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Click and Collect service

Rows of bookshelves at Camberwell library
Rows of bookshelves at Camberwell library
Rows of bookshelves at Camberwell library
Written by
Rowan Williamson
Published date
03 November 2020

Why are the libraries using Click and Collect?

We have had a lot of questions about the new Click and Collect service and so here we look at what it is and why you need it.

Why is it called Click and Collect?

Click and Collect is our new library borrowing service, but some of you will recognise this as our usual reservations service. So why is it now called Click and Collect?

One reason is that it’s not quite the same as it was. Whilst you could always reserve a book if it was at another library or on loan to someone else, it was usually easier and quicker to pop in and get it yourself if it was already on the shelf at your library. Unfortunately, it’s no longer possible to go to the shelves to browse and collect your own items in the libraries, so ordering online is now essential. On the up side you don’t need to worry about checking where the book is held or whether it is available, you can just order it by placing a reservation on the Library Search page. We are pre-issuing the items to your account ready for collection so you don’t need to come and borrow on the self service machines either. So the new name is to reflect the idea that it’s not just keeping books aside for you anymore. We are fulfilling your online orders and getting them ready for you to come and collect when ready. You don’t need to do a thing!

Why can’t I get my own books from the shelves?

I am sure you are aware that guidance for libraries includes social distancing and quarantine, but lots of you have asked us why this means you cannot browse the shelves like you can in shops or even some other libraries. The answer is that the guidance does not set out clear cut rules for what libraries can and cannot offer.

Our decision on browsing is based on the risk assessments we have done covering a whole range of factors we have to consider under the guidance. The more people who handle the items the higher the risk of transferring the virus, so all our efforts are about minimising handling, and ensuring that if items are handled it's using clear hygiene protocols and protective equipment (like gloves and masks). As books cannot be easily cleaned they need to be quarantined for 72 hours under the government guidance. This requires a huge amount of space for storage, and of course it takes items out of circulation for 3 whole days before anyone else can have them, so browsing would have a significant impact on stock that was handled but not borrowed being unavailable. Similarly many of our libraries just don’t have the space for us to design ways to access the shelves that include social distancing requirements for all our shelvers, librarians picking the click and collect items and students browsing as well. Some libraries have tackled these problems as they have space to manage one way systems, or take advantage of wide shelving aisles to allow for safe access. Some have set up booked slots for browsing, and most are quarantining all stock that has been handled by browsing. These are all options we are keeping under review for our libraries, but we have not yet been able to find ways to implement them.

We recognise how much you value this access to our stock and will continue to work towards making more available in future when we can ensure that it is safe for everyone.

What about items that cannot be borrowed?

Reference items like journals and special collection items present different challenges for libraries. Due to social distancing you have to have a booking to study in our spaces, so this provides limited opportunity to view these items. It’s also not possible to reserve these items on Library Search at present. With more than 5000 items being ordered a week, staff are already very busy and additional fetching services are hard to resource. Many reference items will be available online however, so try Articles Plus on Library Search for journal articles - check our guide to using the online library. We are actively reviewing our collections to find ways to make more material available to you in a safe and sustainable way, so watch out for updates on the Library Services webpages and Twitter accounts.

How does Click and Collect work?

You can order items on Library search: log in, search and reserve.

If you are new to Library Search then you can watch our video showing you how to do it.

We find the items you request on our shelves and you pick them up in your college library. They are issued to you in advance, and we email you when ready to collect. As you're only on campus twice a week we'll keep them for 2 weeks for you to make sure you have an opportunity to get them when you are on site.  When you come into the library please follow the social distancing guidelines and make sure you sanitise your hands before you collect your items. We ask that you leave the library promptly once you have collected items if you don’t have a booking for a study space. All returned items are quarantined for 72 hours before they are removed from your library account, but this won’t affect your ability to keep ordering more items for collection. We are not charging fines, so there is no need to worry about items you have already returned. At busy times you may have to queue to come into the library so it may be quicker for you to collect your loans if you avoid just before or after class, and over lunchtime.

What if I can’t come in to collect items?

If you are isolating and cannot collect items it is still possible to access our extensive online collections. If you need support finding online materials please check our guide to using the online library or contact Your Librarian. You can also request the library buys items, including ebooks if they are available, by logging into your account in  Library Search and filling in a ‘new item suggestion’. You can order online journal articles using the interlibrary loan service, also available via your library account.

For more information on our services please see our Big Welcome guide which also includes a quick video about all our services.

For library updates follow us on Twitter or check the Library Services website.

Any other questions? Check our FAQs or contact us via Ask.

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