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Reflections on the FutureLib Intraloans Trial

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This post was written by Meghanne Flynn, PhD student at the Faculty of Education and member of the library team. 

It’s over, it’s over, it’s all over!

The UL Intraloan Trial has now ended and the Library Team would like to thank everyone who participated and expressed enthusiasm for the project. It was a bit of a wild time here in the Education Faculty Library: fielding requests, transporting books, and making sure everyone had the best access to the best information we could provide! It may be some time before we fully understand all of the data generated through this trial, but here are some initial things we learned:

The majority of people who used the service were full-time post-graduate students

This was a surprise. Part of our initial enthusiasm for the trial was the hope that it would make more material available for part-time, distance and PGCE students who have limited time in the Faculty or in Cambridge at all.  However, very few students within these categories made use of the trial – possibly due to the short time-frame or possibly because we have everything they need in the Education Library!

The people who did use it used it repeatedly

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Looking just at the number of requests, it seems like a lot of people used the service. However, it turns out that the majority of requests were repeat borrowers.  Across the entire Intraloan trial—not just in the Faculty—5 people were responsible for 20% of the requests!  In the Education Faculty 142 requests were made by 65 different people.

Most of the requests were for books outside the field of Education

Of the book requests that we received, most were for texts which were outside the area of Education.  Many were also older texts and there were even a couple of foreign-language journal articles! (Reading the titles sparked the Library Team’s imaginations, so thank you!).  It was gratifying to us that there were few books requested where we thought, “Oh, we should really have that.” In the few cases that we did, we ended up purchasing the book/ebook to be able to provide it for all Education Staff & students.

Remember that if we don’t have the book you need, do ask us if we can get it. It’s not always possible, but input and requests from staff & students are an essential part of building our collection (and we will even consider non-education purchases if they’re available as an ebook!)

Even librarians at the UL sometimes can’t find books at the UL

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One of the comments we hear quite a lot is how dispiriting it can be to go to the UL because it is so hard to navigate. It was amazing then, that some of the books requested actually couldn’t be located by UL staff! You’re not alone. The UL can be a dark and twisty cave of mystery. But if you have to go, remember that even people who work there have trouble. Who said education wasn’t an adventure?

Student engagement is (still) a top priority for us!

During this trial it was just as important for us to know why someone wanted to borrow a book as to know what it was they wanted to borrow. This might seem excessive—just hand over the book, right? But the more knowledge we have about your academic needs, the more we are able to help you. For example, some students requested books not knowing that we already had copies on the shelf in the Education Library, or in ebook format. This brought to our attention some serious problems people are having searching iDiscover, and we developed new search guides to help (available on the Library Moodle Site).

This trial generated a lot of data which we are continuing to explore with the UL and in due course the FutureLib team will produce a full report. It may be that there are more trials in the future! However, for any future projects, the Education Library Team’s objective is that nothing can be implemented that will compromise the current range of services that we offer.

Our goal is to supply all that you need for your education studies and if you need help accessing materials, or understanding the tailored services we offer, text us, email, phone, or just come in for a chat.

We may not have every book (yet), but we usually have candy.

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