Preparation and Design

Welcome Week is here, with the injection of new and returning students across the campus creating a fantastic atmosphere. I have already received great offers for many of the local food outlets along Oxford Road and nearly got absorbed into a pop-up salsa dancing lesson next to the Students’ Union.

This week began with a meeting in the Maps Office at the Main Library. Having been a very ‘outdoors’ kind of boy in my youth (Sea Cadets, Marine Cadets, camping, fishing etc.), and after years of hiking and having led walking groups across many rural areas of Great Britain, I felt very at home surrounded by maps. However, the meeting wasn’t to do with my love of maps and geography but rather to talk with Donna Sherman (Special Collections Librarian, Maps Collection) and Adam Cooper (Communications Officer) about working with a group of third year students from the Manchester School of Architecture to get their insight on library design. We are developing ideas for this session, discussing the challenges that face the Main Library Redevelopment, along with a wider discussion about library design, followed by a visit to The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons. This kind of engagement is really important for the project and I can’t wait to meet the group.

The Alan Gilbert Learning Commons

In order to better understand how the Main Library Redevelopment can be delivered effectively whilst minimising disruption to Library customers, I have spent a considerable amount of time analysing historical data on Main Library usage. This data includes footfall, study seat headcounts, book machine use, issues/returns, and quick enquiries. In plotting this usage on a weekly basis against key dates, such as exam periods and semester start and end dates, it confirms much of what we already know and experience each year; the peak and troughs created by the flow of customers against the academic cycle. From this, it’s possible to forecast usage against future periods based on empirical evidence.

A number of Redevelopment Champions visited the trial furniture space in the Joule Library for the first time this week; it was very useful to get their opinions on the work done so far. We wanted to make sure that the information and guidance signs developed by Adam Cooper and the marketing team will cover all queries. Monitors, mice and keyboards have been added to the desks and the display will soon be ready for any staff to visit and feedback their thoughts.

Considerable time is now being invested into the preparation for the stock decant and phasing of staff, stock and services as we gear up for the start of construction next summer. The stock management team is making fantastic progress in analysing and collating information about the book stock whilst developing plans in order to clear the relevant areas of the building for construction.

I met with Dominic Hunt (Strategic Projects Manager) to discuss the links the Main Library Redevelopment has with the various strategic projects that are under way. One of these strategic projects is the Document Management Collaboration Project being led by Karen Veitch (IT Support Manager). We discussed how aspects of the redevelopment, as well as the stock decant required for preparation of Phase 1 construction, are linked with Karen’s project, particularly in relation to managing physical material. We also talked about the Risk Register and Risk Management Strategy that was created for the Main Library Redevelopment in preparation for the Risk Review Meeting that took place on Friday with Simon Bains (Head of Research Services and Deputy Librarian).

Whilst all of our students will be out and about this weekend, getting involved with everything across campus as part of their welcome to the University and exploring our city, I’ll be having a more relaxed time at home. The Rugby World Cup begins on Friday when England will play Fiji at Twickenham, Doctor Who (season 9) starts on Saturday, and the Singapore Grand Prix will take place across the weekend.


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