University of London partners with Crown Records Management to protect and preserve their library for years to come


The University of London (UoL) comprises 18 federal member institutions, as well as 9 institutes of the School of Advanced Study. Senate House Library (SHL) is the central library for UoL. SHL has 30,000 student members and more than 300 visitors per day, who access millions of books and journals, digital resources, and beautiful study spaces.

The Challenge

A growth in student numbers, funding pressures and rising student expectations in the face of high tuition fees have threatened to create a perfect storm for the University sector.

Along with many university libraries, SHL is under intense pressure for space. Not least for its ever-growing collection of books, but also to serve the needs of its members who required a quiet place to study, and collaborate in new ways.

The Solution

UoL realised it needed a third-party to house parts of its collection, but near enough for quick and easy access when demanded. A key objective was not reduce the level of service they currently provided to students whilst maintaining the integrity of the books – some of them priceless.

Crown worked closely Nick Barratt, Director, Senate House Library to find the perfect solution for cataloguing – acid paper book marks and foil backed barcodes were introduced with PH free packaging materials. Ensuring integrity is maintained.

Crown immediately got to work, introducing market-leading stock identification and tagging technology, classifying books by series and volume to ensure seamless retrieval. SHL are able to simply order books online and Crown undertakes two deliveries per day between the storage facility and SHL, ensuring that all books are handled with the upmost care whilst offering a seamless service.

The Results

  • Crown Records Management was awarded the contract to manage storage and retrieval. 
  • Over 7,500 linear metres of books are now stored in Crown’s secure facility.
  • Students can simply order their books online, with a 24-hour retrieval turnaround
  • Two delivery runs per day made by Crown, over 100 books a day, allowing SHL to provide a service without need for physical presence.
  • Librarians have the ability to maintain control with  fully integrated remote system
  • The service is so seamless, that the students have not noticed that books are now stored offsite

The Future

The University of London plan to extend their partnership with Crown Records Management further. The library will consider expanding the number of books stored by a further 4,000 linear metres as it continues to modernise. They are also planning a much bigger depository with the ambition of providing a shared collection with other college libraries.

 “One of the greatest measures of success has been that the students are not even aware that many books are stored off-site by a third-party provider – that’s testament to the skill and expertise of the Crown team. Crown is more than a supplier, they truly are a partner.” 

Nick Barratt, Director, Senate House Library