factored into the Library's future budget round each year.


44.  Library Services will digitize discrete collections of its materials to support research and will bid to external funders to achieve this end.

45.  Given the growing offerings from commercial providers, digitisation of rare or unique materials held locally will be the priority for such work in UCL . especially if they are of importance to research or to the university's public image.

Special Collections

46.  The collections of rare books, manuscripts and archives are under-used as a research resource in UCL.

47.  Library Services will seek to embed use of the materials in research provision through the compilation of a Strategy to address this need.

48.  The Library will also review its own arrangements for maximizing synergies between Special Collections and Subject/Site Librarians within Library Services.


49.  A Preservation Policy has been compiled by Library Services which outlines the context in which preservation activities are undertaken by the Library.

50.  The Library will develop and publish an explicit Strategy for Preservation, showing how the aims and objectives of the policy will be implemented.


51.  Library Services is leading pan-London developments through its leadership of the SHERPA-LEAP consortium (London E-Prints Access Project), testing alternative forms of dissemination for research output.

52.  The E-Print repository at http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk is a showcase for UCL's research, both nationally and internationally.

53.  Future development work on E-prints will seek to align this work with UCL's Research Publications database and its institutional RAE activity.

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Objective 3: Supporting the Student Experience

54.  Changes in the UK Higher Education environment have led to an increased emphasis on the quality of the student experience. This is important as it is a major driver in students developing a lifelong relationship with UCL. Library Services must seek to enhance and add value to such an experience.

55.  There is an urgent need to refurbish significant parts of the Library's estate and the Library will revise its Estates Strategy (see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/estates_strat.shtml ) to accomplish this.

56.  The creation of the Panopticon, a new building for SSEES and an enlarged building for the Faculty of the Built Environment, to include library space, represents important opportunities to improve the physical environment for learning and teaching in UCL.

57.  The refurbishment of the Main Library in the Wilkins Building and the Science Library in the DMS Watson Building are urgent priorities, since both buildings are unsuitable in their present form for the delivery of twenty-first century information services.

58.  The Library will seek to build on improvements to the ground floor of the Science Library by looking for extra space once the Petrie Museum has moved to the Panopticon.

59.  Phase 1 of the refurbishment of the library spaces in the Wilkins Building is already underway.

60.  The Library must look to gain further space for its collections and services in the main quadrangle.

61.  The complete refurbishment of the Main Library is a major plank of The Campaign for UCL and is a priority in terms of fundraising with the Development and Corporate Communications Office.

Information Skills training

62.  Library Services has taken a lead in UCL in using the VLE to deliver Information Skills training to UCL students.

63.  In the Medical School , such training by the Library is embedded as part of the curriculum . a first for any UK Medical School curriculum.

64.  The Library's outreach in this area will continue and the Library will produce a costed Strategy for extending such programmes to all academic Departments in UCL.

Student recruitment

65.  Through the excellence of its research collections and public services, Library Services can help attract overseas students to UCL as a place to study.

66.  Library Services will continue to advertise its strengths in these areas through its own publicity materials and through UCL's recruitment literature.

The changing profile of student recruitment

67.  As UCL extends its recruitment of students at postgraduate level, Library Services should be represented in fora where such decisions are made.

68.  An increase in the number of taught postgraduates, or in students undertaking part-time study, will have a dramatic effect on the nature of library provision, from the numbers and range of core texts purchased to the services which the Library must offer to support such students. Library Services will work in partnership with academic Departments to align its provision with the changing profile of student recruitment.

69.  Library Services has amongst its staff library professionals with an impressive range of language skills. Such skills can be utilised by UCL as it recruits students and should increasingly be utilised once students are in UCL for their course of study.

Opening Hours

70.  To enhance the student experience, Library Services will work with the Students Union to understand the needs of all students for extended opening hours.

71.  Bids will be made to UCL for funding to extend library opening hours, noting developments in other London universities where such extended hours are already available.

Objective 4: E-Strategy

72.  Library Services has one of the best-developed electronic libraries in any UK university. Given the dispersed nature of UCL's academic provision, e-delivery is often the best way to support learning, teaching and research.

73.  Building on this success, the Library will develop an e-Strategy to underpin the whole of its operations in the digital environment.

74.  The Library's ability to deliver electronic services depends on the provision of a robust computing infrastructure. Working with the Information Strategy Committee, Information Systems and Media Resources, the Library will lobby UCL to devote more resource to the development of a modern, sustainable infrastructure for all UCL staff and students.

75.  The Library will work with the Information Strategy Committee (see http://www.ucl.ac.uk/eisd/strategy/ for UCL's Information Strategy) to align the development of portals with existing tools to support learning, teaching and research across UCL.

76.  A major part of the Library's new E-Strategy will be to identify to what extent Library Services can dispense with paper and rely on electronic delivery only to support staff and students. In a large measure, this is bound up with discussion on the future role of UCL Library Services as an archive (see paras. 36-43).

77.  The E-Strategy will explicitly address the feasibility of the digital archiving of publications and the costs of doing so. It will also seek to identify responsibilities for such archiving, which will often be on a national or international basis.

78.  The production of management information to support service delivery is an area which Library Services needs to develop. Management Information software will be purchased from Ex Libris, the supplier of the Library's library management system.

79.  A robust framework will be developed for identifying management information needs in the Library to support the Library Strategy and the Library's Operational Plan.

Objective 5: Widening Participation

80.  Library Services has an important role to play in supporting UCL's Strategy for Widening Participation.

81.  The location of Special Collections in the Panopticon will provide a prominent place for this library department to engage with visitors to the building, and to engage in outreach activities to Schools.

82.  Reader Services will also continue to develop outreach activity to visitors to UCL Library Services.

83.  Library Services will seek full membership of all UCL committees which deal with Widening Participation.

84.  The Library will produce a costed Strategy for its Widening Participation activities, which will be aligned with UCL's institutional work in this area.

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Objective 6: Fundraising activities

85.  The Library's work on fundraising activities will be channelled through its new Fundraising Committee, which represents a partnership between the Library and the Development and Corporate Communications Office.

86.  A Strategy to set the aims and objectives of its fundraising activities will be prepared and signed off by the Fundraising and Library Committees.

87.  Fundraising is not an end in itself, but the objectives of the Library's fundraising work should be dictated by its overall strategic aims and objectives identified in the Library Strategy.

88.  The same is true of project bids which the Library regularly makes to external funding rounds.

89.  The Library's principal activity in this area will be to support an enhanced student experience through the complete refurbishment of library spaces in the Wilkins building.

Objective 7: Partnerships

90.  In the changing Higher Education environment in the UK , it is impossible for Library Services to deliver its Mission alone. A key factor in the Library being able to deliver its Library Strategy and Operational Plan will be its ability to develop partnerships with libraries and library organisations around the world.

91.  The Library's key external partnerships are identified at http://www.ucl.ac.uk/library/partners.shtml . These partnerships will be reviewed by Library Services to ensure that they are linked to the objectives of the Library Strategy.

92.  Within UCL, Library Services will continue to develop its partnerships with academic Departments, principally through its subject librarianship structure, which UCL pioneered in introducing into the UK in the 1930s.

93.  In terms of support services, Library Services will further develop partnership working with the departments in the Education and Information Support Division. Regular termly meetings with EISD and the Directors of each department will be held. A principal purpose of such meetings will be to identify opportunities for joint research and development to help UCL deliver on its key institutional objectives.

94.  Within the region, Library Services will continue to work with the National Health Service as an equal partner. All UCL's medical/health science libraries are joint HE/NHS libraries. Library Services will encapsulate its partnership working with the NHS through the signing of a Service Level Agreement between UCL and the NHS.

95.  New partnerships will be developed between Library Services and publishers/library suppliers. The aim of such partnerships will be to identify opportunities for research and development which will help Library Services deliver its Library Strategy and Operational Plan.

Objective 8: The Library's national and international profile

96.  The development of the Library's national and international profile must be securely linked to the Library Strategy and its Operational Plan.

97.  The Library has an important role to play in supporting UCL's International Strategy through helping to raise the profile of UCL as a global university.

98.  In terms of partnerships, CURL (the Consortium of Research Libraries; see http://www.curl.ac.uk/ ) the global Research Libraries Group (RLG; see http://www.rlg.org/ ) and LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche; see http://www.kb.dk/guests/intl/liber/ ) are of importance in this respect.

99.  The Library participates actively in the annual Fiesole meetings of librarians and publishers, which seek to identify partnerships to meet the needs of learners and researchers.

100.  The ICOLC meetings (International Consortia Of Library Consortia; see http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/ ) are increasingly important as a means whereby UCL Library Services can actively engage with publishers over the escalating cost of book and journal provision, and the growing number of alternative means of publication and dissemination.

101.  Special Collections within the Library will seek Designation status for the collections which it houses. Designation requires a strategic vision which will enable the Library  to reach the highest standards of care and promotion for its holdings, underlining the national importance of UCL's collections for research, learning and teaching.

102.  Library Services will benchmark itself against key global universities, in line with UCL's International Strategy, in order to develop its stock and services.

Objective 9: Continuing Professional Development

103.  Through past work, Library Services considers itself to be a training-led organisation by virtue of the emphasis it places of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

104.  In the electronic environment, UCL Library Services must continue to skill and re-skill its staff to enable library colleagues to act with confidence in the new digital world.

105.  The Library's CPD Strategy (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/libnet/structure/policies/staff/ on the Library's Intranet) will be revised and regular Training Needs Analyses on behalf of library staff will be performed.

106.  The present structures for supporting CPD, through the Library Services Staff Development Group, will be reviewed.

107.  UCL's annual Staff Review process will continue to be used by the Library as a means to identify skills and competencies within the Library and to articulate individuals' training needs.

108.  The Library will investigate Investors In People (IIP) as a charter mark for the excellence of its staff training activities.

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Objective 10: Planning, Resourcing and Communication

109.  It is important that Library Services has input into the development of all major UCL strategies and policies. The Library has a presence on every UCL site where there is academic activity.

110.  All planning in Library Services will henceforth be 'joined up'. There will be three distinct, but interlinked, levels of strategy and planning:

  • the Library Strategy, which will be reviewed every three years
  • the Library's Operational Plan, which will develop annually to deliver the objectives of the Library Strategy
  • Library Group Operational Plans, which will develop annually to deliver the Library's annual Operational Plan

111.  It is vital that all members of Library staff have input into all three level of planning.

112.  Similarly, it is important that Departmental and Faculty Library Committees have an opportunity to have input into this tripartite strategic and planning process.

113.  Henceforth, all developments need to be costed and resources assessed before change can be implemented.

114.  At each level of the tripartite planning structure, there need to be SMART targets against which progress can be measured.

115.  The Library will re-institute an annual Report to Library Committee, and so to UCL, where its progress against the objectives of the Library Strategy and its Operational Plan will be measured.

Impact Analysis
To be inserted. Following ratification of the Library Strategy by Library Committee in 3rd Term 2005, the Library will provide an Impact Analysis, showing which individuals/ Groups/Committees are of importance in delivering the Library Strategy, and how their work will be affected by its objectives.

Success Criteria
To be inserted.

Risk Analysis
To be inserted

Appendix 1: Library Services' Operational Plan

The Library's Annual Operational Plan
To be inserted. This Plan will change annually as the Library moves to meet the objectives set down in the Library Strategy. Groups' annual Work Plans will be aligned with the Library's annual Operational Plan and the Library Strategy.

The Operational Plan will be inserted following ratification of the Library Strategy by Library Committee in 3rd Term 2005. It will contain SMART targets and performance will be measured against targets.

Appendix 2: Road Map for completion of the process of revision of the Library Strategy

Action Description When? By Whom?
1 Presentation to Library staff at Current Awareness session First Term 2004 PA
2 Present paper to Library Committee First Term 2004 PA
3 Ask each SMT member to discuss Library Strategy with their Group and to report back to PA By Xmas 2004 SMT
4 Discuss format for Library Strategy with Chair of Library Committee By Xmas 2004 PA
5 Issue first draft of revised Strategy By January 2005 PA
6 Discuss Strategy with Champions: EISD By Easter 2005 PA
7 Discuss Strategy with Academic Committee Spring Term 2005 PA
8 Discuss Strategy with Champions: Graduate School By Easter 2005 EAC
9 Discuss Strategy with Champions: Union Sabbaticals By Easter 2005 JP
10 Discuss Strategy with Faculty Library Committees By mid-May 2005 Subject Team Leaders
11 Discuss Strategy with Library Groups By mid-May 2005 All SMT members
12 Prepare revised Strategy in light of consultations for Library Committee End of May 2005 PA
13 Library Strategy ratified by Library Committee Third Term 2005 PA/EAC
14 Provide Operational Plan for 2005-06 as an Appendix to the Library Strategy 1st SMT of Oct. 05 EAC/JP and SMT
15 Provide Impact Analysis for Library Strategy Summer 2005 PA

Rev. 08/3/05

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Last modified 9 March 2005

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