WHELF access and borrowing schemes

The Walk-in Access Wales project was completed in March 2013 with the publication of the Walk-in Access Wales Toolkit.

For more information about access and borrowing schemes in WHELF institutions, please click here.


Walk-in Access Wales Toolkit

I am pleased to announce that the Walk-in Access Wales toolkit, funded by CyMAL: Museums Archives Libraries Wales, is now available to read, in English or Welsh, via the links below:

Walk-in Access Wales Toolkit

Pecyn Cymorth Mynediad Cerdded i Mewn Cymru

The toolkit has also been added to the blog on a separate page, entitled, “Walk-in Access Wales Toolkit“.

Thank you to all the steering group members for their contribution to the toolkit and to the project as a whole.

Bronwen Blatchford, Walk-in Access Wales Project Officer

The airy whiff of academia: Walk-in Access Wales event, 1st February


Over thirty librarians from public, further education, national and academic libraries and staff from JANET UK and CyMAL came together to discuss walk-in access to electronic resources at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Carmarthen campus on Friday 1st February. Our Walk-in Access Wales event featured presentations from Vicky Stallard of Cardiff University and Julie Neenan of Cardiff Metropolitan University about the walk-in access services already set up at these institutions. My own presentation covered the national context for walk-in access, licensing issues and progress of the Walk-in Access Wales project. I must apologise at this point that the original agenda did not *ahem* contain a deliberate mistake but incorrectly listed Cardiff University amongst the presentations twice. The correct agenda can be viewed here.

The presentations can be downloaded here:

Following the presentations, Vicky, Julie and I were joined by Helen Thomas, Central Services Librarian at CMU and Alison Harding, Campus Librarian (Carmarthen) at UWTSD and Walk-in Access Wales Project Manager for a panel session where we answered questions that arose from the presentations. There was a lively debate and a lot of input from delegates from across the various library sectors. Key points discussed were as follows:

  • Usage: a common concern amongst librarians in institutions which haven’t set up a walk-in access scheme is that demand for the service will be large and that this will jeopardise the service offered to registered, fee-paying students. Usage in all walk-in access services has been low, as evidenced by Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University’s presentations which should allay some fears. However, walk-in access research conducted by SCONUL, SCURL and SWRLS show that, while demand for walk-in access has been low, no walk-in access service has been actively promoted. The institutions which have launched a walk-in access service tend to bill the service as a ‘pilot’ or a ‘soft launch’, intended to gauge demand and to test the technical solution and operational procedure. The only real promotion of walk-in access services employed is to list them on library web pages. Some services are not listed at all on the library website and are only highlighted to non-registered library users who expressly ask whether they are permitted to access the electronic resources. Walk-in Access Wales is publicly (CyMAL) funded and one of the intended outcomes of the project is to promote walk-in access services to the public, hence we are obliged to take the leap and promote Welsh walk-in access services. It was stressed, however, that, as per all library services, walk-in access services should be periodically reviewed and if, after promoting them more heavily, the demand is affecting registered students’ access, the services can be restricted to hours non-peak hours. Most walk-in access services tend to include a note in their terms of use policies to indicate that access to the service may be restricted at busy periods. The feeling from steering group members is that we won’t know what demand will be like unless we take a leap of faith and offer walk-in access.   
  • Why offer walk-in access: it was questioned why, if there is such low demand, should HE libraries invest the often considerable time necessary to set up a walk-in access service. As already discussed, usage has been low but there has been little to no promotion of walk-in access services. It is reasonable to expect that, if we tell people about a service, more users may use it. Walk-in access services also represent academic librarians’ efforts to make publicly funded research available to members of the public. Whilst we wait for a critical mass of journal literature to be made open access or a national licensing initiative to tackle the problem of barriers to research, academic libraries are provided a short-term solution to an immediate problem. Hopefully, walk-in access schemes will not be needed in the future but we don’t know how far into the future and, in the meantime, walk-in access is the best solution that academic libraries can offer.          
  • Experience for end user: representatives from public libraries raised the very valid point that the need for users to provide identification and to register to use the services presents a significant barrier to accessing information. It was also raised that there is confusion about what constitutes the commercial use that is prohibited by the license agreements of the electronic resources provided. There is scope here for public and academic librarians to work together to ensure that members of the public are made aware of these restrictions and about how to use walk-in access services.
  • Benefits to institution: in terms of what an HE institution may stand to gain from offering a walk-in access service, it was highlighted that most universities express a commitment to community engagement and this is a way to fulfil this obligation. There is also the hope that walk-in access users may, once on campus, be encouraged to sign up to a scheme run by the institution in question. An HE delegate pointed out that, if one student signs up to be a full-time degree student paying £9k p/a, the walk-in access service will have paid for itself. Another HE delegate suggested that a good use for walk-in access services is to provide access to information that will help potential research students prepare a proposal before being registered with the university.


After lunch, a tour of the Learning Resource Centre and demonstration of UWTSD’s walk-in access service, delegates split into two break-out sessions. Points discussed in the sessions were as follows.

Advocacy and marketing

  • Standardisation: schemes such as Libraries Together issue users with a ‘passport’ entitling them to borrow items from all public, FE and academic libraries in south west and mid Wales. It was strongly suggested that a similar standardisation of walk-in access schemes across Wales would help the user to understand what walk-in access is and how to use services. It was agreed that this suggestion should be taken to WHELF for discussion.
  • Visitors on campus: there was some discussion about the issues involved in having visitors on campus. Some HE librarians in Wales have had to undergo CRB checks before students from FE institutions can use the library service whereas librarians from other HE libraries haven’t. Colleagues who have looked into providing walk-in access services reported that insurance has not a problem but having under 18s on campus causes more concern.
  • Target audience: it was useful to discuss walk-in access with colleagues from public and FE libraries. As part of the Walk-in Access Wales project, a leaflet has been produced to advertise the service. A public library delegate said that it contained too much information and would not be useful to give to members of the public. It is hoped that discussion about walk-in access will continue across the sectors and that we can work together to target promotion more effectively. There was a feeling that walk-in access services need to be targeted to specific audiences. There may only be a handful of public library users who would make use of walk-in access services and, if other groups are more likely to use it e.g. alumni, NHS staff, perhaps promotion should be targeted accordingly. It was suggested that, as walk-in access services mature, work could be conducted into feedback to gauge the level of demand from the various user groups. There was also a suggestion that walk-in access could perhaps be tied in with the excellent health and well-being in libraries work conducted by the Society of Chief Librarians in Wales (see Stephen Gregory’s post here).

Technical solutions and access management

(thanks to Helen Thomas from CMU for collating notes on this break-out session which are summarised below)

  • Cost: in response to the question of whether funding was available for CU and CMU’s walk-in access services, the answer was no 

    but that most of the work involved is in small chunks for different staff and that the main task and resource required is around coordinating these small pieces of work. CU only spent money on buying their chipped smart cards as the rest of the IT kit was already available.

  • Shibboleth: there is difficulty around the lack of Shibboleth Guest Access by providers / publishers. Walk-in access services are an alternative access method until providers support this. Shibboleth would be tidier but it is not recognised by many publishers / suppliers of e-resources.

    A full list of all your providers allowing authentication by the right method (e.g. Shibboleth) is unlikely to occur due to the range/size/lack of financial incentive of these suppliers.

  • IT department involvement: CU and CMU suggested discussing the creation of guest accounts at the start of your implementation and to put your technical staff in contact with technical staff at other institutions who speak their language.
  • Authentication systems: Shibboleth and EZProxy are the main methods of authentication at CU and CMU.
  • Managing access to e-resources: the a

    dvice is to have a black list (of restricted e-resources) as opposed to a white list of available resources.  The latter is onerous and difficult to maintain.

  • Future development options: u

    se integrated search services to provide a scoped search across walk-in e-resources only e.g. Primo or Summon could be promoted to walk-in users as a pre-visit search option.

  • Why use an OPAC/web station/PC: JANET licence precludes using non-dual use machines for walk-in access services. Both options have been used in this trial and there are benefits to OPACs in that you’re not restricting your normal users from access to PCs.
  • SCONUL Access… walk-in access vs. EDUROAM: it was agreed that EDUROAM will provide better access to students from other institutions as this will enable them to use the local institution’s network to access their own institutions resources.
  • IP range issues: make sure these are correctly set up in relation to your institution’s wifi networks to prevent accidental provision of access to e-resources.
  • Actions: 1) Could JISC do something to improve supplier take-up and implementation of Shibboleth? 2) Contact Gregynog Colloquium organisers to ask about the possibility of a joint IT/library event on the cross-over day of the week so that IT and library staff can learn more. 3) Metrics: CMU to quantify the amount of time spent by each member of staff involved and measure against the institutional benefits such as providing alumni access, community engagement etc.


My favourite comment about the event was a public librarian’s response to both the question “what did you enjoy most about the event?” and “what did you enjoy least about the event?” which was:

The airy whiff of academia 🙂

It’s useful sometimes to step outside your own experience and to see things from others’ point of view. As an academic librarian working on a project based in an academic library with a steering group comprising only academic librarians, perhaps I am a touch out of touch with librarians from other sectors. The event made me reflect on the Walk-in Access Wales project and wish I had been in contact with public, FE and national librarians far sooner. I hope that a positive outcome of the project is that we will work on setting up and refining walk-in access services with greater collaboration across the sectors.

All delegates who completed a feedback form said that the event met their expectations and that information from the day would prove useful for their jobs. Cardiff and Cardiff Metropolitan Universities’ presentations were very well received and I think invaluable in helping to explain, first-hand, the work involved in setting up and managing a walk-in access service.

In terms of what delegates enjoyed least about the content of the event, the following comments were made:

  • More focus needed. Develop your marketing strategy and launch it.
  • Perhaps it would have been/be good to set up dialogue directly with public libraries as we understand drivers that are unique to FE and HE.

I feel quite buoyed that both comments refer to matters which can form part of the future cross-sector dialogue about walk-in access.

I am well aware that there may be information missing from this blog post. The day fostered so much discussion that it was quite a job to remember it all. Delegates are more than welcome to get in touch if you think I need to add any more detail.

I’d like to thank all the delegates for coming along to the event and contributing so enthusiastically to the discussion. A huge thank you also to Julie Neenan, Vicky Stallard and Helen Thomas for sharing information about Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University’s walk-in access services and to Alison Harding for organising the event so successfully.

Finally, thanks go to Stephen Gregory of CILIP Cymru Wales for tweeting during the event (a tweetdoc collating the twitter activity can be found here) and for blogging about the event so swiftly (Stephen’s blog post can be found here).

Apologies for the long-winded post!


Walk-in Access Wales event: booking deadline extended

Thanks for all the bookings received so far. We have a few spaces left so have decided to extend the booking deadline until Tuesday 29th January. To book a place, please fill in the booking form and return to b.blatchford@wales.ac.uk by the end of Tuesday 29th. The booking form also includes an agenda and more information about the day.

Bronwen (Project Officer)

FREE Walk-in Access Wales event, 1 February 2013

Following on from our ‘save the date’ email sent to JISCMail lists in December, we’re pleased to announce details of our forthcoming Walk-in Access Wales event on 1st February at the Carmarthen campus of the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.

The event is free and lunch is included!

We are keen to see librarians and IT staff from public, FE, academic, national, research or other libraries and information services at the event. The event will be an opportunity to learn about walk-in access services in Wales and the national context for providing walk-in access. It will also provide attendees with an opportunity to discuss walk-in access with colleagues from across the library sectors.

More details can be found on the booking form. Please submit your booking forms to b.blatchford@wales.ac.uk  by Tuesday 22nd January. Please feel free to send any queries to this email address as well.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Bronwen, Walk-in Access Wales Project Officer

Walk-in access, 2012 observations and SCONUL event

I have been working on the Walk-in Access Wales secondment for one day a week during a period where, in my main job, I am feeling the pressures of a recent restructure and the winding down of validation operations with 130 collaborative centres around the world in preparation for merger with another university. I do not mention this to elicit sympathy: I am acutely aware of the considerable difficulties experienced by all higher education workers at a time where the sector is forced to re-define itself in the face of severe financial constraints and governmental pressure to streamline and, in Wales in particular, merge with other HEIs. Rather, I use my own work situation to illustrate the difficulty of implementing walk-in access. Convincing managers to provide a service for library visitors, thereby diverting precious staff time from providing services for registered, fee-paying students can certainly be a tough sell.

I attended SCONUL’s M25 walk-in access collaboration workshop in October 2012, at which there was significant concern from delegates that their libraries will be overrun by walk-in users. One delegate reported that she works in a library where active SCONUL users doubled in one year to approximately 3,000. Naturally, there is concern that the administration implications of providing walk-in access will add significantly to the workload of already very busy librarians and will divert staff time from supporting fee paying students. It is important to note that usage of walk-in access schemes, including those in London HEIs, has been low and that the services are offered on the proviso that they may be restricted at peak times where registered students must be prioritised. Herein lies the conundrum. Both SCURL and SWRLS produced reports on walk-in access in 2012 which highlighted that no walk-in access service is actively promoted. There is a tentative approach to walk-in access which launches the services as pilots, to be reviewed and, if necessary, withdrawn. Indeed, one south-west England based HEI withdrew their walk-in access service after the SWRLS walk-in access report was published.

Why are we providing walk-in access?

The question of why we are providing walk-in access needs to be answered. It feels to me that we are happy to provide walk-in access to tick the community engagement box and because it is a ‘good thing to do’ but we are scared that, if we promote walk-in access, we won’t be able to cope with the demand. Registered library users must, of course, take precedence over library visitors. But what is the point of investing staff time and library budget into providing walk-in access services if we don’t want walk-in users?

Throughout this project, I have seen many universities whose websites declare a commitment to community engagement and widening access. Surely providing local communities with access to electronic resources that they otherwise would not be able to read is a tangible service that can help fulfil this aim? It could also get members of the public into their local university and, perhaps, encourage them to enrol on courses?

Guidelines to Providing Walk-in Access to E-Resources: M25 Meeting, 25th October 2012

Back on October 25th, at Birkbeck, University of London, approximately 50 library and IT staff from the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries gathered together to discuss walk-in access to e-resources. SCONUL arranged the M25 Meeting as an opportunity to share experiences of providing walk-in access for the benefit of delegates from institutions who have not implemented such a service and to gain feedback on its draft SCONUL WATER Project Report (not yet published). Presentations were given by:

Geoff Coles and Ian Collins, University of the West of England

Geoff and Ian discussed both the implementation of a walk-in access service at UWE and the 2011 SWRLS audit of walk-in access provision across FE and HE institutions in the south west of England (report published in 2012 and available here).

At the time of the SWRLS walk-in access report, a total of six institutions in the region provided a walk-in access service, all of which were based at HEIs. Geoff and Ian, highlighting that setting up a walk-in access service can take longer than initially anticipated, told the group that the SWRLS report was published before UWE was able to launch their own walk-in access service. Since completing the report, one institution has removed their walk-in access service but UWE has launched its own service meaning that there are still six walk-in access services provided by south west HEIs.

A point to note when discussing walk-in access here: UWE, after discussion about equality and diversity, decided to refer to their service as “guest access to databases”. Most institutions offering such a service still refer to it as walk-in access, in part, presumably, because publishers’ license agreements often use the term, but, when setting up visitor access to electronic resources, terminology is something to consider.

UWE undertook a year-long project to review all of its electronic resource license agreements to determine which resources could be used by its partner colleges’ staff and students in the UK and overseas. As the licenses were already being analysed, UWE used the project as an opportunity to check which licenses permit walk-in access. Many institutions have launched their pilot walk-in access services with small numbers of electronic resources, usually those purchased under a JISC or Eduserv license, but UWE’s comprehensive analysis means they provide a very wide selection of resources to visitors.

Over a five-month pilot period, UWE had a total of 60 registrations and 51 actual uses of the service. In common with most institutions, the service has not been actively promoted.

Bronwen Blatchford, Walk-in Access Wales

I gave a presentation about the Walk-in Access Wales project, walk-in access services already implemented in Cardiff and Cardiff Metropolitan Universities and about the progress of setting up a walk-in access service at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David. My presentation, with slide notes, can be viewed here.

Liam Earney, JISC Collections

Liam presented about walk-in access from the publishers’ perspective. The key point of his talk was that walk-in access is not of huge concern to publishers. The JISC model license permits walk-in access for visitors and, in his experience, publishers are happy for subscribers to offer access to their content for walk-in users whilst they are on campus. Liam explained that publishers were surprised that he contacted him about the issue of walk-in access and that he and the majority of publishers he spoke to expressed surprise that librarians were questioning the licensing side of providing walk-in access services. Of course, there are some publishers who are not happy for their content to be supplied to walk-in users and commercial use is strictly prohibited. There was a suggestion from some delegates that licensing is not an issue when it comes to walk-in access at the moment because publishers might not understand the implications of such a service and that it might change over time. Given that walk-in users have specifically been written into the JISC model license’s definition of authorised users, however, and that the thrust of Liam’s talk was that librarians should feel perfectly comfortable providing content covered by a JISC license, I felt that Liam’s talk should be of great comfort to institutions considering setting up a walk-in access service.

John Gallagher, City University

John Gallagher, Applications Architect at City University, talked about providing walk-in access from the identity management perspective. This was probably the topic of most interest to delegates as identity management is a perennial problem for librarians. John discussed how identity management is poor in most universities and that systems were generally home-grown to cope with the ever-increasing groups of users with varying privileges. John highlighted that identity management is maturing in universities, however, as the problem is better understood and mooted the idea of dynamic access based on e-resource licenses (made easier by JISC Collections’ Knowledge Base+) and prospective users’ profiles.

In terms of walk-in access at City University, a service is being provided which matches the kinds of services at other universities i.e. dedicated PCs are provided in the library which walk-in users log in to with a generic account that gives them access to a limited number of resources. John highlighted that City, like other universities, could provide a more sophisticated identity management solution but that it is not a priority when weighed up against other routine systems work and projects. He suggested that a way to convince colleagues to set up walk-in access services is to pitch walk-in access as an add-on to projects to improve identity management for all user groups.

Project plan

Following the last meeting on the 15th of August, the Walk-in Access Wales steering group has agreed a project plan, including project deliverables, work involved and project timescales, which can be viewed on the project plan page (also accessible via the drop-down menu from the about page).