Library Services


UCL LCCOS: Outstanding Customer Service Excellence

11 July 2022

Esther Ambrose-Dempster, a PhD Student in the Chemistry department, celebrates UCL Libraries’ Customer Service Excellence (CSE) reaccreditation.

UCL's Portico and steps

UCL Library Services were the first UCL department to be awarded the government-accredited standard in 2019. Now renamed Library, Culture, Collections & Open Science (LCCOS) as a wider department incorporating the university’s museums, Bloomsbury Theatre and Public Engagement, they have been awarded full compliance across all 57 criteria.  

A total of 240 pieces of evidence built the submission. These included customer engagement and satisfaction, access, staff attitude, the range and quality of information as well as response to problems.  

Catering for nearly 45,000 students across 16 different library sites, achieving full compliance is no mean feat, let alone the additional 20 “compliance plus” elements also awarded. Not only are these reserved for cases when an establishment exceeds the required standard, but it is also double the number of “compliance plus” awards compared with last year. 

Dotted over several sites in central London, physical access takes a great deal of coordination by library staff. And the prevalence of online information in today’s society required a fast paced adaptation of the online services offered. Particular praise was offered for UCL library’s Explore tool – the search page used to find journals, books, and other resources online. Quick response to materials requested was also commended.  

The UCL libraries are truly unique. The longevity of the university, being set up nearly 200 years ago, means the campus has had to expand across Bloomsbury. With beautiful old buildings, the campus accommodates different libraries catering for different subjects (although you can access all of them as a UCL student or staff member). From the grandeur of the Main Library, to the  modern Student Centre, the different libraries of UCL have different characters and serve different purposes, another testament to the vision of LCCOS.  

Specific acclaim is paid by the CSE assessor to the UCL library staff. With an easy feedback form on their website, between the 10 Jan and 31 March 2022, 92% of all webform and email enquiries were responded to within one day. The CSE handbook provides a framework for catering to customers’ needs, resulting in comments from students about how helpful and proactive the staff of the libraries are.  

The last few years have been exceptionally challenging. The libraries have had to adapt their services to provide differently for the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. As part of dealing with these problems, they opened over 500 more socially distanced spaces for their key customer base (UCL students, staff and affiliated NHS staff) and introduced an online booking system to ensure customers could access spaces.  

The reaccreditation is well-deserved and reflects the exceptional services provided by the staff. There is little doubt that in the one-year period until the next review, they will work eagerly to provide a high level of service, respond and act upon feedback as well as innovatively adapting to the ever-changing needs of UCL.