Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Christmas arrangements 2011

Well that term went quickly! As usual here is a reminder about our arrangements over Christmas.

The Library will close at 16.00 on Thursday 22 December 2011, and will re-open at 08.30 on Tuesday, 3 January 2011. The College is also closed during this time.

If you have borrowed a 3 week loan item recently you will have seen that these are not due for return until after the Christmas closure. We will be issuing 1 week loan items over the holiday from 16 December. Once again we have set up a rolling process of adjusting the due dates for items to avoid everything being due on the same date. Requested items returned next week will be kept until we reopen.

Don't forget that you will be able to renew items throughout the holiday via the library catalogue. We don't charge fines for closed days but do try to keep your account up to date and remember to renew your items if you are going to be away on holiday and out of reach of an Internet connection. Our automated email notices will continue to run throughout the holiday but in general these will only be messages about items that have been requested so that you know to return them when due as they won't be renewable.

Whilst we do try to monitor our systems (e.g. library catalogues, proxy server etc) to make sure that they are available we do not monitor the library's email accounts, so if you email us you should not expect a reply until we re-open.

Please also be aware that IT Services have scheduled essential networking moves for the 29th and 30th December. During this work you may find that some or all services are unavailable, although we hope that the library catalogue will continue to be accessible. We will try to keep up to date with the works and post news on the web site and Twitter as appropriate, bearing in mind that we will not be here so will be dependent on access via the same networks! You can see the ITS bulletin about this here.

So, in the words of the old song, "Have yourselves a merry little Christmas"!

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Do you know where your laptop is?

Whilst the majority of people coming into the library are interested only in making use of our resources we do unfortunately have some visitors who are keeping an eye open for other people's belongings left unattended. Please do not leave anything of value for even a moment and make sure that any bags, purses etc are out of sight or out of reach.

We have had a couple of laptops stolen from library desks this term already so make sure you don't walk away from yours, even if it is only to find a book on the shelves. Don't assume that your neighbour will notice if it is taken as they are probably too busy studying to take in who stopped for a few seconds to pick it up. Consider getting a Kensington lock and using it, but also bear in mind that responsibility for your possessions lies with you. You should also ensure that you have all your data securely backed up. The laptop can be replaced, but your  essay, or those holiday photos might be harder to recreate.

Apologies that this is a bit negative, but we do have to remind everyone occasionally about this.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Library Saturday workshops

Our Saturday workshops are filling up fast - there are now only places available on November 12th (Introduction to using ejournals) and November 26th (Searching the psychology literature). Book your place now at

Friday, 30 September 2011

Keping in touch

For the final post this week we'll look at how, and when, we contact you and where you can get information about the library.

The majority of our messages to our readers will be via email and in general we only write to you concerning items you have borrowed or requested. It is very important that you keep your email address up to date on your MyBirkbeck student profile if you are a student, on the HR database if you are staff, and by telling us if you are an external member of the library. One thing we did over the summer was to overhaul our email notification system so that it runs every day rather than just weekdays. The emails also go out at the same time each day, just after 9 rather than the slightly variable system we used to have. For purely administrative purposes the notice informing you that there is an item to collect go out a bit later.

As mentioned at the beginning of the week we do send out a reminder two days before your books are due back so do please act on this to renew them, or bring them back. We also send notices when they are overdue. If a book you have out is requested we will write to you to let you know that it cannot be renewed and has to be returned, and if you request a book we will email you when it arrives. If you borrow a One Day Loan item we'll jog your memory by sending you a message that it has to be returned that day.

You may occasionally get an email drawing your attention to something, such as the annual survey, but these are very few and far between.

Other ways you can find out about new or changed services include the library website, Twitter, Facebook and of course our blogs. A lot of our news and blog postings also feed into Twitter. If you contact us via Twitter or Facebook we will try to respond but for important matters please go via the library Help Desk, either by phone or by email - or even in person. We also put news on our catalogue front pages, especially if there is going to be any downtime or unexpected closures - thankfully these are rare.

And that's that for this week. Good luck next week, don't forget to come on a 5.30 library tour if you are a new student, and enjoy the sunny weekend ahead.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Moves and relocations

As well as taking all the books off the shelves to tag them this summer we have also moved them around so returning students amy find that they have to learn new locations for their subject areas. The important things to note are that more art and art history books are now on Level 2 and that all history plus a chunk of literature has moved up to level 3. This means that we have been able create some space in order to get material off the overflow trolleys. This space was created by squashing up the Bliss sequence on Level 3. If you have ever had to look for a book with an alphabetical shelfmark rather than a numerical one (Dewey calssification)  then you have used the Bliss sequence! We are gradually coverting these to the Dewey sequence. We are also gaining some space on Level 4 by reducing the runs of print journals up there, especially where we have electronic holdings. We have added some more study spaces up there. Some back runs will move down to a new storeroom we are getting. Please make sure that you study the signs around the library or refer to the plan on the website, and of course if you get really stuck ask a member of library staff for help.

Returning students will also find that the Seminar Room has a had a bit of makeover. There are now 30 Windows 7 PCs in there along with new desks, caprpet and repainted walls. As proviously mentioned we have lost access to room 402 due to pressures on space elsewhere in the college, but are adding additional PCs in the Open Area. Our colleagues in IT Services manage the PCs for us and are converting them all to Windows 7. Library users will also be able to make use of the new large IT lab being constructed adjacent to the library when this is not in use for teaching. Look out for more information about this in due course. Students are also reminded that there is access to the Birkbeck wifi network throughout the library, but please do not use laptops and other devices in the Reading Room which is designated for silent study.

A final word of warning - if you do bring a laptop into the library please do not leave it unsecured. Sadly we do have the occasional theft of laptops. Treat yourself to a good lock, or simply carry it around with you.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

RFID and managing the library

Yesterday we looked at the use of the RFID tags and how they can make using our self-service units easier to use. Today we'll have a very quick look at how we are going to use RFID to improve our services. To be honest, this may not be most exciting feature on this blog but indulge us for a moment.

The RFID tags can be thought of as electronic barcodes, but of course these are barcodes that can be read without having to open the book. What this means for us is that we can scan items quickly and will be able to use RFID to issue and return items at the Issue Desk as well as in back office functions. Perhaps of more importance for our readers is that we have a Digital Library Assistant (or "wand", although as you can see, it looks actually nothing like a wand, or at least not one in the Harry Potter sense.) which can be used to scan the shelves and trolleys.

This will help with getting the shelves into order, and with finding mis-shelved items and also those that readers have reported missing or that have got back on to the shelves without being properly returned. Our use of this is very much at the experimental stage at the moment but this will undoubtedly have plenty of benefits as we discover more ways of using it. So if you see a member of library staff scanning the shelves with a device that looks like a gadget from Star Trek, you now know what they are doing! 

Tomorrow we'll see why this device might come in handy as we look at what we've done with the books this summer.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Self-service update

As promised here is the first item in a short series looking at some of the changes that took place over the summer.

The big project during July and August was the tagging of over a quarter of a million items with RFID tags. This was achieved ahead of schedule and brings several benefits to the library and its users. The most obvious to users is that it makes issuing and returning items on the self-service units a great deal easier. All you need to do to borrow an item is scan the barcode on your ID card and, assuming that you haven't done something horrendous that blocks you from using the library, place each item in turn in the V shaped slot and remove it when instructed. When you have done all your items choose to print your receipt, or go the green route and have it emailed to the address we have for you. Returning items is even easier as you don't need to scan your barcode, just choose the "Return" option and then place each book in the slot and then in the bin. Collect your receipt and you are done.

You can also use the self-service units to check what you have on loan and to renew items using the touch screen. The process is very straightforward and there are clear instructions.

An additional feature, and one that we hope you won't need to use very often, is the fines payments process. If you owe a fine this will be displayed as you scan your library barcode. You can pay by cash or by debit/credit card depending on which machine you use. The process is very simple and you get a receipt. The fine is taken from your library record immediately. If you pay by cash you can pay as much or as little as you wish. If you choose to pay by card it will take the full amount. Remember that if you owe more than £25 you won't be able to borrow anything until the level is reduced. However, do remember that we email you before your books are due back so please get in the habit of clicking on the link in the email and renewing your books to avoid the risk of a fine.Either that or write a big sign to remind you to return your library books and stick it on the fridge!

Tomorrow we'll have a quick look at what else the RFID project brings to the Library.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Another new academic year

Well here we are again, another academic year is rapidly approaching, and for some it has already started. As usual at this time of year we welcome our new students and welcome back those of you who are returning for more! There have been a few changes and developments throughout the summer so over the next few days we'll be looking at some of these in a bit more detail.

One thing to note is that today the Library Seminar Room reopened with 30 Windows 7 PCs. It has also had a makeover in terms of furniture along with a coat of paint and a new carpet. regretably due to space constraints we have loss the use of Room 402 on the top floor of the library but we will be getting some new PCs in the Open Area and there will be access from the library to the new large IT lab when it is not being used for teaching.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

RFID tagging completed

Following on from our previous updates we are pleased to say that the process of taggung the library's stock with RFID tags has been completed, over a week ahead of schedule. There should now be a lot less noise in the library, but we will be embarking on a move around of books to try to get the overflow items on to the shelves so there will be some disturbance.

The completion of the tagging means that all items can now be issued on the Self Service units without having to scan the barcode - see this recent post for details. We are busy trying to identify those items that may have escaped being tagged but it looks like these are few and far between.

We would like to say thank you to our readers for coping with the disturbance over the past few weeks.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Self service made simple

It was tempting to entitle this post "Purple spot? In the slot!" but this should be the one and only time this catchy slogan will be seen in public.

One of the purposes of putting an RFID tag in each of our books and DVDs is to simplify the process of issuing and returning via the self service workstations. With the taggers now working on Level 3 we have reached the point where the majority of items are now tagged so the images on the workstation screens have been changed to reflect the fact that borrowers no longer need to find and scan the library barcode for items being borrowed or returned.

If the item has a purple spot on it all you need to do is place it in the V-slot on the workstation and remove it when prompted. Please only place one item in the slot at a time. Items that do not have a purple sot or that are not detected can still be borrowed or returned by scanning the barcode. In particular items that have been on loan for the past few weeks may have escaped being tagged and will need to have their barcodes read. We will catch and tag those on their return.

Library cards still need to be scanned as usual when borrowing or when checking your account in order to renew items or pay fines.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

RFID Poject update

The RFID taggers are making good progress and have nearly completed tagging the books on the Torrington Square side of Level 1 of the library. They are now moving on to the books on the Malet Street side of Level 1 - i.e. those with classmarks from around 340 - 780. They will be based at the far end of the Open IT Area and inevitably there will be some disruption there.

One of the benefits of RFID tagging the books is that it makes using the self service machines easier. Instead of having to locate and scan an item's barcode you can simply place each item in turn in the V slot and wait for it to be issued, or returned. The workstations are already configured to do this so if you are borrowing a book which has already been tagged (indicated by a purple spot on the spine of the book) you can try this out. The images on the workstation will be changed when the tagging is completed.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

This week's Saturday workshop

There are still places available on this week's Saturday workshop - Image databases and archives for History of Art. If you would like to book a place, please go to

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Tagging work in the Library

From 20th June to 26th August for a period of 10 weeks there will be a team of people in the library putting RFID tags into books. The purpose of this is to make using the self-service machines easier for issuing and return.

The team will be moving from section to section in the Library and when they are working on a section of books, that section will not be available for use. If you need books from that section you will need to speak to staff at the Help Desk or Issue Desk who will retrieve the books for you . Unfortunately, you will not be able to browse along the shelves in a section where the team are working.

We hope to keep disruption to a minimum, but we apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Get the most out of JSTOR and PAO

This Saturday's Library workshop is "Getting the most out of JSTOR and PAO (Periodicals Archive Online)". This session is an introduction to the advanced features of these two multidisciplinary databases. It will be held in the Library seminar room, starting at 11am and will last approx. 1hr 30 mins. There are still a few places left on this workshop - to book, please go to

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Workshop on finding newspaper articles

This Saturday's Library workshop is on using newspaper databases. Find out how to access current and historical newspapers using a variety of online databases including Nexis UK and Nineteenth Century British Library Newspapers.

This session starts at 11am and will last approx. 1hr.
To book a place go to

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Saturday workshops - still places available

There are still places available for this Saturday's (May 28th) Library workshop - Keeping up to date using Current Awareness services. This session is particularly useful for Masters and PhD students.
Current awareness services can help you to keep up-to-date by providing details of new books, journal articles and conference papers that have been published in your research area. We'll look at the British Library's ZETOC service as well as offerings from publishers and other organisations.This session is 1 hr long and starts at 11am. It will be held in the Library Seminar Room on Level 1 of the Library.

If you would like to book, please use the online booking form at

Other Saturday workshops this term are:

June 4th Using newspaper databases. 1hr
June 11th Getting the most out of JSTOR and PAO. 1hr 30 mins
June 18th Managing your references with EndNote and EndNote Web 1hr 30 mins
June 25th History of Art resources: Image Databases and Archives 1hr 30 mins
July 9th Using the Citation Indexes (advanced) 1hr 30 mins

To book for any of these, or to see more information, please use the online booking form at

Friday, 20 May 2011

New design for library bags

Having sold out of our original cotton library bags we have a new supply in with a new look. These are now on sale for £1.50 at the library Issue Desk and will make a very handy addition to your holiday packing once the exams are over.

You will also come across this logo on our self-service reciepts, and we will have more about self-service developments soon.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Library and IT Services survey 2011

Our annual survey of what our users think about the library and its services is now available and we would be grateful if as many Birkbeck students as possible could fill it in. This year we are running a joint survey with our colleagues in IT Services and as an incentive there is the opportunity to win one of three John Lewis vouchers (£100, £50 & £25). The results of the survey will be used to plan future improvements in our services and to try to address any shortcomings.

You can find the survey at:

If you want to see what the 2010 survey revealed you can find a report on this page:

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Library Saturday workshops this term

The Library is running the following workshops during the Summer term on Saturdays at 11am in the Seminar Room on Level 1 of the Library.

May 28th: Keeping up-to-date with current awareness services. 1hr
June 4th: Using newspaper databases. 1hr
June 11th: Getting the most out of JSTOR and PAO. 1hr 30 mins
June 18th: Managing your references with EndNote and EndNote Web 1hr 30 mins
June 25th: History of Art resources: Image Databases and Archives 1hr 30 mins
July 9th: Using the Citation Indexes 1hr 30 mins

For more information and to book see

Friday, 8 April 2011

Easter vacation hours and loans

Judging by the weather over the past few days in Bloomsbury it looks like Spring has definitely sprung in time for the Easter vacation. The library is open throughout the holidays, including all of the various Bank Holidays and Royal Wedding days, but will as usual be closed for the Easter weekend itself (Friday 22nd - Monday 25th). There are also some changes to hours on the public holidays. You can find all the times on our website at: and you can pick up leaflets in the library.

Please note that we are issuing all items as usual throughout the vacation so if you are going to be away please make sure that any items you have on loan are up to date before you go. You will not be able to renew items if they have been requested by another reader. If you do have access to the Internet whilst you are away you can of course renew items online, just make sure that you have the barcode number on your college ID card to hand. We also include this in any emails we send you about items on loan.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Saturday Workshops

Our programme of Saturday workshops has now finished for this term and we are starting to plan future sessions.

This term we ran workshops on:
-Using Ejournals
-Using JSTOR and PAO
-Searching the Psychology literature
-Resources for Art History
-Using the Citation Indexes
-Introduction to EndNote Web

What workshops would you like to see the Library run in future? Your feedback will be much appreciated. If you would rather not reply on the blog, please email Thank you.

Friday, 4 March 2011

Self-service update v2

A brief post to announce that we have rolled out the new features, mentioned previously, to the self-service workstations on the ground floor of the library. In addition the welcome screen on these machines has been changed to give a clear choice between returning items and those funactions, such as issuing or renewing, where you will need to use your ID card.

We hope you find these features useful, please let us know if you have any comments on this by talking to a member of staff or by filling in a suggestions form online, or in the library.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Self-service update

As part of an upgrade to our self service workstations which involved a software update we are able to offer some new features. We have implemented some of these on the self service workstation on Level 1, and would be interested to hear what you think of them.

The basic operation of issuing a book to yourself is unaffected. However, you can now opt to have the receipt emailed to you as well as printing it out and you can also print out a brief summary of your account showing how many items you have out and if you owe us any fines. Again this can be emailed to the email address we have on record for you.

It is now possible to renew books that you have out without having them present. As usual if a book is requested by another reader you won't be able to renew it. One other new feature is that the due date of any issued book is shown on the screen until the issuing process is completed.

If you use any of these new features please let us know what you think. There are feedback forms at the Library Help Desk. We would be very interested in any comments you may have on the messages and instructions you see on the screen.

During the next couple of months we will be introducing the ability to pay fines at the self-service workstations, although we would much prefer it if you didn't end up paying fines, and over the summer we will be making it much easier to borrow using the workstations by removing the need to scan the barcodes on the books.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Some places left for this Saturday's workshops

There are still some places left for this Saturday's workshops on using JSTOR and PAO (Periodicals Archive Online). These multidisciplinary databases are useful for a wide range of subjects, especially in the social sciences and humanities - if you are not sure if they are useful for your subject have a look at the descriptions on the database pages for JSTOR and PAO.

The morning session (11.30am) is nearly full, but there are still places left for the afternoon session (2pm). To book please go to

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Still places left for Saturday's workshops

There are still some places left for this Saturday's Library workshops on using ejournals - to book a place please go to

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Card readers for the copiers

After a long wait we are pleased to say that our copier-printers now have proximity card readers attached so that the majority of our users will no longer have to enter a username and password on the touchscreen when using a copier. The reader recognises your student, or staff, card and logs you in automatically. On the black & white copiers the reader is on the right side of the copier, and on the colour copiers it is under the top panel.

Black & white copier with reader

Colour copier with reader

There is still a delay in getting the number on any new card linked to your print accout so if you find that your card isn't recognised you will still have to log in until the database updates. Our colleagues in IT Services are working on this now that the readers are in place. Visitors, and other users without a Birkbeck card, will still need to obtain a visitor account and password from the library Help Desk and login manually.

New posters showing how the new process works are being designed and should be up soon.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Library Saturday workshops this term

Come and find out how to get the most out of the online resources that the Library offers by attending a Saturday workshop. The workshops will last about 1.5 hours and will include some hands-on practice.

Saturday workshops we are running this term are:

Introduction to ejournals - Jan 29th
Getting the most out of JSTOR and PAO - Feb 5th
Searching the Psychology literature - Feb 12th
Resources for Art History - Feb 19th
Using the Citation Indexes - Feb 26th
Introduction to Endnote Web - Mar 5th

For more details and to book, go to