The wonderful annual JQFestival is fast approaching, celebrating all that is great about Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. Well, did you know Birmingham City University, (BCU) has a School of Jewellery right in the heart of this area? It is located on Vittoria Street, No’s 82-86, not too far from the Golden Square. A recent visit to the School’s library, to become more familiar with the service and its stock, enabled me to unearth some gems of information on the rich educational history of the building.
During the late 19th century Birmingham’s jewellery trade grew. Consequently there was a demand for technical education in craft skills. In response, in 1888, the Birmingham Jewellers’ and Silversmiths’ Association and the Municipal School of Art began delivery of classes at the Ellen Street School to the west of the Quarter. It proved so popular that in 1890 oversubscription meant a move to the current Vittoria Street premises. Built in c 1865, on the former rear garden of No. 30 Frederick Street, the Venetian Gothic building had been acquired by William Randle for his goldsmith’s manufactory. Over time the building has been extended to meet need, most notably in 1911/12 and 1992/3.
Back in April we held another of our LIKE events, aimed at library staff who would like to share experiences of events or courses they have attended, or projects they are working on. Staff at all levels are invited, including those who are there just to listen and learn.
Visits to Coventry and Wolverhampton University Libraries, where a number of staff from the Customer Services team were interested to see similarities and differences in opening hours, roving and use of portable devices, and rotas/staffing. We really enjoyed these visits and are keen to continue exploring other university libraries, not just to see where we think we are doing well, or where we could do better, but also to
steal their brilliant ideas learn some new things! Our doors are always open for a reciprocal visit as well, and we’ve even been known to bring out the posh biscuits for the occasion…
A colleague demonstrated a new dashboard that he has been working on which will collect together a number of library metrics that are of interest to staff. This was fascinating stuff and we were all really impressed with how the data is displayed in a way that we can use to improve services (the rumours are true – library nerds like us love spreadsheets, statistics and fancy ways of visualising data). We’re currently undertaking space usage research which will feed into this project as well.
We also had a good discussion about promotion of resources, which is something else many of us are passionate about! We want to make sure that everyone is aware of the huge amount of resources that are available to them via Library & Learning Resources – we say it time and again, but there’s SO MUCH STUFF available, that you maybe didn’t even know you wanted! Did you know that you can view the entire Vogue US archive and check out those 1892 fashions? Watch loads of plays being performed on stage via Drama Online or Digital Theatre Plus? Read popular music journalism since the 60s via Rock’s Back Pages? You can see all of these and more via our A-Z of Resources.
We’ll be organising the next LIKE event shortly.
Over the summer we’re going to be making some changes to Curzon Library.
During June we will be working in the central area of level 1 (near the entrance/exit), removing the seating areas, PCs, and printers to make way for new shelving and study space.
The printers, top-up machines and library catalogues will move to new locations on level 1. The self-service machines will remain near the entrance/exit gates.
New shelving will be installed upstairs, providing us with some much needed room for expansion of the library stock.
By the end of July we will have installed the seating/tables on level 1, and we will be getting ready to reinstall the PCs downstairs on level 0.
We expect there will be some noise disruption whilst furniture is dismantled and rebuilt, and some of the equipment (self-service, printers etc.) will be out of use for a short period whilst it is being moved. We have duplicate equipment on the ground floor, and staff will be on hand to help you find what you need.
The Library & Learning Resources Systems Team want to hear about your experiences with eBooks here at BCU. As a result, we are running a short survey which should take no more than 10 minutes of your time.
All those students who partake will be able to enter a prize draw to win some Amazon Vouchers. All data collected in this survey will be held securely. We would welcome your responses by 15th May.
Just click on the link below to take part:
Many thanks for your help.
^Posted on behalf of The Library & Learning Resources Systems Team.
An effective library is at the heart of a successful student’s study at university – whether it’s the physical library of books and study space or the virtual library of online resources and databases. But most important is that library users have a successful experience of using the library.
BCU’s Library and Learning Resources (LLR) have had their Customer Services Excellence award review recently – and have passed with flying colours. Among the external assessor’s comments were:
‘LLR have taken on board … to engage more with students on navigation, space, and noise. The Be Considerate campaign has given more information on these issues and clearer signage has been installed.’
‘LLR use the acronym CSE [Customer Service Excellence] and this is now becoming everyday language. The acronym is used to mean providing excellent service as opposed to referring to the CSE Standard. This has helped embed an ethos where everything that LLR do in terms of delivering and improving services, is natural and not contrived to meet the Standard’
‘… all of the students interviewed confirmed they were satisfied with LLR – ‘they are brilliant and always try to help you’’
But we don’t intend to stop here. There are plans in store to improve access to books and electronic resources, to identify ways of engaging students in selecting the books they need, improve the library website and look at how the space in the library can better respond to students’ changing needs.
If you have any questions, comments or complaints about the library, please let us know so we can sort it out. If you have had a good experience, please let us know too – and tell your friends!