A bit of history helps to explain how the new Greenwich Centre brought the physical building and it’s activities together, and how a spark of inspiration made the library a more accessible and desirable attraction.
In 1993, Greenwich Council was looking to find better ways to run it’s seven leisure centres and created Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) with a brief to deliver more cost-effective and customer-focused facilities. The successful operation, a charitable social enterprise, quickly attracted interest from around the country and currently manages over 150 facilities. With the growth of GLL outside South London came the need to rebrand and ‘Better’ became the customer- facing proposition. A challenging name that GLL are committed to living up to and seems to be exemplified in this recent development at Greenwich.
The original Greenwich Centre Library facility, now one of twelve libraries managed by GLL, was originally based at East Greenwich in an old Carnegie building, and shared the space with the Music College. The building declined and fell into disrepair, as did the nearby Arches Leisure Centre . Working in partnership with the Royal Borough of Greenwich, GLL (Better) found the opportunity to combine the two facilities in the new build project – Greenwich Square. This civic space in the heart of East Greenwich, originally the site of Greenwich District Hospital, brought premium, sustainable homes, first-rate health and leisure facilities in landscaped woodland to enhance the community and culture heritage of Greenwich.
At the centre of the Square, both physically and socially, is the Greenwich Centre. The centre includes: a stylish gym with the latest, fully accessible fitness technology, two swimming pools including a learner pool for little ones and families, a bright, friendly café and an ultra-modern library facility with the latest digital technology.
The Library opened in June 2015 and both old and new users were immediately at ease with the new systems. With this project the synching of library and front of house management systems with library security gates and self-service hardware had been the key to a successful launch.
Working with Paul Croxford, GLL’sBusiness and Project Analyst/Engineer, Capita (LMS), Legend (front of house) and 2CQR (library security and self-service) integrated their systems to provide a seamless customer experience. Andrea Lewis, Service Manager, was keen to make the point that with all the technical aspects working there was more time to deal with customers and develop events.
Certainly the Library was a lively place to visit, and the list of events proved Andrea’s point. All age and interest groups seeming to be catered for from Baby Rhyme Time, Homework and Manga groups to Gaming Tournaments and Knit and Natter afternoons.
A very public library
It was the new Library we were particularly interested in but we soon found the synergy between all the facilities was the key to this centre’s success.
Access to the Library is via the Greenwich One Card. Developed by ‘Better’ and the Royal Borough of Greenwich this card combines access to all the Borough’s Libraries and leisure facilities along with a wide range of discount offers.
Under the “Better” banner the staff were trained in the basics of the Centre’s activities to enable rotation of shifts, cover when needed and extended opening hours. As Andrea Lewis, Service Manager, explained “ With the correct staff training and self-service systems the Express Library can now open with the other facilities at 6.30 and stay open until 10.00 on weekdays”. This obviously has great benefits both in enabling early risers or evening users flexibility and in attracting those visiting other Centre’s facilities to enjoy the library.
The Express Library has a three bin sorter, Totem self-service kiosk and security gates, all supplied and installed by 2CQR, with the main library also equipped with 2CQR’s ‘Baby’ self-service unit.
It was interesting to note that alongside Andrea’s ‘Service Manger’ title is, in brackets, “Library and Front of House”. An acknowledgement that the facilities at Greenwich Centre are customer-focused and very much seen as a place of leisure as well as learning.
Calum Bradbury-Sparvell, Service Centre Supervisor (Library and Front of House), picked up on the staff ‘cross-training’ point adding “although staff cannot be trained fully in all aspects of each other’s speciality, like pool lifeguard, an awareness of issues across the centre helps so much with user relationship”
Andrea also found the financial valuation, demanded by the paid-for leisure services provided a useful insight when considering the value offered by the library’s free services.
As well as providing great services the challenge to the Borough was always to ensure value for money. The move to self-service has been a great success on both counts. Andrea, who had known 2CQR products from her previous work at Wandsworth Library was impressed with the way products and software had created the customer experience everyone had desired.
“Even the often hidden and unsung book return sorter has made a great impact. In its glass enclosure it makes a striking feature but, more importantly, it facilitates faster shelf return, freeing staff to develop better user relationships and create attractive library related events”
Phil Farrell, 2CQR CEO, saw the creation of the new Centre as a great example of the benefit of close co-operation between supplier and customer. “Working with a comprehensive brief from GLL, our engineers, with support from GLL’s and Capita’s team, have fully integrated our security and self-service products for the Library at the Greenwich Centre to enhance both user and staff experience”