Self-service upgrade at the University of Nottingham

In the summer of 2019, Telepen supported the University of Nottingham with the upgrading of their library access, self-service kiosks and stock management systems.

The University of Nottingham is home to a network of subject specific libraries serving 35,000 students (2017-2018). Library specialisms include Business, Medicine, Arts, Sciences and Music, and they are home to over one million print books, 300,000 ebooks, 50,000 ejournals plus a Manuscripts and Specials Collection.

In 2019, the University wanted to upgrade their self-service kiosks to new, cyber-secure kiosks, to allow multiple item issue and return, and to speed up customer transactions. The University also wanted to introduce a more robust stock management system to improve returns and proactively alert staff to misplaced or misallocated items.

Building on our existing relationship with The University of Nottingham, we were awarded the contract after a tender process. Barney Yabbacome, Telepen Account Manager said, “Having worked with the University of Nottingham previously, we felt confident we could deliver the right hardware, and software, to create a secure and user-friendly environment within the timescales required, and we were pleased to be awarded the tender”.

Adam Pickard-Brace, the University of Nottingham Librarian commented, “All of our library security is now provided by Telepen. We’ve built up a good relationship with them and it’s great to know you’re dealing with a team that understands our site and service”.

In order to deliver this new solution, we needed to complete a multi-site installation during the summer period, accommodating the University’s tight schedule. It was also necessary to work within the limitations of how, and where, units could be placed due to existing underfloor heating, pipework, and other structural elements. To accommodate this, we retrospectively added surface-mounted ramps to the security gates, to avoid drilling into the floor. These book security gates, installed in seven of the libraries, not only provide security for the books themselves, but in-built people counters create an automated traffic monitoring system which can be used to manage staffing schedules, monitor peak times, and aid with management of administrative tasks.

Key to the University of Nottingham upgrade has been the introduction of Telepen’s stock management device referred to as the “Live Scanning Wand”. This lightweight, easy-to-use wand is a hand-held device that allows staff to conduct stocktakes that communicate live with the Library Management System. Users simply pass the wand in front of the shelves, and the wand scans all of the RFID labels, quickly identifying missing and out of place items. The scanning wands connect via Bluetooth to tablets, and can be used for managing returns, as well as stocktakes.

The University of Nottingham now have 10 of these wands available for their libraries, improving accuracy within the library shelves, as well as within the Library Management System.

Adam Pickard-Brace, University of Nottingham Librarian shared, “Using the live scanning wand means you can be confident that the data you’re looking at is up to date, and it’s not flagging up something as missing when in fact it had already been found earlier in the day. It’s really made a difference and we are much more efficient.”

Six libraries on campus have also been upgraded to include RFID V5 self-service kiosks, delivering a user-centric service whereby library users can manage their accounts, check books in and out and complete contactless payments.

Named as one of the Top 20 Universities in the country by QS World University Rankings Guide 2021, Complete University Guide 2021 and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021, the University of Nottingham is dedicated to enhancing the student experience.

Whilst upgrading the library kiosks and management system through Telepen, the end-user experience was as much of a priority to the University as the improvement and efficiencies introduced for the administrative staff.

The University libraries also utilise NUSearch, an online library discovery tool that was also upgraded in August 2019 and allows users to discover the full collections available on campus. With users having such a large collection available, students are allowed to borrow up to 60 books on their account at a time. In addition to the range of account management services, the new V5 self-service kiosks reduce the physical interaction time for these users, utilising RFID technology to scan multiple books at once for both removal, and return.

Adam Pickard-Brace, University of Nottingham Librarian concluded, “We had a tight schedule for taking away the existing system and installing the new one, but it went smoothly and we were very happy with the process and the support from Telepen.”

To find out how Telepen can provide a solution for your library, call +44 (0)1582 769991 or email