Students working in the Library Cafe

"The project has given us the space to think and reflect on our practice. It has also been a great opportunity to work with staff from libraries across all of the campuses." Andrew Preater, Head of Library Information Systems


Imperial College London has libraries across 7 campuses, supports all academic departments and a range of other learning activities. One of the essential services offered as part of this is the Document Delivery Service which enables staff and students to request specific publications from any university library. Further information about the service is available on the Library website.


  • Develop a single request process to reduce the need for multiple data entry by users
  • Give access to all users and library staff to see requests made
  • Simplify the system for users requesting documents in Library Search
  • Improve the tracking of requests and provide the ability to review request status
  • Develop analytics to enable library staff to provide estimates of delivery time
  • Free up staff time to dedicate to specialist aspects of Document Delivery, such as support for systematic reviews in Medicine


After a process review by library staff and consultation with staff and students, the potential changes were prioritised into short and longer term. Implemented changes so far include: 

  • Addition of a Document Delivery tab on Library Search with clearer information which provides a single entry point for users
  • Removal of the user registration process and a simplified, clear policy regarding request allowances
  • Improvements to processes to speed up requesting via our main supplier, the British Library
  • Users and library staff can clearly view each request and amend it through an enhanced database


Following implementation we measured the success of the process review. Reflecting the improved ease of use of the Document Delivery Service, in 2015 we are handling a significantly increased number of requests, particularly for electronic items (up 83% on the equivalent period ahead of process review). Simultaneously we are providing significantly faster delivery times for those items (mean delivery time reduced from 7.4 days to 5.9 days after process review).

Library Services is focusing on continuous improvement of Document Delivery and has established a group to:

  • Monitor longer-term changes to Document Delivery usage and ensure the service continues to meet user needs
  • Further review and improve user experience of Library Search to smooth routes for requesting items using Document Delivery

Contact: Stuart Dempster