Thursday, 24 November 2016

Knowing what you think

Joanne Casey explains why your thoughts matter to us, and reports on changes made in response to feedback.

We are a customer-focused service, and we work hard to ensure that what we offer - in the Library, IT Services, or the Archives - meets your needs. So getting feedback from you, whether it's positive, negative, or a request for a new service, is important to us. It helps us to find out more about what you want and to identify how we can make improvements to our services.

How we gather feedback

We collect your feedback in a variety of ways; by email, in person, on comment cards, via Facebook and Twitter, or on the new comments board at the Library entrance. We respond directly to any comments that are submitted with contact details, but we also bring all the feedback together in a monthly report, reviewed by managers, and decide how we can act on it.

The well-used Library comments board

What happens next?

We look at what you tell us, we discuss whether improvements are possible, and we respond.

If we can change in response to feedback, we will...

In the past year, we have:

  • Adjusted loan limits, so that you can now borrow up to 75 items at a time (previously 50 items)
  • Increased the initial loan period from four weeks to eight weeks
  • Edited the wording on the renewal screen in My Library account to make the renewal process for interlending items clearer
  • Begun providing IT support in the evenings and at weekends, and introduced an appointments system for more complex IT queries
  • Increased student spaces in the Library buildings, by opening up former staff offices and the old IT Support Office for student use, as well as opening up the meeting rooms on the second floor of Fairhurst to be used as study spaces in the evenings and at weekends. Over the coming year, it’s likely that other staff will move out of the Fairhurst and these spaces will also become available for study use.

...but sometimes we have to say no

The answer to your comments won't always be 'yes', but if it is 'no', we'll explain why.

For example, we've had a few requests for a microwave in the Library. There are lots of reasons why we can't provide this; the lack of a suitable space, problems with keeping it clean (it's not the responsibility of University cleaners to clean kitchen equipment), and cost (a standard domestic microwave wouldn't be a suitable choice). However, we've passed on this feedback to the University, and there's now a discussion underway about allowing students who live off-campus to access College kitchens.

We've also had lots of feedback about our turnstiles, and we know that several of you don't enjoy having to scan your cards to leave the Library. However, the information that we collect on use of the Library - how long people spend here, which departments or student groups are using the Library most, when people are most likely to come in - is really valuable to us in identifying how we need to develop our services (rest assured, we don’t retain any personal data from the turnstiles). So, whilst we understand how you feel, this isn't something that we plan to change.

The positives

We get lots of good feedback, about our staff and about our services. This matters to us, because it shows what we're getting right. We always make sure that these comments are shared both to managers and teams, so that our colleagues know that they're making a difference. Recent highlights include:

  • Thanks as ever for the super speedy response! 1
  • Thank you for the years of endless support #uoygraduation 2
  • A huge thank you to @UoYITServices who have been brilliant helping with our move. Great team!
  • Exceeded expectations, teaching was excellent and fun 3
  • Brilliant library and very helpful staff. I just love wandering around exploring the books and journals on the shelves. A great atmosphere for learning.
Thank you all, and keep telling us what you think!

More information

Who the compliments were for, where not stated.
  1. Library Twitter feed
  2. Library
  3. Borthwick Institute for Archives
Find us on Twitter:

Friday, 11 November 2016

Improving the Electronic Texts Service

Ben Catt explains how the introduction of the CLA Digital Content Store has led to enhancements to the Electronic Texts Service.

One of the many ways in which the Library can provide students with easy access to essential reading is through the Electronic Texts Service. If a book or journal is only available in print then teaching staff can request a digitised version of a key chapter or article for their resource lists. This is useful for both campus-based and distance learning students, especially for large courses where print availability is limited to one or two copies. Requests are easy to submit through our reading list software EARL (the deadline for Spring Term resource lists is Monday 21 November) and the Library produces over 2,000 scans each year. Our scans are high resolution and use optical character recognition for improved accessibility.

The process behind this service has been improved for the 2016/17 academic year thanks to the introduction of the Digital Content Store, a platform developed by the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) to help the Library streamline resource list digitisation workflows. Copying extent limits have also been increased from 5% to 10% per publication for each module (or one chapter/article, whichever is greater). This will provide the Library with greater flexibility to fulfil requests whilst complying with the CLA's Higher Education scanning licence.

Another major benefit of the DCS is that the Library can share digitised content with other participating Universities (currently 60 institutions across the UK) provided that they own or subscribe to the title, to save duplication of scanning. It also integrates the Enhanced Higher Education Supply Service (EHESS), offered by the CLA and British Library for supplying copyright-compliant, digitised content where we do not have an original print copy in our collections (or if the items are on loan, in-use or missing). The DCS also aligns with processes involved in the Library's new permissions clearance pilot service, whereby we can contact publishers directly to request digitisation permission if a title is excluded from the CLA licence. This will significantly increase the scope of digitised publications the Library is able to provide for course reading.

On the surface, the process for staff to submit digitisation requests remains unchanged. However, behind the scenes the DCS can automate a range of Library processes such as ownership verification, licence compliance checking, and annual reporting tasks. The DCS is integrated with the Library's resource management system (Ex Libris Alma), containing the data behind our collections which displays in YorSearch. This streamlined, cohesive approach will increase the responsiveness of the services the Library can offer, in keeping with our principles of providing efficient access to resources in high demand.

We welcome any feedback from staff and students on the DCS (or the Electronic Texts Service in general):

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Battle of the Somme: part 2

Our understanding of the First World War has been shaped by the numerous artists, poets, writers and composers who recorded their experiences of the fighting. In the second of two posts, Ilka Heale highlights some of the men who fought in the Battle of the Somme (1st July - 19th November 1916).

Image of Robert Graves: [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Poet and novelist, Robert Graves (1895-1985) is probably best known for the I, Claudius novels. In the First World War he fought alongside another war poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967).

During the Battle of the Somme, Graves was struck by an exploding shell a few days before his 21st birthday leaving him so badly injured that he was reported dead by his commanding officer. However, by the time his obituary appeared in the British press, Graves had miraculously recovered. He was soon well enough to return to the front a few months later. Surviving the war, he went on to live until the age of 90.

William Noel Hodgson (1893-1916) was also a poet. Known as 'Smiler' to his friends due to his sunny disposition, he volunteered on the outbreak of the war in 1914. This poem Before Action was written in the weeks leading up to the Battle of the Somme. His battalion was ordered to advance across the downward slope of a hill, in full view of German trenches on three sides. They knew how slender their chances were. On 1 July 1916, Hodgson was killed in the opening minutes of the advance.
Taken from William Noel Hodgson: the gentle poet by Jack Medomsley.
Seen as a plea for courage in the face of death, this poem was originally published on 29 June 1916 in the weekly paper The New Witness. Hodgson died two days later. Hodgson's posthumous volume Verse and Prose in Peace and War, published in 1917, was so popular it ran into three editions.

John Buchan (1875-1940) was the author of the Thirty-nine steps, one of the most famous and influential adventure stories of the 20th century. During the First World War, Buchan worked at the War and Foreign Offices and was appointed Director of Information making a major contribution with the innovative use of propaganda. Published in 1916, Buchan wrote The Battle of the Somme, First Phase claiming that the battle was so successful that it marked the end of trench warfare. However he failed to inform his readers that of the 110,000 British soldiers who fought in the Battle, over 57,000 became casualties and 20,000 were killed on the first day of fighting.

Starting in 1914, Buchan also wrote the extensive Nelson's 'History of the war' published as a monthly magazine. This book, published in 1917, was intended to be a companion to the monthly volumes of 'History of the war' as it contained sketch maps illustrating the battles.

Herbert Ward (1863-1919) was a British sculptor, illustrator, writer and explorer. As Ward was too old to enlist in the army, he served with the British Ambulance Committee. Wounded at the front and mentioned in dispatches in 1915, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre for his work removing wounded soldiers whilst under bombardment. He died, partly as a result of his injuries, in August 1919.

Image from Mr Poilu by Herbert Ward
Mr. Poilu: notes and sketches with the fighting French was published in December 1916 as a tribute to the French as worthy allies. As described by Ward in chapter 1, Poilu was a nickname given to French soldiers. The illustrations, chiefly monochrome, depict not victory but land despoiled and soldiers standing alone, their faces all aged by a war which must inescapably be fought despite the losses already incurred.

British Composer George Butterworth (1885-1916) was best known for The Banks of Green Willow and his musical settings for the poems of A.E Housman.

Written in 1913, The Banks of Green Willow is a short pastoral idyll. It has become almost a symbol of that long-lost halcyon Edwardian age, as if Butterworth were transcribing the disappearing world around him.
 Butterworth had joined up at the outbreak of war and during the Battle of the Somme was awarded the Military Cross for capturing a series of trenches near Pozières. On 4th August 1916, his unit was ordered to attack a communications trench and despite successfully capturing it, he was shot by a German sniper and died on 5th August.

There is an exhibition of items from the University Library's collections on the ground floor of the Fairhurst Building. To find material on First World War, search YorSearch, our Library catalogue.

The photographs of the books in the University Library's collections were taken by the University photographer, Paul Shields.