Transforming the Library through student-led change

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“The library has … been incredible during my study because it holds so many relevant sources for my course. It is a comfortable environment where you can get your work done.”

A listening Library

“Staff listen well to feedback and act upon it”

Every year we learn what matters most to you from your suggestions and comments and this continues to help us develop a library service that supports you better to learn in the ways you want to work. We support the ways you naturally work to achieve everything you want more easily and comfortably. Over the last two years we have transformed the way we work and worked with our students to re-imagine the ground floor and revolutionise the ways we deliver our core services.

Designed around you

“The library has improved [in] the past three years and has developed for further facilities. I can now enter the library without worrying about finding a seat as it has been expanded so well.”

Your new library is designed around the way you showed us you want to work. Rigid arrangements of desks have given way to flexible, movable furniture connected to power and data with 350 loanable full-size laptops. High shelves have given way to a light, airy space with clear views out onto leafy Ravelin Park and the pleasant courtyard garden.

Now one connected space with a café at its heart, everything you need is within easy reach. We have found space for more study spaces every year to keep up with the increasing demand, installed drop-in meeting pods and gave up our old meeting room and offices to give you more sound proofed spaces free from distractions, which you told us were your favourite single new feature of the ground floor refurbishment last summer. With everything you need for a day’s learning all in one place, you need only leave when you want a change of scene or a break.

Giving you what you want

“The reading lists provided are all extremely useful and link well to the units. Most of the reading is also available online so it saves you going to the library which is very convenient.”

You want to spend your time learning, not searching, and so we have worked closely with your lecturers to offer online reading lists for more than 70% of units, an increase of approximately 14% since last year. You told us last year that while library resources were good, you sometimes found it difficult to get all the books you needed to read. Rolling out online reading lists allows us both to take you straight to what your lecturers recommend from a single click and make sure we have enough of the books you want.

We also provide electronic copies you can read anywhere over the internet, even after the last printed book has been borrowed. We have also made it possible for you to request books, and scanned copies of book chapters and journal articles from other libraries simply by completing a short online form.

Streamlining services

“The Discovery Service is a unique treasure, much better than Google Scholar.”

We saw that you wanted to work flexibly and read wherever you were. We have continued to scan book chapters and articles apace, and improving the Discovery Service to make it easier to find, read and reference everything we have as quickly as possible. For those obscure works we do not have in our collections, we can now offer articles and book chapters from other libraries delivered to your email inbox within days of completing a simple online form

Relieving the pressure

We understand that student life can be hectic and you have many important things to think about, and so we decided that renewing your library books should not be one of them. Books you borrow from us now all renew automatically where possible. Fines from when you forget to renew your books on time are now a thing of the past, unless someone else reserves them so they can read them as well!

When you have a problem you want an instant solution and so we brought our IT and Library experts together at the single Shared Services Desk to offer help for everything in the same place. We have also trained our staff to help you better, provided a dedicated telephone service and extended the hours our online chat service operates and continue to offer dedicated subject support here in the Library.

We realise that informal support available whenever you need it is valuable. Many of you told us that you found referencing confusing, and so we are offering dedicated referencing drop-in clinics this term to help you get on the right track.

Delivering more than ever before

“The facilities the university boasts, not least the library and the vast array of resources it possesses, are very impressive and have helped me to perform to the best of my ability.”

What did our students like best last year? – “The resources within the library.” Since then we have bought a huge number of e-books – we now have over half a million. We have updated our printed book collections so every Library book you find is up-to-date and relevant, replacing old with new and we have scanned many more book chapters and other items so what we have goes much further.

With even better support

“All the staff in the library are extremely helpful.”

Every year you tell us how much you like the service you receive from our staff. We were very pleased to hear you say that “the staff (both lecturers, support and library staff) at Portsmouth are fantastic and incredibly supportive,” and that, “the library staff are particularly helpful”. We are continuing to train and develop our staff to deliver an even better and more efficient service than ever before. Just this year we developed the Introducing… web pages to make it easier and more fun to explore the services and facilities we offer. If you need specialist help, there is always a subject expert you can contact, and even a free telephone from which to call them.

Thank you for helping us re-imagine the Library

You told us last year in the National Student Survey that what we offer has “definitely improved… the Library computer suite is an example of this,” and we have increased the number of study spaces and networked computers each year but it was obvious that we needed many more study spaces and computers as more of you wanted to study here. You also told us that the Library was sometimes too hot in summer. We listened, we understood, we acted.

You helped us re-imagine the Library, telling us what you would like from your new social learning space. Not that we have finished yet. We installed new water fountains on both the ground and top floors to support you as you study for longer and we have many more improvements planned for the near future.

Thank you for being patient as we created our social learning space. We are delighted how much you liked the result! We have been filled to capacity three times since we re-opened the ground floor and are thrilled to be busier than ever. At this rate, we will soon need a bigger building!

Cool, clear and clean

“My biggest problem with the University was the lack of study space in the Library but this… has been resolved [by] the refurbishment.”

A powerful new air conditioning system has been introduced that has allowed us to cool the spaces you told us were often too hot in summer and offer a choice of spaces at different temperatures so you can work in whatever environment suits you best.

You told us you were bothered by distractions, such as people talking and eating near you, while many of you clearly enjoyed working over food with the energising buzz of social learning.

We simplified the zoning system this year to offer a quiet haven for individual silent study without distractions across the entire top floor – easy to find and clearly distinct from the social learning space below.

Thank you for helping us take such good care of your colleagues and your workspace. Following concerns you expressed last year, we employ professional cleaning staff for longer than ever before to help keep our busy library a truly pleasant place to work.

More space

We observed that you clearly needed more spaces dedicated to group study, and so we moved out of our offices, opened up the Meetings Room, and installed the popular drop-in meeting pods on the ground floor, more than doubling the number of enclosed group study spaces.

Open for Longer

“24/7 IT and library facilities are…extremely helpful and convenient”

We have never seen so many students working so hard, and we have also worked hard to support you. You have told us every year that you really appreciate the Library opening 24/7. In response, we trialled an even longer extension to 24/7 and opened for longer over the Christmas vacation to allow you to study wherever suits you best until your examinations end.

It is easy to get carried away during 24/7 Library opening, so we are once again working with the Students’ Union and Student Welfare to help you to make sensible choices, work sustainably, stay healthy, and look after yourself and your friends so that you get the most from your time at University. 

Empowering you to help yourselves

Saving you money and helping you to make the most of what you have is important to us, which is why we expanded the book swapping Book Nook and continue to offer book swap/sale noticeboards in the Library and on our website, helping you make the most of what you and your fellow students already own. This year we also introduced a system where you could choose the e-books you wanted us to buy simply by choosing and reading them from a vast online library rather than us buying everything we hoped you might want in advance.

In touch more often

We introduced more plasma screens across the Library to communicate with you better as well as the Library blog and calendar, available through our website, that deliver expert help and advice for problems you tell us about and let you know what is happening.  Our new Instagram feed offers light relief and shares moments of joy from our beautiful campus.