Here at the University of Exeter Library, before the introduction of the Digital Content Store, we had a resource list service that was a basic digital replacement for photocopies held in our ‘High Demand’ collection. With help from the DCS, we have gradually developed this to a pivotal service involving all our Grade C library staff delivering integrated, digital, full text scans for our resource lists at module level.
Unlike many other Higher Education institutions Exeter does all the list creation for its academics. This is a highly staff intensive process and we are always trying to smooth the administrative work flow to save time. Along the way we had developed in-house solutions, like many other institutions I am sure, to stitch together different parts of the resource list process from getting and receiving the lists, to delivery. Until the implementation of the DCS, our work flow pattern had developed to look like this:
NIS – Not in Stock
BL – British Library
ELE – Exeter Learning Environment (our VLE - Moodle)
This was a time-consuming process but worked fairly well when we had a small team of three staff whose only work was the creation of lists. There was also a separate small team of staff who did the scans for the lists. Another team within the Library were responsible for book ordering and processing. The list work was overseen by an administrator who was also responsible for the CLA return as Copyright Officer.
During 2015/16, a new head of our Library and a staff re-structuring meant a change of priorities and the introduction of a new way of working. Our new resource list structure is now headed up by an Administrator who oversees the whole service. Working closely with the Administrator is a new post of Taught Course Support Co-ordinator responsible for marketing the service, contacting academics and getting them to send us lists, organising the administration and training staff in the list process.
All of the actual day-to-day creation of resource lists is undertaken by the our 14 Information Assistants. The introduction of matrix management means that they are trained to undertake all aspects of library work, which means they are involved in the full end-to-end process of list creation, involving checking and ordering of not in stock items, requesting items from the British Library via EHESS, scanning items, checking copyright, preparing the lists for putting on the VLE, and communicating with the academics during the whole process.
Our adoption of the DCS in the summer of 2016 was a key element in streamlining our service and worked extremely well with our adoption of matrix management. Overall, the DCS has saved us a huge amount of administrative time.
- We no longer have a “books to scan” list for each resource list.
- The copyright checking is at source and quick.
- We do not have to create coversheets for every scan we do.
- Occasionally there is a scan we can reuse from the store.
- The integrated EHESS service means we have done away with an excel spreadsheet recording these requests and all email communication around them. The system is quick and we can get full reports when we need them.
- The scans are stored at source not on a virtual server space, which had to be maintained by our IT department and to which every member of library staff had to be specially connected.
- We do not have to build special URLs to link to the scans - this is done by the system.
- All our previously used scans are rolled over for use again literally at the click of a button.
- We do not have to create a specific spreadsheet for the CLA return and entry of data on Packtracker to achieve this is not necessary (a massive personal favourite).
Overall, the DCS has helped us to streamline our service and saved considerable administrative time that we can use instead to promote the service. It’s also enabled us to provide a more joined-up service so that Information Assistants can prepare lists, order new stock, request items from the British Library etc. and communicate with the academic without constanting asking other members of staff to do this work for them. It’s actually empowered Information Assistants – they understand how the whole process works, increased the variety of their work and allowed them to work more independently. The feedback from Information Assistants has been very positive. They really enjoy doing resource list work and using the Digital Content Store!
The Digital Content Store has been a huge benefit to our resource list service and we look forward to further developments of the DCS and to the growth of the store as a national digital collection that we can continue to contribute to and use with our peers across HE. We are happy to answer any questions you may have about how the DCS has worked for us or how we have set-up our resource list service. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Authors
Susan Abbott: Currently Digital Library Manager at the University of Exeter (that means I do some library systems work, marketing, website, resource lists, University Copyright Officer and whatever else is needed). Previously I worked at the University of Glamorgan – now the University of South Wales – in various guises and in the dim and distant past I started my library career at Selly Oak Colleges in Birmingham.
Simon Foote: Currently Taught Courses Support Coordinator. Simon has worked for the University of Exeter Library since 2011 initially as a Customer Services Supervisor and then since 2016 as the Taught Courses Support Coordinator helping to promote and administer the resource list service. Arrived at the University of Exeter in 2006 to do a PhD in Archaeology, got a part-time job in the Library and has remained ever since (the PhD was completed)!
Got the writing bug?
Our new website has undergone a number of changes, one of which is the exciting relaunch of our HE sector blogs. Each month will see the release of two blogs - one on general issues that are relevant and important to the HE sector, and one dedicated to the DCS. A key way that we're changing our blogs is to make them more inclusive for the HE community. So while a CLA authored blog will be published each month, we're also looking for external guest writers to contribute the month's other blog. If you are interested in writing for us, either on an issue you feel is important to the HE sector, or on your experiences with the DCS, then please get in touch.