Essex Libraries

Improve request efficiency and communication with customers

Image of the Library Support Unit at Essex Libraries
© Essex County Council

"UnityUK gave us more control over the requests and made them easier to track."

Debra Carter
Library Service Team Assistant, Library Support Unit, Essex Libraries

Managing interlibrary loans was becoming problematic for Essex Libraries with a backlog of requests and insufficient feedback on what stage the requests were at. "We had recognized that the old system was not providing sufficient feedback. It was slow and not very user friendly. Our biggest challenge was to reduce our backlog of requests and to monitor them, their timing, availability and their stage in the ordering process," said Debra Carter, Library Service Team Assistant, Library Support Unit, Essex Libraries.

In 2010, Essex Libraries opted for UnityUK, which provides an integrated interlibrary loan workflow, making it easier for staff to track requests for customers and to offer an improved customer experience. "UnityUK® provided us with the ability to manage the workflow in a more structured manner, and we could communicate to our customers the stage their request was at," said Debra. There was also a significant decrease in the backlog and fewer requests getting "stuck" in the system, leading to a noticeable improvement in efficiency.

"Customers noticed that we were able to process their requests quicker, leading to a more efficient and speedy service."

As part of the implementation, Essex Libraries staff worked with OCLC product and support staff to provide feedback on their specific system needs and requirements and to prioritize the order of installation at their various locations. "This meant that we could concentrate on delivery, whilst OCLC provided the technical support," stated Debra. Staff also attended training sessions where they gained helpful hints and tips to make the switch a lot easier.

"Overall, the whole process was delivered smoothly. UnityUK has been continually upgraded with new features to improve both the operation of the system and user outcomes. The aim of any new software package should be to improve and enhance the service you give. I feel that we offer an efficient, professional service to our customers in Essex and our Unitary partners, and this has only been enhanced by using the UnityUK service," concluded Debra.

Services used by Essex Libraries



Map showing location of Essex Libraries

Library at a glance

  • Operates the Library Support Unit for Essex Libraries from Freebournes, Witham
  • Orders all new stock for Essex and Southend, and sources all interlibrary loans for Essex and both Unitary Authorities—Southend and Thurrock
  • Houses the Essex Performing Arts Service

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