Welcome to this year’s annual report from Library, Culture, Collections and Open Science (LCCOS).
It has been a truly exciting year to lead LCCOS, a grouping that unites UCL’s world leading museum, library and archive collections, spaces including the Student Centre, the Bloomsbury Theatre, and the Object Based Learning Laboratory, as well as 21 library sites and museums. It is the home of the Office for Open Science and Scholarship, and a key partner in the UCL Research Institute for Collections. We have brought together expert teams supporting UCL’s research, academic excellence and engagement activities.
Last year, we saw substantial achievements at a time when student numbers were higher than ever. In 2022-23, UCL was home to a total of 51,058 students, of which 25,121 were undergraduates, 19,745 were postgraduate taught students and 6,192 were postgraduate research students.
The 2023 National Student Survey (NSS) saw 92.1% of final year students respond positively to how well library resources had supported their learning; and 89.6% were positive about the availability of subject-specific resources. The results are impressive, not just in terms of the scores for UCL (where they are leading), but across the sector (where they are upper quartile for the Russell Group and very nearly top). This is a huge individual and team achievement, and more importantly shows that the students we serve almost uniformly rate our services incredibly highly.
We are delighted to report that LCCOS has received the result of our CSE Surveillance Visit for this year – we were again judged to be fully meeting the standard set for all 57 criteria of the Customer Service Excellence Accreditation, and this year obtained Compliance Plus in 24 criteria, up from 20 last year. This year’s meeting took place online, and as well as receiving a substantial written submission, our Assessor was also given presentations on UCL East, Special Collections at UCL East, and Customer Feedback & Service Improvement. This is an outstanding result and is testament to the hard work that all members of staff put into maintaining our high standards of customer service within LCCOS.
LCCOS teams made submissions as part of UCL’s Green Impact, a UCL-wide accreditation scheme devised by the education charity Students Organising for Sustainability UK. It is a scheme that has won awards from UNESCO and the charity has now worked with nearly 2,000 institutions. The excellence of our LCCOS teams was recognised with 10 Golds, four Silvers and four Bronzes.
Colleagues across LCCOS provide support for UCL’s education mission via various approaches. These range from using our collections and expertise to offer teaching and engagement opportunities as part of taught programmes to expand student’s understanding and enhance their learning experience, to delivering and developing skills that will benefit students during their time at UCL and throughout their lives. So I was very pleased to see the work of colleagues recognised in the Provost’s Education Awards. Dr Andrea Fredericksen, Curator, UCL Art Collections won an award in the Category of Openness and Inclusion and the Special Collections and Library Skills Team were runners up in this same category, while Chris Hoyle, Bloomsbury Theatre Technician, won the award in the category of Student Partnership. We are always keen to work with students and staff to expand our support in this area.
This academic year also saw the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the coronation of the new King, His Majesty King Charles III. In September, the Bloomsbury Theatre held a screening of the Queen’s funeral, so that UCL students could participate in this sad and momentous historical event. During this time, the UCL Drama society performed their long-planned production of King Charles III by Mike Bartlett. It was performed after the Queen’s passing and before the coronation of the new King, and offered a timely and sensitively performed production including a pre-show Q&A with the cast and directors. In May, the UCL Records Office uncovered a copy of the official souvenir programme for the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in May 1937, which they shared via social media. This helped put the recent coronation in context.
We are poised at a moment of great transformation, both for UCL and more widely. We have had an important presence at UCL East over the last year. Our Outreach team continued to engage with schools, creating positive impact in the lives of young people in the area. We also managed library spaces, first in One Pool Street and then, after moving on 4 September, in Marshgate. The UCL East library provides study facilities, a range of services, and access to staff support for students living and studying at UCL’s exciting new campus in east London. The LCCOS team based there have quickly made the library a vital part of the wider UCL East community.
LCCOS has formed an AI Group to identify opportunities and concerns relating to Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the context of our services and support and to help inform relevant guidance on AI, including incorporating this into our existing skills offerings. As you will read, we also have representation on the UCL AI in Education group, and specifically the Academic Skills workstream. LCCOS is also producing guidance on AI and copyright, a tricky area and something that has wider relevance across the sector, as we deal with this new technology.
Six projects in UCL have been awarded funding gained from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under the Capability for Collections stream, including four projects across our museums and libraries, totalling £920,000. This funding will enable state-of-the-art facilities to support the creation of a pan-UCL vision for cultural heritage objects.
2022-23 has been a wonderful year. LCCOS teams are consolidating their activities and producing results of which UCL is truly proud. We look forward to further successes going forward.