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Preserving University of London’s library for years to come

The University of London comprises of 18 federal member institutions, as well as 9 institutes of the School of Advanced Study.

Senate House Library (SHL) is the central library for University of London. SHL has 30,000 student members and more than 300 visitors per day. With millions of books and journals, digital resources and beautiful study spaces at their disposal.

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. Due to its ever-growing collection of books, as well as serving the needs of its members who required a quiet place to study, and collaborate.

The solution

University of London required a third-party to house parts of its collection, but near enough for quick and easy access when needs demanded. The key objective was to not reduce the level of service currently provided to students whilst maintaining the integrity of the books – some of them priceless.

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

Crown immediately got to work, introducing market-leading stock identification and tagging technology. Books were classified by series and volume to ensure seamless retrieval. SHL are now able to simply request which books they need online. The Crown team are then notified and arrange for delivery. With two deliveries per day between the storage facilities and SHL a seamless and consistent service has been created. Whilst also ensuring that all books are handled with care.

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 a 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

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