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Updates to Library Services

Updates to Library Services

6 August 2020

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Although the Library buildings have been closed since late March, we’ve continued to provide access to a wide range of digital resources and services to support teaching, learning and research, all of which have been very well used.

We know that access to the physical buildings and resources is important to you and are keen to open our doors again, as soon as it is safe to do so. Bringing all our buildings back from total shutdown and adapting them to comply with physical distancing and enhanced hygiene standards will take some time, so please bear with us while we work with our colleagues in Estates to get this right. Our number one priority is to provide a safe and secure environment for Library users and staff.

Reopening Library buildings will be a gradual, phased programme, informed by the University’s plans for reopening the Campus and the Government's COVID-19 recovery strategy.

We will provide further details about what is happening and when as soon as they can be confirmed.

When will the Library buildings be reopening?

We have embarked upon a phased re-opening of Library buildings, starting with the Philip Robinson Library (PRL), which opened for a Click & Collect service on 13th July. Entrance to and from the Library will be by appointment, to ensure that physical distancing is maintained. Other Library buildings will re-open in due course, subject to passing the necessary building checks.

What services will be available?

Phase 1 of our recovery plan will offer the following services from the Philip Robinson Library:

Click and collect - items from the printed loan collections in ANY of our Libraries will be requested online and made available for collection from the foyer of the Philip Robinson Library. From 22nd July - print items from the Team Valley Research Reserve (TVRR) can also be requested via this service.

Postal deliveries may be available if you are unable to arrange for collection of books from the Philip Robinson Library. Please contact us if this is the case.

Postal returns - we will be offering a freepost service to enable students who completed their studies this summer to return any outstanding Library books to Newcastle.

Book drop - the facility to return books loaned from ANY of our libraries via the post slot in the Philip Robinson door has been available for most of the closure period and will continue to operate as normal. Items will be checked in by Library staff and removed from borrowers’ loan records as soon as we regain full access to the building. Overdue charges are currently being waived. All returned items will be quarantined for a period of 72 hrs before being reshelved as a safety precaution.

We are unable to produce smartcards in Phase 1 of reopening but will be looking to facilitate this as soon as possible. 

Who will be able to access onsite services?

We are prioritising onsite services for staff, students and NHS colleagues. Access for our valued community of external members will follow later.

When will I be able to access study spaces and IT clusters?

We are working with colleagues in ESS to implement necessary adaptions to Library study spaces and their environs to comply with physical distancing requirements. We are also exploring the potential to set up alternative/additional study space locations around the campus. This work will take some time to complete and it is likely that it will be late August before any Library study spaces will be available for use. We anticipate using a booking system to facilitate and manage access. Library clusters will probably come back on stream at the same time as access to study spaces.

What about access to Special Collections & Archives?

NEW from 26th August, the Special Collections reading room will reopen, but with reduced opening times and by appointment only. We are currently prioritising onsite services for staff, students and NHS colleagues. Access for our valued community of external users will follow later. See here for a step-by-step guide on requesting an item and a link to the request form. For more information on opening times and what to do before your visit and when you arrive, visit the Plan Your Visit page.

From 20th July, we are now able to respond to digitisation requests and continue to offer digital responses to collection-based queries. We hope to offer limited, by appointment access to the Reading Room from late August. In the meantime our specialist team are very happy to respond to your queries via the mailbox.

When can I come and browse the bookstock?

Access to the book shelves will not be possible in Phase 1 of our reopening programme. It is almost impossible to facilitate browsing in a manner that complies with physical distancing and hygiene requirements. We will revisit this as more of the libraries reopen, and in line with official advice.

When will the other Library buildings be open again?

We've chosen to start by reopening the Philip Robinson Library as it is the main University Library. What we learn from this experience will inform our planning for bringing the other buildings back into service. We are not yet able to say when this will be, but we’ll update you on their status as soon as we can.

Can I request items from the Library’s Research Reserve?

As of 22nd July, it is possible to request print items from the Research Reserve stock, which will be made available via the click and collect service in the Philip Robinson Library.

What about scanning services?

Subject to compliance with copyright legislation, we hope to offer an online scan and deliver service from our print holdings in Phase 2 of our service recovery plan. As we need to ensure safe access to stock and digitisation equipment across multiple Library sites, taking account of building reopening schedules and available staffing, scanning services will be restored in phases. From 22nd July,  the desktop delivery service for scanned material from the TVRR is available again. We hope to be able to have scanning services back up and running in the Philip Robinson Library by mid August.

Are there any plans for access to Print Services?

It will take time to bring Print Services back after such a long shutdown - key equipment must be serviced and we need to know the likely level of demand before we bring staff back from furlough. We don’t yet have a firm date for full reopening, but if you email to discuss your requirements, this will help us to reintroduce services in a safe, sustainable and demand-driven manner.

Are there any plans for click and collect printing?

Access to printing is dependent on when PC clusters can safely re-open - whether in the Library or elsewhere on campus. Library clusters may not necessarily be the first to reopen. Our colleagues in NUIT, who manage the NUPrint service, are working to provide covid-secure access to clusters. We anticipate that Library clusters will come back on stream at the same time as access to study spaces, which will probably be at the beginning of September.

When can we order print stock again?

We’ve been accepting new print orders since 3rd August. However, wherever possible, we will continue to seek robust access to eversions to ensure  we can provide resilient access to content in the current climate.

How do I get a new or replacement smartcard?

Please contact and provide us with your staff or student number and we will print off a new card for you to collect at a time that is convenient to you from Security Control office in the Barras Building [University map #2].

We're not yet in a position to offer a face to face smartcard renewals service in the Library, but plan to offer smartcard service operating from the Marjorie Robinson Library Rooms (MRLR) when they re-open at the beginning of September.