New Services from the University Library

Staff in Libraries, Museums and Galleries have been working hard to originate creative solutions for the challenges the University faces in lockdown.

The Library has become the first UK member of RAPID, a consortium of research libraries in the United States, New Zealand and Australia formed to speed up the supply of requested journal articles and book chapters between members.

Helen Hall, Principal Library Assistant in the Inter Library Loans section of the Library, made initial contact with the group and masterminded the adoption of RAPID by Liverpool. Because the service includes most of the leading research libraries in the countries concerned, including Ivy League members, the resources pooled by RAPID are large. Helen said: “When we send a request for something we don’t have in our collections to RAPID, there is a very strong likelihood that it will be fulfilled”, Helen explains, “we have been able to reduce the average time from a researcher placing a request to it reaching their inbox to 14 hours – about three times quicker than previously. The time difference between us and the other members is actually our friend, because if a researcher puts in a request at the end of the day, it’s likely to be in their inbox the next morning.”

Phil Sykes, Director of Libraries, Museums and Galleries, commented: “The particular group we have joined in RAPID has some of the most prestigious libraries in the world, including Harvard and Yale. So it’s quite a tribute to the quality of our print and electronic holdings that we were eligible to join”.

The Library has also introduced an original approach to getting books to academic staff and postgraduate research students during lockdown, when the two million printed items in the Library are inaccessible. “This is a particular problem in humanities and social sciences research” explains Rachel Schulkins, Acquisitions and Document Delivery Manager, “so we have introduced a service under which we will buy requested books from an online supplier and have them sent to the requestor’s home. The books are added to the library catalogue in the normal way; and when lockdown ends, they will be assimilated into stock. So we benefit the individual, but build the collection for everyone’s benefit too.” To request materials that are not currently available or accessible, use the Library’s Get It For Me service.

In addition to these new library services, the Library continues to offer its existing services for staff to support teaching and research including support with reading lists, copyright and digitisation. Phil Sykes said “I’m enormously proud of the inventive and original approaches our staff have developed to meet the challenges of lockdown. Just keeping services going is challenging in these circumstances; but actually bringing about improvements as well is quite an achievement”.