Distance is no object for students of the University of Leicester where the wonders of the web are making browsing for books a reality.
The University Library is launching a new Distance Learning Unit - catering for more than 5,000 students. The University is among the biggest providers of postgraduate distance learning in the country and is the UK's third biggest provider of taught postgraduate degrees.
The new facility will mean students can access the University of Library from the comfort of their own homes - or wherever they have web access. The new enhanced service will be launched on Wednesday February 2 by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Robert Burgess.
Mrs Jo Aitkins, Public Services Librarian, said: "As one of the largest providers of quality distance learning courses we are delighted to offer our distance learners a range of library services via the new Distance Learning Unit.
"We recognise that our distance learners are not able to use the University Library in the normal way so we have developed a number of services that can be accessed by telephone, fax, email, personal visit, or the Internet."
Services provided by the Unit, which acts as a one-stop-shop, include enquiry services, document delivery, access to electronic sources of information, information skills support, postal book loans (UK only) and access to other libraries.
Distance Learners who have access to the Internet are able to make requests and find help and information through the distance learning web pages at http://www.le.ac.uk/li/distance/index.html
The University Library has also developed a unique interface to its online library catalogue. Students are able to access the library catalogue via the web, and distance learners are then able to log into Distweb. This allows them to search the holdings of the library, and they are also able to place requests for the items they wish to read using the online form, see http://library.le.ac.uk/
Mrs Aitkins added: "Our statistics show that being able to access the catalogue over the Internet is already proving very valuable for our users. Over the last two weeks people from 23 country have accessed the system.
"We hear much about the growth of the use of the Internet and how people can use it for leisure and shopping. Our distance learning students are now able to use it to join the University Library and to order their books.
"Within 30 minutes of our website going live we had a student living in Hong Kong completing our web form in order to join the library."
The Unit which has only been open for business for a few weeks has already received very positive feedback from the students including, "It makes all the difference to know that you and your unit are making efforts to accommodate us distance learning students" said a student from Manchester, UK and "Thank you again for the first class professional service that you provide" said a student from Jordan.
NOTE TO NEWSDESK: For more information please contact: Mrs Jo Aitkins, Public Services Librarian, Telephone +44 (0) 116 252 5180; Fax +44 (0) 116 252 2066. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Robert Burgess the Vice-Chancellor, will be launching the service at 12.30 pm on Wednesday 2 February in the Haldane Committee Room, Fielding Johnson Building. There will also be an opportunity to view the web services and talk to the library staff providing the services.
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