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Annual Report 2019–20

The report demonstrates the Library’s achievements and celebrates staff resilience and flexibility in overcoming the challenges of a difficult year.

The online annual report reflects on the Library’s contribution to learning, research and community engagement, through video conversations with the staff involved.

In her final year as University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, Dr Stella Butler said:

I would like to pay tribute to all library staff who coped with the challenges of this extraordinary year with good humour, patience and their customary professionalism.

“Although 2019–20 divided into two very distinct periods, there were nevertheless many continuities. We have long delivered information resources digitally… The Library will continue to be a blend of physical and digital services, but the increasing emphasis will undoubtedly be on the latter.”

“I have heard many expressions of thanks for the efforts library staff have put in to ensure access to the best possible resources and support for both learning and research throughout the academic session.”

We launched a new academic skills resource, Step up to Masters, to support the transition to postgraduate study. The resource was created with extensive student and staff input, to complement departments’ own induction programmes. Step up to Masters won the prestigious Digital Award for Information Literacy, which recognises innovative and high impact digital resources in the UK.

Throughout the year, we continued work to improve the visibility of the University’s research. This included: our bibliometric service offered advice and insight to our faculties and schools; ORCIDs are now required for all researchers, making sure that all research outputs are correctly attributed; the White Rose Research Online repository now allows researchers to request copies of articles directly from Leeds authors, removing research barriers and increasing author reach.

Our partnerships across the University and beyond bore fruit this year. We had a second consecutive successful bid with The National Archives and Research Libraries UK, who awarded one of our Special Collections Archivists with a Professional Digital Fellowship. We received a generous bequest from the John Bedford Will Trust that will enable new facilities and research into the Bedford Collection of furniture history.

The latter part of the year was dominated by our response to the pandemic. With buildings closed, teaching online and staff working from home, we responded dynamically and flexibly, adapting our entire service.

We increased our ebook collections by upgrading existing online access and working with suppliers to provide access to over 250 core etextbooks. Our enquiries service supported users online during the closure, and we were among the first back on campus when we reopened for click and collect in August.

We rapidly made the digital shift to online learning. We moved all our academic skills and researcher workshops and one-to-one support online. Our Learning Services team also played a key role in supporting students with the pivot to online learning. We created new online learning resources, including the Becoming an Online Learner and Online Open Book Exam resources.

Just as our Galleries achieved VisitEngland’s visitor attraction accreditation, our physical exhibition space had to close, so we moved online. The Lessons in the Studio: Studio in the Seminar exhibition was shared through Google Arts and Culture, along with other online exclusive exhibitions. We made art and culture publicly available digitally in innovative ways, including online events and digital collection jigsaws, with great success.

View the Annual Report online.