UCL and IET join forces to boost academic innovation

University College London (UCL) is a public research university, and the oldest and largest college of the University of London.

The university has around 4,000 academic and research staff and 650 professors, the highest number of any British university. As one of the world’s leading academic institutions, UCL’s library system forms the foundations for the university’s research. Constituting of 16 libraries located across several sites, the library network contains over 1.5 million books and serves approximately 29,000 university staff and students. The largest libraries are the UCL Main Library and the UCL Science Library, which contains collections relating to anthropology, engineering, geography, life sciences, management and the mathematical and physical sciences.

With 200 library staff working to provide the best possible service to the university, there is pressure to keep up with demand, ensure all researchers are getting the best experience at the library and, ultimately, to aid them in their studies. Not only does the library provide paper-based resources, it also offers online resource such as journals and multimedia content. Maintaining fast, seamless access to all this material whether off or online is a constant challenge for library staff.  

As the academic community has become more internet-focused over the past decade, and more accustomed to being able to access largely unlimited content online, demand for fast, efficient searching of research archives was growing. In addition, researchers required more specific search functionality – giving them the ability to more quickly identify journals that may be relevant to their own studies.

Ruth Russell, Subject Librarian, Science Team, UCL explains: “As with many educational institutions, we are balancing budgetary considerations with providing the best possible service to library users. To meet the research needs of our students and researchers, we had previously made Inspec, the IET’s research database, available through via Engineering Village, a UK-wide information platform for the engineering community. However it was clear to us that a more cost-efficient way of offering the Inspec database was to do so directly.”

Providing unlimited intelligence

The IET’s Inspec database provides quick access to research journals and books in the areas of engineering and technology. The database contains 13 million abstract and indexing references to journal articles, conference proceedings, technical reports and other literature in the fields of science and technology. Inspec’s search function means researchers can access papers related to their specific subject, improving their own productivity and potentially helping them break new ground in their field.

In addition, to ensure researchers were guaranteed access to all IET archived content, UCL also invested in the IET Digital Library which offers full access to the IET’s portfolio of research and letters journals and monographs in electronics, electrical engineering and related subjects. It also offers access to multimedia content such as videos, podcasts and e-journals.  

“To help us guarantee fast access and subject-specific search, Inspec and the IET Digital Library was the clear choice for us,” added Russell. “We as a library, and our students and researchers, had experience in using Inspec so we knew there would be no problem educating people in how to use the service. The IET journals archive provides access to material in a convenient and seamless way via an easy to use interface. It’s this kind of instant access that can aid researchers as they write their papers – having all of the IET’s content at hand is great benefit.”

Fast, unlimited access to world-leading research

Since investing in the IET’s services, the library has experienced a number of benefits that have positively impacted UCL library staff and the researchers they are serving.

IET Inspec provides a high quality index for engineering and technology subjects, an important aspect for UCL’s electrical & electronic engineering community in particular. This improves the search function and ultimately the ability of researchers to access the best and most relevant content quickly and easily. This has the potential to aid innovation and discovery within research, enabling academics to find archived journals which may otherwise have been inaccessible, or at least very time-consuming to locate.

The IET Digital Library has also proved an invaluable resource for access to the IET’s vast journal archives and to its ever increasing amount of multimedia content.

“The IET Digital Library services have begun to benefit the library. In having this intelligence available online and on very searchable and digestible platform, we’ve been able to free up space by moving paper copies of journals offsite,” added Russell.

“In addition, Inspec allows for very structured searching of literature and data which we hope will help our library users as they research.”