As part of an update of facilities and services the library management team at the University of Lincoln had proposed an upgrade of the stock management system and improved student interface with the assets.
The existing EM system was close to the end of its life and the management team had been evaluating the benefits other universities had received from enhanced stock control using RFID. Their desire to move to RFID was confirmed following attendance at a seminar hosted by 2CQR.
When a budget opportunity became available it was a mixed blessing as it came with a very short six weeks lead-time instead of a preferred six months to implement the project.
Following the tender process 2CQR were chosen, for their flexibility and fit with the university’s desire for fast initial implementation and commitment to ongoing development. And although it was helpful that 2CQR were conveniently located this was not the main benefit…they needed to be the best!
Flexible and adaptable!
Software written by Mike Chambers and his team at 2CQR gave options for customisation, key services being introduced first, with pretty much all others being capable of switching on as appropriate. Dave Masterson, leading the project for the university was impressed both with the technical ability of the 2CQR offering and their professional ability saying ” Despite the flexibility offered within the software it did not compromise the integrity and power offered” Dave continues “The opportunity to be involved with the development and personalisation of the software both on the campus and at the 2CQR headquarters was an important benefit to the university”
2CQR, despite being recognised as established suppliers with over two decades experience dedicated to the library market still retain a friendly non-corporate approach and Lincoln University crucially liked the degree of involvement and understanding they showed throughout the project. “It is obviously a challenge to retain the “family, caring” feel when you are a substantial international player” remarked Ian Snowley, the University Librarian.
Locations, locations, locations….
With five sites: Lincoln, Hull, Riseholme, Holbeach and Cathedral and with over 10,000 students expectations to manage the 60 university library professionals and the 2CQR team began the process.
“The system had to be in and working with any customising managed “on the hoof” and it could not be tried and tested with the luxury of normal time spans as anything that delayed implementation could have been costly” explained Mike Chambers.
Ease of use for the university librarians was taken care of within the existing back-end so the important developments were needed around the self-service issues. With students from many social and cultural backgrounds, many starting in Higher Education for the first time, the first experience with the system defined the key ergonomic requirements in delivering a satisfactory new system.
Making sure the complex information was displayed simply and clearly on screen was important to counter the issues raised when moving from EM including, as just one example, where only one book could be presented at one time with EM to a multi-item read capability with RFID. 2CQR’s software developers understood what was required and were experienced in understanding user and usage needs and adapting to meet these needs.
The 2CQR self-service Totems are proving to be 100% reliable even with extremely heavy usage, being on 8am ‘till midnight and, at peak times 24 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Ian Snowley is extremely pleased with the self-service usability and satisfaction results. “Touch screen monitors at library exits have been achieving 70% approval ratings for self-service, an improvement from 62% in the previous quarter and we are anticipating this moving to 80%”.
He concludes “And for the future, the way we have worked with 2CQR, sharing knowledge, will not only benefit their working but also adds to other users options. Importantly, as others develop their preferences, and new thinking comes into play, here at Lincoln we will be able to develop our services to students and continue our customisation of new features”.