Friday, 12 December 2008

The end of term approaches

Putting catalogue upgrades and reindexing to one side for a moment it seems a good time to remind users about our vacation opening hours now that we have reached the last day of the term. Congratulations to everyone who made it this far!

It is a frequent misconception that the library closes for the entire vacation. This is not so and we will be open except on those days when the College is closed. However, some important points to note are:
  1. We open at 10.00 so no early reference-only opening and close at 20.00 on weekdays
  2. On Saturday 20th we open at 12.00 and close at 17.00
  3. We will be closed on Sunday 21st December
  4. We close at 16.00 on Tuesday 23rd December to re-open at 10.00 on Monday January 5th
  5. Items are loaned over the vacation and you will be able to renew on-line throughout the holiday period
  6. Fines are not charged for days when we are closed
Our systems (catalogue, proxy server etc.) are monitored over the holiday but our email addresses are not so there will be no replies from the 24th until we reopen. As usual you can check all of the exact details via the library website.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Library catalogue - latest news

Touching wood and crossing our collective fingers it is looking as if our work on the catalogue has gone smoothly and with very limited disruption for users. The bulk of the data (212,386 records if you are interested) was imported by Saturday evening and a further small set of records was loaded on Monday morning. We had a minor problem with these but this has now been sorted out and we are now checking that the data is all intact and doing what it should do. Once this is done we will be able to start cataloguing new items and edit existing records.

The catalogue was available throughout the process and although a few things need to be sorted out is still functioning. There will be a short interruption to keyword searching when we rebuild the indexes, but there will be notices about this on the catalogue at the time, and posts on our Twitter feed. This is most likely to be on Friday 12th in the morning. After this we will be tidying up the displays of information and checking that the indexes are all working. Our main priority will be to ensure that the catalogue is in a stable and functioning state for the Christmas vacation.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Library catalogue - rebuild underway

As you can see from the Twitter feed down there on the right we have started to load the bibliographic data back in to the the library system. This process should take about 30 hours in total if the import carries on at its present speed. After this we will be spending time checking that the data is all correct and then working on rebuilding indexes and ensuring that the information on the catalogue, and elsewhere displays correctly, and also making sure that all the other parts of the system, are getting the right details.

We are not touching the circulation system(the bit that handles borrowing, returns, requests etc) so borrowers and books will still all be linked together. However, displays of what you have on loan or have requested will be affected whilst the upload is in progress.

So why are we doing this? It is all to do with how the information about each book, journal, DVD etc. is held on the database. Most library systems use MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloguing) to hold the information. Over time this has evolved and the version we have been using - UKMARC - has been superseded and we need to move to a later version, MARC21. To the end user this will have little visible impact but it will bring some advantages to us in how we handle data relating to items we purchase, and means that we will spend less time having to convert records obtained from external sources when we purchase new items. This is particularly relevant to our growing collection of electronic books.

If you want to know some more about MARC have a look at this Wikipedia article which will get you started and has links to a range of other sources of information.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Library Catalogue - work in progress

Work has now started on updating the bibliographic database that underpins the library catalogue. The immediate impact of this is that we are not able to add new items to the catalogue or edit existing records. Please be aware that the information about items you have on loan may also become limited as the databases are rebuilt.

Further bulletins will appear here and on the library website as we go along, but library users should be prepared for some disruption.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Avoiding fines

Since we introduced fines for the late return of items a couple of years ago there has been a very positive improvement in keeping books circulating and in getting them back when requested. Readers are encouraged to return or renew items on time in order to avoid fines. We will email you before books are due and immediately a book becomes overdue so that you can get it back to us, or renew it. You can renew on-line and we will shortly be introducing an automated telephone renewal service. If you use the library catalogue to check your account and to renew you will see that we have colour coded the due dates to alert you to items due back shortly or that are overdue.

If you do incur a fine we will now email you to let you know that a fine has been charged. This should be helpful if you renewed late or returned an item late via the book return bins. If your fines total more than £25 you will need to reduce them in order to borrow further items - but we would much prefer it if this situation didn't arise!

If you are not sure whether we have your email address or not please check your account on the catalogue or ask at the Issue Desk. We will also email you with further reminders for overdue items, when a requested item is ready for collection, and if an item you have out has been requested by another reader.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Library Catalogue - important news

During December we will updating the bibliographic database that underpins the library catalogue. Much of this work will have little or no impact on services. However, there will be a few days when the catalogue will be unavailable. The dates are still to be finally confirmed. We will provide a back up but this will not be a "live" system. Library users are strongly encouraged to carry out any searches for material, particularly if you are thinking of doing some Christmas vacation reading, as soon as possible and to make reservations for any items that are on loan sooner rather than later.

We will be providing updates and further information as work progresses on the library website and the catalogue, as well as here and via our Twitter feed.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Christmas Vacation Hours

It may still only be November but our Christmas Vacation opening times are now available. Please note that the Library, like the rest of the College, will be closed from 24th December to 4th January inclusive, and that we close early on December 23rd. You can find the all the College term dates here.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Serve yourself and help Children in Need

On Friday 14th November we will be donating 10p for each transaction carried out on our self-service machines to this year's BBC Children in Need appeal. If you haven't had a go at issuing or returning a book then why not have a go on Friday? The machines are by the Issue Desk and there are simple instructions on the screen. You will get a receipt to show you the due date or to confirm that you have returned an item.

However, at present no member of library staff has volunteered to don a Pudsey costume!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Three weeks!

Where did those three weeks go since term started? Many new students are now busy using the library, borrowing books and getting to grips with logging into the eLibrary. Don't worry if you are finding it a bit of a struggle or somewhat daunting, it will all click into place. There is still time to attend one of our 5.00 pm induction tours and there are sessions on Saturdays as well. You can always get help by asking at the Help Desk, but if you just want to borrow a book take it to the Issue Desk at the library entrance or use one of our self-service workstations.

If you have been borrowing books don't forget to keep them renewed, you can do this on-line via the library catalogue. This way you will avoid paying any fines. We will send you a reminder before the book is due back, and also let you know if someone else has requested it. Make sure you check your email regularly - by default we use your Birkbeck email which can be accessed via the Webmail service. You can arrange to have your mail forwarded to another account if you wish. If you want to see which email address we have for you then log into the "My Account" section on the catalogue using your library barcode (for students this begins 020...).

Returning students are reminded that they need to re-enrol otherwise you will not be able to borrow or renew after 31st October.

Hopefully there will be another entry before another three weeks have passed and in the meantime if you have any comments or any questions there is a comment link below.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Induction tours

Don't forget that all new students are invited to come along to one of our induction tours of the library. These take place at 17:00 each weekday afternoon and last for about 30 minutes. Meet by the comfy chairs just outside the library entrance gate. More information on these tours and other arrangements for new students can be found here.

You are also invited to look at LIFE (Library Induction for Everyone) which will give you the chance to learn about our services and even have a go at a few quiz questions to see how well you are doing.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Birkbeck Library - the movie

Perhaps appropriately for a library we have produced a silent movie to give you a brief guide to what we have on offer. This is our first attempt so look out for future "director's cuts" and sequels! Let us know what you think and if you find it useful.

(You might need the latest version of Flash Player to watch it)

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Welcome - or welcome back

The new academic year is rapidly approaching and the endless summer days are becoming a figment of memory - or did we just imagine them? Time to put away that novel and start thinking about getting ahead with some course reading, unless you are studying English in which case carry on reading that novel.

All students, new and old, are advised to check out our website and to have a look at our revamped pages on how to use the library. New students are also advised to click on the big blue button and see what we have on offer in the way of induction tours and how to get started on using the library. You don't need to register with us - simply bring your card along when you have received it from the Registry and it should work straight away on our turnstile and enable you to borrow books. Of course if you encounter any difficulties in getting in please ask a member of library staff for help.

If you are a returning student you should find that your card will keep working for at least a month giving you time to get re-enrolled. You shouldn't find that there have been too many changes, but by the start of term you will find some new PCs in the library and a revamp of our signage should mean that things are a bit easier to find.

One thing that will be different is that we are going to be open from 08.30 each weekday morning. This will be self-service only until 10.00 when our normal staffed service operates. Our term time hours start from Monday 22nd September.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Bank Holiday opening

Just a quick reminder that Birkbeck Library will be closed on Bank Holiday Monday as the library staff grab their buckets and spades and head for the coast - or possibly not. We will be open as usual tomorrow Saturday 23rd 12-5 and then reopen at 10 on Tuesday 26th.

Friday, 25 July 2008

Changes ahead

Access arrangements to electronic resources are gong to be changing, and you may already have noticed some new login buttons on your favourite database. This is due to national and international agreements and we are adapting to meet these changes. We hope that as far as possible users will be able to login much as before, but there will be some resources that will require a new approach. You can expect to see buttons or links labelled "Institutional login" or "UK Federation login" as well as some still referring to Athens.

We will try to make everything clear for Birkbeck users and will be updating our website as necessary. Unfortunately not all resources are adopting the same terminology or moving to the new systems at the same speed. You won't need to learn a new username or password - your existing Birkbeck username will still be the way you get in, but the route you take might be a little unfamiliar. Watch this space - and if you find yourself looking at a blank space rather than a database or e-journal let us know!

If you have a real interest in finding out what is behind all this here is a good place to start.

Elsewhere you might find a few small changes taking place on the library catalogue. These are largely cosmetic but we hope that they will make things just a bit easier. Work has already started on making printouts from the catalogue less cluttered, and we now have a "Did you mean" screen coming up if you do a keyword search for something that isn't in the index. These are based on the efforts of colleagues at Johns Hopkins University and Huddersfield University.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

It's been a quiet week ...

As those of you who are aficionados of the work of Garrison Keillor will know it is often quiet in Lake Woebgone and we too are at that time of year when the library becomes less busy and there is less bustle. However, we are still open and numbers of students are taking advantage to get ahead with some reading and preparation for the coming year, or are working on essays and dissertations Behind the scenes library staff too are preparing for the new year whilst recovering from the old.

The shelves are being put in to good order and booklists are being checked. We are also planning ahead for induction sessions to help new (and old) students settle in in the new term. If you are coming to us in October, or even if you want a refresher, you might be interested in looking at our online induction (LIFE) or at our Library Skills pages. The LIFE pages will be updated over the summer, but well worth a look.

Alternatively you could go off and and listen to tales about life in Lake Woebegone! (Also available via BBC7)

Friday, 11 July 2008

Friday 11th July

Just a reminder that the library is closed today for a staff development day.

We will be open again tomorrow as usual from 12-5. The library catalogue and website are up and running and if you email us we will deal with any messages as soon as possible when we reopen.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Opening hours update

As previously mentioned we are now operating our Summer vacation opening hours. A change to note is that we will be open on a Self-Service basis only from 10.00-14.00 on Friday 8th August with a full service from 14.00.

If you have looked at our Facebook page recently you might have noticed that the opening hours displayed there suggest that we are open on Sunday - this is not the case and we are trying to get the information changed, which is not as easy as you might expect!

And finally ... Don't forget that we are closed on Friday 11th July.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Birkbeck Open Evening 26th June

Birkbeck Library will have a stall at the College Open Evening taking place on the 26th June. If you are planning to come to the Open Evening and want to find out what the library can offer please come and see us. You can also have a guided tour of the library or obtain a pass to allow you to make a visit in your own time.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Going up!

We are pleased to say that the library lift has been repaired and it is once again possible to enjoy the view over Torrington Square as you ascend to the upper floors. Apologies to any library users who have been inconvenienced whilst the lift was out of order.

Friday, 6 June 2008

Would you mind answering a few questions?

The Birkbeck Library Survey 2008 is still available for you to let us know how we are doing. We make use of the information from the survey to help with developing our Strategic Plan so your views are very important. You might even win a prize of a store voucher!

Don't forget that we also welcome comments and suggestions from our users at any time of the year. Comments forms can be found in the library and every one is looked at by the Library Management Team and responded to. We also have an online comment form.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Take care of your laptop

Unfortunately a reader had a laptop stolen today whilst it was left for a short while. If you are bringing a laptop to the library please don't leave it unsecured for even a few minutes, and consider gettting, and using, a lock to secure it to a desk. 

The safety and security of your laptop, along with your other possessions, is your responsibility.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

Looking forward to the summer

As the end of the exam period comes into view it seems a good time to look forward to our summer vacation opening hours and to mention a few things about borrowing books over the next few months.

Opening Hours
Early opening and 24 hour opening end on Friday 13th June when we revert to our normal term-time hours. From Monday 21st June our Summer Vacation hours start. These are:
Mon-Fri 10.00 - 20.00
Sat 12.00 - 17.00
Sun Closed

Please note that the library will be closed on Friday July 11th and Monday August 25th. As usual you can keep fully up to date with our opening hours via the Library web site.

Borrowing over the summer
Don't forget to bring all your books back after you have finished your exams or dissertations. If you are returning next year you can borrow over the summer, but please remember that other readers may place requests on items so don't go off on holiday with books that you won't be able to return if they are wanted. If you have access to the Internet you can keep your account up to date by renewing online and checking your email regularly to see if we have written to you. However, fines will still be charged throughout the vacation and not being able to return your books because you were sailing in the Pacific or trekking in the Himalayas won't be accepted as a valid excuse!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Summer walks in Bloomsbury

Working with the Bloomsbury Colleges Librarians, the British Library are organising a series of free guided walks in the Bloomsbury and Kings Cross areas. All walks will finish at the British Library where, over refreshments, you will have the chance to find out more about how the Library can support your research. You will also have the opportunity to gain a Reader Pass which will give you access to the British Library's collections. The walks will be taking place between between 10th June and 1st July. Please note that these are for postgraduate researchers and academic staff only. For more information download the flyer.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Bank Holiday weekend May 23rd - 26th

Birkbeck Library will be open overnight again over the Bank Holiday weekend, but please note that we will be closing at 20:00 on Monday 26th May.  

The library also opens at 08:30 throughout the exam period so you can get a bit of last-minute revision in. For full details please look at our opening hours page.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

Welcome to the Birkbeck Library blog

This is the first post on the new Birkbeck Library blog. As you can see from the links over on the right we have a number of blogs appearing which we hope will be of use to Birkbeck Library users. We also have a Facebook page and if you are a Facebook user we would be delighted to have you as a fan.

All this is rather experimental at the moment so there may be the odd gap in posting and no doubt the occasional typo will creep in. Please remember to visit the Library website for the latest and most up to date news - and of course if you are in any doubt about anything relating to the Library please contact us.