Saving time for librarians by improving workflows
Named the ‘number one university in England for teaching quality’ according to The Good University Guide 2022, Plymouth Marjon University has almost 3,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students, specialising in the fields of sports and exercise, teaching, health and wellbeing, social sciences, business and the performing arts. Taking inspiration from their founders, one of the university’s key focuses was innovation – finding newer and better ways of doing things – and they recently chose KeyLinks as their reading list management solution (RLMS).
The university’s previous reading list system was paper-based, and very dependent on document sharing. Advocacy and tracking of lists occupied a large amount of Liaison Librarian time, and relied on an annual reading list cycle for each of their three semesters. Kerry Kellaway, Head of Library Services at Plymouth Marjon, said that although their previous system worked well, “that was a lot of time we could have spent doing a lot of other things, rather than admin”. This prompted a long-term goal of obtaining reading list software to improve workflows and help free up their staff’s time.
The pandemic was a strong driving force behind this change as the university strove to ensure continued access to library content during the lockdowns and implement a sustainable, long-term solution for their academics.
This led to an agreement to introduce new library management software (LMS), the savings from which would then enable purchase of a new RLMS and provide a “one stop shop review of how we handle our resources”.
Choosing a system
Talking about their procurement process, Kerry highlighted that one of the major factors in the decision-making process was Marjon’s set of institutional values:
We are student-centred, making a difference to individuals and society. We create human connections and community.[…] Our staff know individual students here…we really do create connections with everybody who works were and everybody who studies here, and KeyLinks hit that. It was really hitting our values.
The university were looking for more than just a customer-supplier relationship; they wanted to be seen as a development partner. KeyLinks suited them by offering a more tailored service, working closely with customers to provide support and develop a bespoke and agile customer-focused roadmap, whilst offering real value for money. Kerry said:
For what we get, it’s an absolute steal…which made my managers really happy.
The implementation of KeyLinks was managed through weekly meetings with the Head of KeyLinks or the KeyLinks Customer Experience Manager, both of whom are experienced librarians. Kerry and her co-workers explained:
I think that’s a really important thing, having that knowledge behind it, and knowing that it’s librarians in conversation with librarians.
Liaison Librarians, project owners and other service stakeholders joined the meetings too and the level of communication helped things run smoothly.
It’s really refreshing to work with companies who understand customer needs…We’ve managed to create a good relationship which has put us in good stead for years to come.
The choices KeyLinks offers allows for workflows to be tailored to institutional need. For Plymouth Marjon, this meant retaining library control over final publication of their lists and using the system to highlight the value the library could offer its users.
Plymouth Marjon are coming to the end of their implementation of KeyLinks, . When asked about his hopes for the future of KeyLinks, Tom Nicholls, Liaison Librarian at the university, was excited about the possibilities the future could bring:
I think it’s that (the KeyLinks team are) so receptive to ideas, and that you open up those routes of communication, that’s why we’re really excited to see what’s going to be happening next. It feels like with KeyLinks the sky’s the limit – ‘What are they developing next, what are they going to pull out of the hat next time?
Kerry was also optimistic about the relationship:
Why not go to the source, to the people doing the job, [asking] what do you need practically? That’s just brilliant. And I think if you keep doing that you’ll always be in tune with the needs of your customers. I hope that as we grow, KeyLinks will grow alongside us