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Putting readers at the centre of The John Rylands Library service

21 Aug 2013

Thanks to a process review conducted with the Change Management and Process Improvement (CMPI) team, Reader Services staff are now able to provide faster access to items from the Special Collections and to spend more time sharing their expertise with researchers.

John Rylands Library customer

The Special Collections of the University, held at the John Rylands Library, Deansgate, contain some of the world’s most significant rare books, maps, manuscripts, archives, and collections of visual culture.

It is an important part of the Library’s strategy to make these rich and unique resources as accessible as possible – both to the scholarly community and the wider public.

As part of a wider drive to modernise its Reader Services and improve the customer experience, the Library asked CMPI to undertake a review of its current processes, with the aim of freeing up staff time and allowing a faster response to customer requests.

Rebekah Lunt, Special Collections Reader Services Co-ordinator, explained: “One of the goals we were keen to achieve through the review was to give our researchers access to the collections as quickly as possible and to allow them to spend time benefitting from the expertise of the Reader Services staff. Now that we have streamlined our administrative processes, our staff are actively engaging with our customers to make sure they are connected to the objects of their study and that they can benefit fully from our knowledge and expertise.”

One recent visitor was quickly reunited with a 15th century illuminated manuscript prayer book (pictured above) once owned by Mary, Queen of Scots, which she had first seen during a school visit in 1942. After visiting The John Rylands Library earlier this summer to fulfill a long-held wish to research this iconic object, she wrote: “Words cannot express my amazement, joy and gratitude, not only at being allowed to see the treasured Book of Hours, but also for the personal help, guidance and tuition given throughout the request and inspection of this historic and beautiful manuscript."

To find out more about the review and its outcome, read the full project case study online at:

How the CMPI could help you

The provision of lean and effective processes which meet the expectations of staff, students and partners is one of the University’s enabling strategies for achieving its key operational priorities and the 2020 Agenda.

Set up in 2012 to support that strategy, the CMPI team has already worked with many units around the University to help them provide high quality services based on processes which are effective, efficient and more ‘customer’ focused. Process improvement can also help to reduce frustrations for staff and enhance their job satisfaction.

For full information about the services offered by CMPI and contact details for the team, visit: