Leicestershire County Council
When you exist to simply but emphatically make it easy for teachers to teach, you need a system that will fulfil that promise in every way. Accessit Library was that system. Brian Kennedy, Manager of Creative Learning Services at the Leicestershire County Council, couldn’t be happier with the results.
Making it easy for teachers to teach
Leicestershire County Council had a goal to fulfil their customer service promise of making it easy for teachers to teach. Their Manager of Creative Learning Services, Brian Kennedy says Accessit Library made this possible in every way. Since choosing Accessit six years ago, they haven’t looked back, going from strength to strength in every way.
Creative Learning Services is a specialist school library service located at the Leicestershire County Council in the United Kingdom. The service uses Accessit to manage the learning resources and professional development needs of 160 schools across Leicestershire City and Leicestershire County, by providing an extensive range of school library services and curriculum solutions for teachers.
The changing library environment
In recent years, the traditional model in England of local authorities funding and managing schools in their area has undergone a transformation. Today many schools are independent academies funded directly through central government. These new academies have greater freedom to set their own policies, follow their own curricula and manage their own budgets.
At the same time, in many instances, funding for school libraries has come under increased pressures, especially when set against other school priorities. In response, some schools are choosing to no longer employ a librarian or choosing to reduce their investment in book stocks.
Brian Kennedy says, “We have adapted to this changing environment by maintaining close relationships with the new academies alongside our traditional base of local authority schools. And in both cases we have responded to the individual needs of our customer schools. Part of the continuing success of Creative Learning Services has been to recognize the very real challenges that schools and teachers face and to develop innovative service solutions focused on great customer care and value for money.”
Creative Learning Services provides three distinct services to primary, secondary and specialist schools.
1) Loan services (resources that include books, original artworks and artefacts)
2) In-classroom services (delivery of a range of workshop sessions tailored to the needs of a school and the ability level of its students)
3) Professional services (professional development, advice, librarian support etc.). These services are offered as bundled packages that enable schools to buy what best fits their particular requirements and budget, thereby avoiding paying for services they don’t need.
At their core, Creative Learning Services wants ‘to make it easy for teachers to teach’ by enabling them to quickly and easily obtain the curriculum-based materials they need for their students.
The service delivery challenge
Six years ago, Creative Learning Services were faced with a challenge. How to deliver a service for teachers from around 160 individual schools to easily, quickly and efficiently get the things they needed for their school?
“Up until that point, we relied heavily on a centrally based showroom that teachers visited to select their books and projects. This required the showroom to be stocked and staffed to manage those visits from schools. For the staff, this meant a lot of time spent advising and assisting customers in their choices and issuing and returning books within the narrow time slot within which teachers could visit – usually after school had finished for the day. In terms of the visiting teachers and school librarians, the customer experience was time consuming and laborious,” says Brian.
Creative Learning Services’ vision was to transform the service. They wanted teachers to have the flexibility to choose and book their resources online remotely without having to leave the classroom.
Accessit helped us fulfil the promise
After an extensive search, Accessit Library was identified as one of a very small group of software systems that could meet their requirements. Accessit was chosen over more traditional library management systems on the basis of best fit against requirements. Specifically, the strength of the software to deal with schools combined with its flexibility were key elements in choosing Accessit.
Today, the service strongly delivers on its promise of making it easy for teachers to teach.
Accessit Library provides teachers with a user interface that is very easy to use and a positive customer experience. Brian says, “We very rarely get any difficulties from our customers, who on the whole find Accessit very easy to use.”
“Accessit gives us the flexibility to show the catalogue in an attractive and engaging manner across the range of schools. It has extremely good search functionality, and its ‘quick list’ functionality allows easy profiling of things like the latest award-winning books effortlessly. We also like the ability to tailor the look of the catalogue pages to mirror the branding of Creative Learning Services and to integrate the catalogue into our own website,” says Brian.
A strong partnership
Over the six years Creative Learning Services have been with Accessit, they have come to appreciate the partnership and support that has been provided.
“As with any new software contract, we were keen to ensure we received prompt, high-quality technical assistance and advice. This is where the relationship with Accessit has proved very strong. The software itself was only part of the solution we were seeking. Even more important to us was how well the Accessit team responded to our problems and queries. Essentially what we needed was a company we could trust to help us deliver our promise to our customers, and we got that with Accessit,” says Brian.
Creative Learning Services is one of the few school library services increasing its income significantly from year to year. They attribute this to good business decisions made regarding their operating model, coupled with their strong service delivery made possible with Accessit Library.
Overall, Creative Learning Services at the Leicestershire County Council have been very satisfied with the value and support they’ve received from Accessit. Brian says, “Accessit Library has served us incredibly well over the past six years and helped us expand both our services and our customer base.”