Library Services


5 things you never knew about Library Services

7 October 2021

Celebrating the innovative services which UCL have developed to support our users, as part of this year’s Libraries Week.

Study area the Student Centre

Libraries Week is an annual showcase and celebration of the best that libraries have to offer. Organised by CILIP: The library and information association, this year it celebrates how libraries take action and change lives.

UCL Library Services is at the heart of providing the information to support the university’s academic excellence and research that addresses real-world problems. As well as providing outstanding services, resources and spaces we support initiatives that have had an impact at UCL and beyond.

1. Supporting our users

We're committed to providing high-quality customer service delivered in partnership with our users. We were the first team at UCL to gain Customer Service Excellence accreditation, which we built on last year.

We can also claim to be the busiest university library service in the country. In the 2019-20 academic year, we had over 3 million visits across all our library sites topping other universities.

We remained open during the pandemic from June 2020 with safety restrictions in place to keep our users and staff safe. We had 440,376 bookings to our library sites last year.

During the pandemic, we substantially increased the number of e-books that you can use anywhere 24/7 and provided new online resources to support students studying away from campus.

2. Championing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Library Services is community-minded, inclusive and innovative. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion is an imperative part of everything we do.

Library staff were recognised for their work to support EDI at UCL with two awards at the UCL Inclusion Awards 2021. Noel Caliste, Executive Assistant to the Pro-Vice-Provost, won the Staff Equality Network Member of the Year Award as Chair of the LGBTQ+ Equality Steering Group and Out@UCL. The Library EDI Committee won the Sarah Guise award for Catalyst for Change for creating a newsletter, which gives colleagues the opportunity to educate themselves.

3. Supporting sustainability in our libraries

We are dedicated to supporting sustainability and making our services as sustainable as possible. In the most recent Sustainability awards, we gained 17 Green Impact awards across all our library sites.

Student Centre

In addition to this, the Student Centre was built to the highest levels of sustainability, achieving a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) ‘Outstanding’ rating which reflects exceptional environmental, social and economic sustainability performance. It has won several prizes including the Civic Trust Award in 2020 in recognition of its intelligent design and most recently the 'Special prize Interior' for campuses in the prestigious Prix Versailles world architecture award and a RIBA London award in August 2021.

4. Working with local communities to record and share heritage

The Special Collections outreach team supports the work of schools and community organisations in our local communities. In May they supported 11 young people from East London to set up an exhibition and give a series of online talks exploring food and food production in the area as part of Newham Heritage Month. The project empowered the young people to work in the Culture sector.

Three participants stand in front of The New Curators’ exhibition in East Ham Library.

5. Championing innovative new approaches to research

The UCL Office for Open Science and Scholarship supports the UCL community in the adoption of Open practices and approaches. These can radically change how we approach ‘science’ and research and have massive real world impact by making research more transparent and accessible by other researchers and members of the public. The Office regularly organises events, including Open Access Week which this year begins 25 October.

We also launched UCL Press, the World’s first Open Access University Press. Since 2017, they have published over 200 books which have been downloaded 5 million times across the entire world, from Antarctica to Zambia.