When the new Central Campus, Sandwell, was built it replaced three existing campuses in Oldbury, Smethwick and West Bromwich. This amazing iconic building with two converging wings, two storeys at one end to eight at the other, presented an interesting library management problem.
First class study
The £77 million building towers over the centre of West Bromwich and attracts students from across Birmingham and the Black Country, with students on more specialist programmes coming from much farther afield. The majority of full-time students are aged 16-18; they either study courses designed to give them skills for the modern workplace (such as Automotive Engineering, Beauty Therapy and Web Design), or they are preparing for A Levels and university in Central Sixth, the brand-new Sixth Form. The new state-of-the-art Central Campus combines a specialist automotive centre, beauty and hairdressing salons, computer suites, construction workshops, engineering and science laboratories, fashion and photography studios, a sports hall and a 170-seater theatre – among many other facilities. With an emphasis on practical experience trainee dental nurses practice in a simulated surgery, while Travel and Tourism students train in a real aircraft fuselage.
Open style, open mind
The lower and upper ground floors provide a mixed-use space and learning centres spread across seven floors with no doors. This creates a wonderfully relaxed and free flowing environment. However, the big challenge was to implement a security and management solution for library collateral whilst maintaining the open access culture across the Campus. Not only did Afzan Matloob, the Director of ILT, and
Anne Hughes, Head of ILT and Learning Resources, need to resolve this issue but, with a distinctive and modern design and colour scheme, needed to blend any hardware into the environment.
Their experience with 2CQR in the previous campuses had been extremely positive and with a clear brief the ILT and Learning resources team were keen to involve 2CQR to use their innovative expertise to help resolve the issues.
Maintaining the student flow across all floors has been achieved by having six Tagsysgates alongside the Kaba Turnstiles only on the ground floor where students enter the eight storey Learning Centre. Using Mifare cards, once passed the gates
students can use libraries on all floors. The libraries are dedicated to the relevant subjects on their floor but students can move around the various floors with library material until they need to leave the Learning Centre. To making life easier for students each floor has a staff workstation for issue and return and books are colour coded on their spines by floor. And for staff, security manage the access gates leaving contentious matter to their trained personnel and Learning Centre staff free to concentrate on their management issues.
A solution that not only works practically, but with clear acrylic and steel security gates matches, seamlessly, the access turnstiles. Similarly, with issue and return RFID readers hidden under staff desks, the hardware has only a positive impact on the interior scheme.
With RFID enables systems the college is now able to manage stock control using 2CQR Wanda readers and are in the process of setting up their Wonderwall to promote their “A” level programmes, Net Books being used within the building are also being tested for protection with RFID tags.
As a state-of-the-art building with staff keen to exploit state-of-the-art technology their collaboration with 2CQR is producing exciting and sympathetic results.
“Despite an extremely demanding building programme 2CQR delivered on time, with engineers on-site dealing with patience and skill alongside the wide range of service and contract managers”
Anne Hughes, Head of ILT and Learning Resources
“We had no issues with 2CQR throughout the whole process, our LMS works well with all the RFID products supplied and installed. We are looking seriously at the new products being developed by 2CQR to further enhance our offer to students”
Afzan Matloob, the Director of ILT