Can you break down the barriers to learning, teaching and research?

Do you have an idea for how technology can support access and inclusion for the UK’s learners, staff and researchers?

Students using a PC
JISC are running a competition ‘Accessible by Design‘, inviting you to pitch ideas which could overcome accessibility issues and improve the experience for learners and researchers.

The winning idea receives £5000 in funding and support from JISC to turn concept into a reality. Video pitches must be submitted via the JISC Elevator page before 26th October.

Recent ideas include a more accessible version of YouTube and an ebook to capture the digital stories of students with Specific Learning Difficulties. For further inspiration have a look at some of the ideas which have been submitted to recent JISC Elevator projects.

Information about the competition can be found on the pages below:

If you would like any help submitting an idea contact the Innovation Group and we’d be happy to help.


Drone for loan

Many Libraries nowadays are lending non-traditional items that are useful to their students and customers. With Amazon’s drone delivery service in the works there has been a rise in suggestions that libraries use drones to deliver books. The University of South Florida is combining these ideas by offering drones for loan.

Sensibly, as there have been several security, privacy and health and safety concerns about drones in America in the last month, students will not be able to just check out the items as easily as a book. The students will have to undergo training, explain what they want to use it for and, for now, restrict their use of the drone to campus.

I’ve been hearing about drones and their non-military uses with increasing frequency in the last few years, starting with being shown how they could be used to rapidly re-map an area after a natural disaster at a conference in 2012, to their being part of interactive gaming at Playing for Change earlier this year. It seems likely that drones are going to be an increasing part of our landscape. Like Google Glass it seems that the innocuous uses of most drone users may be outweighed by paranoia about the potentially criminal uses of a few individuals.


Got an opinion about drones/ the range of non-traditional lending items in Libraries?

We want to hear from you, so please feel free to use the comment option below.

Amazing Grace and the Library Z Zone!

Grace Bamber (check name)Sleep Pod

I chatted with Eureka! 2014 finalist Grace Bamber this week about her soon to be launched new sleep-pod competition idea. Here is what Grace had to say about her student-inspired nap area and her experience of being part of Eureka! 2014 last year.

“About this time last year, an advertisement popped up on blackboard for the Eureka! Innovation Challenge Event. The first prize of £1000 worth of vouchers was tempting, but above all it was an opportunity to do something worthwhile for students. I was hesitant to enter, but figured “it’s worth a shot”.

I never expected to be shortlisted to the final with my idea to introduce “sleep pods”. Looking around campus, it’s actually quite funny to see the crazy places that people doze off, and we realise that coffee doesn’t always cut it at 3am in the Ali G. Short naps benefit alertness, productivity, wellbeing and learning, yet still my idea was met with a mixed response. People seemed to either love it, or were completely confused. One of the judges even compared my idea to a hotel, and asked if I would be providing “pod service” to deliver refreshments! However, companies like Virgin Active and Google are jumping on the bandwagon, and it just makes sense that in providing a 24 hour learning environment, we cater for the 24 hour needs of students.

Although I didn’t come out in the top three, being a finalist was the highlight of my first year at UoM, and I am delighted that next month we will be introducing a sleep pod to AGLC. Presenting at the contact theatre with Phil Jupitus as a host was the most nervous I’ve ever felt, but knowing that all this is happening because of me makes the pressure worth it.

Keep your eyes posted for more information on the soon to be launched z zone!

Lancaster University Visit – Jolt!


Based on our very own Eureka! Library Innovation Challenge event “Jolt the Library” was a collaboration between Lancaster University’s Library and Innovation Hub. The central idea was to find an innovative idea to improve the student experience at their Library. Lorraine Beard and I were delighted to share our knowledge as project leader and project sponsor of Eureka! and consulted with staff at Lancaster on how to make the afternoon a success. We of course attended the final and were given a warm welcome by the event organisers. If you’d like to know more about the day and see which student idea scooped the top prize of £1000 take a look at Lancaster University Library’s competition page.

The Future of Oculus Rift, According to the Man who Invented It

(Not Nick – its just a picture of him wearing the head-set)


If anyone knows what’s going to happen to virtual reality it’s Palmer Luckey, the founder of Oculus VR and inventor of the Oculus Rift.

Looking way, way into the future Palmer sees a very different kind of Rift to the current set up full of wires and straps. “In the long run these headsets aren’t even going to be plugging into PCs, they’re going to have dedicated chip sets on the headset itself that are able to render a lot of different experiences……….(Read More)

Showtime in the Library!

It’s something that’s been said before but something that perhaps needs repeating in order for us to continue to be innovative in a variety of ways – innovation extends beyond embracing or employing technology.  I’ve been thinking a little about  the winning Eureka ideas put forward by Harriet Hill-Payne involving using a part of the library as an exhibition space for items from the library’s rich and varied special collections. This got me thinking about the arts within libraries in general and as a big music fan I thought what about using the library as a space for performance? This could include drama as well as music. I’m aware that  University of Manchester already has performance spaces around campus (as well as exhibition space, of course) but the idea of holding performances in the library could be seen as a way of bringing people into the library who may not otherwise be aware of what it offers them and increase its profile. Naturally the space used would need to be sound-proofed and/or not close to areas for silent study.


Get it Loud in Libraries is an initiative launched initially by Lancaster Library and now active in many libraries throughout the North West which showcases music in public libraries with the intention of involving and engaging young people. It’s been hugely successful and is intending to spread further afield in the near future with backing from the PRS and Arts Council.

Within academic libraries there’s the possibility of lunchtime classical musical recitals or evening events that could involve popular music by student bands or higher profile acts.  These could even be linked with aspects of our collections. Having a performance space could enrich the Library artistically and culturally and would likely connect closely with many students. It could also be used for poetry readings and talks by authors which are more traditionally found in public libraries, though I can’t see any reason why not  in academic libraries.  There is an interesting and innovative programme of cultural/artistic activities going on in Harvard College Library  that could be an avenue other academic libraries may also wish to explore . As a University with a strong artistic heritage showcasing  some of examples this  through a programme of events within the library could potentially be an exciting new development.