Long Term Partnership and Adding Value

With Alan Elkes from Telepen, and Ian Keepins, Helen Barrell and Mike Moore from the University of Birmingham.

Telepen has been working in partnership with the University of Birmingham for over 20 years, primarily delivering Access Control and Room Booking for the University’s library facilities.

Birmingham has four library facilities across the City and one in Stratford-upon-Avon. Twenty-two years ago they realised a need for Access Control. Telepen were appointed to install Tripod Turnstiles whereby entry is granted via an ID card with a magstripe. Tripods were a popular choice then, offering a robust and accurate access control solution. Ten years later in 2006, the Main library tripods were upgraded to bi-parting gates and integrated with Telepen’s Access Control Software. The bi-parting gates featuring an advanced technology, together with Telepen’s Access Control Software offered a complete access control solution. With the software linking to the Library Management System (LMS), access is only given to current students, eliminating the risk of old membership cards being inappropriately used and also providing useful reports about usage trends and busy times.
Ian Keepins, the Assistant Director of the University’s library services, could not speak highly enough of Telepen, “I cannot think of a single supplier relationship that is better than the one we have with Telepen.”

Further service improvements for students came with the introduction of Telepen’s Room Booking in 2015 which replaced the inefficient paper-based booking process. The web-based software enables students and the administration team to make and manage bookings for each of the group study rooms. Hardware in the form of sleek RB2 wall boxes were fitted to each room to control access via magnetic locks. Helen Barrell, the universities Digital Library Manager, couldn’t be more enthusiastic about the impact the service has had, “The Room Booking service streamlined our outdated manual process and is now an essential library service. Room usage is completely maximised across the fifteen rooms we have in the Main Library and the Law Schools study space.”

In 2016, the University undertook the major move to the new Main Library which is a superb and modern facility. The access control services were naturally a critical part of the opening and Telepen supported the move with ease. With the footfall increasing by 30% involving up to 1.5m visits per annum, the IDL Glasswing gates had to work. Helen Barrell observed “While the Construction Managers had a one year snag period, Telepen Engineers attended day one and we didn’t have to worry about anything they were working on.”

Helen also highlighted how Telepen engineers reacted to a problem which was preventing the Room Booking wall boxes from operating. Helen explained that Telepen’s response was not to defer the problem, but rather to come straight out and address the issue. “Instead of washing their hands of the problem, Telepen committed to solving it. I cannot speak highly enough of the support we get from the whole team.”

The most recent addition to the setup was the installation of the Temporary Card Kiosk at the entrance to the Main Library. A student who has forgotten their library card can now issue themselves their own 24 hour day pass, at the kiosk, which eliminates waiting times and the associated frustration. The library team love it!

Alan Elkes, Telepen’s Sales and Marketing Director, summarises, “Our approach is to support our customers by understanding what they need and by building strong partnerships over time.”

Ian Keepins concurs, “Working with Telepen is a straightforward partnership based on trust.”