Self Service and Sorting Solutions for the University of Liverpool Libraries

Founded in 1881, the University of Liverpool now has over 22,000 students on campus and more than 10,000 online students across the world. With such a large student population requiring almost 24hr access to the libraries, the need for new library equipment came about out of necessity as the current equipment was going out of service.

Roy McCready, Systems Manager at the University of Liverpool explains: “We had to quickly replace our existing, obsolete equipment and were looking for innovative solutions that would provide more convenient services and more effective workflows.”

Telepen have worked with the University of Liverpool for over 20 years, however, this was the first time they would work together on this type of solution and both the self-service kiosks and sorting equipment projects were won via a tender.

On the decision to award the self-service and sorting solutions contracts to Telepen, Roy commented: “The quality and ingenuity of the solutions provided by Telepen and their willingness to go the extra mile really set them apart. Backed by their long track-record of service delivery in the academic library sector and first-rate support from their dedicated, in-house specialists ready to attend sites if needed, we had no hesitation in awarding the contract to Telepen.”

After working together closely on the design and layout of the new equipment, the self-service and sorting solutions were implemented in the University’s two main libraries, the Harold Cohen Library and the Sydney Jones Library, in the summer of 2018.

Seven RFID self-service kiosks were installed across the two main libraries and the university’s veterinary school. The kiosks provide a complete self-service solution that requires minimal staff intervention and retains full functionality in the event of a network outage. The kiosks were programmed to be able to read the student’s individual barcodes directly from their phones which allow them to review their account status and check in or out multiple stacks of items with up to 15 items per stack. The kiosks have a slightly larger footprint than others available, however, the university saw this as an advantage as this allows for a larger shelf which makes them easier to use for the students.

In addition to the kiosks, one book sorter was installed at each of the main libraries.  The sorters are specially designed to be both quiet and extremely economical while still allowing for fast and accurate sorting of library materials with very little need for staff intervention. The modular design of the sorters makes them an extremely flexible solution and means it is possible to build a system to fit the space available.

Telepen were also able to offer the University options for trolleys to fit their requirements, as well as introducing a scale to weigh books separated and ready for transfer, so the totes would never be too heavy for a person to carry.

The benefits of these systems have been plain to see at the University of Liverpool. Students have noticed that the libraries are now easier to use, and queuing has been cut down dramatically. The automated systems have also helped to free up staff time. The University now has the peace of mind that they have quality products and services in place, supported by a reliable specialist in this sector.

Going into more detail, Roy continued: “The improvements to service delivery and the learning environment have been transformative. Completed ahead of schedule, the installation of the new equipment immediately made self-service much faster and more intuitive and their eye-catching designs have really enhanced our library spaces. Pioneering functionality, including support for our hugely popular digital ID cards, adds unparalleled service convenience and the use of leading-edge technologies provides the platform for future service development. We also now have more effective and discreet book security which supports our friendly and welcoming customer service ethos, whilst the improvements to reliability and workflows have resulted in a safer and more effective working environment for staff. These benefits and the service enhancements they have given us have been recognised as a key part of the Library’s Customer Service Excellence accreditation.”

To find out more, call Tel: +44 (0)1582 769991 or email