The reason why I started doing the scanning more than other people was just because the scanner was sat on my desk. It’s heavy and a lot of effort to move it!
Ants Galt, or ‘Stan the Scan Man’ depending on who you ask, is a Library Assistant in Information Services, based in the Templeman Library.
Ants works as part of a team which developed a new collaborative workflow to tackle the problems raised by remote and hybrid working during the Covid-19 pandemic.
One function of the team is the scanning of books to supplement the core reading lists for modules. These scans are provided to students via Moodle as accessible PDF files. For the rights to do this, the University pays for a licence from the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA). Subject to certain checks and permissions, this allows the scanning of up to 10% of a book, or one chapter, whichever is greater, to make it available for students.
CLA scanning is one of the services that supported distance learning before March 2020. But during the pandemic, restrictions at times made it harder, or impossible, for students to visit the library and borrow books. As such, the spotlight turned to online resources to support socially distanced teaching and learning.
More academics and module convenors, in response to their students saying: “I’m not on campus, how do I get this resource?” would send a request for it. The team followed the CLA Procedure, and if possible, the document would be uploaded to Moodle for students to access.
“With Covid-19, we did a vast amount more of in-house scans than we had done previously. Matthew Seales, my colleague, predominantly did the background work and let me know which books needed scanning.
“My standard day was to come into the office with that list of requests and go around and find the books on the shelves… in a very empty library. I would find maybe ten books first thing in the morning, purely because I couldn’t carry more than that! I’d take them back to my desk, work through the scans, and drop them back into the processing system. They had to be quarantined before they could go back on the shelves.
“Probably on an average day I was doing 15-20 requests. Those requests can vary from one or two pages to 100 pages, and sometimes even more – depending on chapter size and the size of the books involved.”
Ants joined the University of Kent in January 2019. After leaving school at 16, he worked at Natwest for a couple of weeks short of 36 years. “I took voluntary redundancy and had no idea what I was going to do. I just felt it was the time to leave and to try and do something else. All I knew was that I didn’t want to do banking anymore.”
After a couple of months’ break, he took a job as Exams Assistant at Canterbury College, assisting students who needed access arrangements for their exams – a role he found particularly satisfying. Then a friend told him there was a job vacancy in the Templeman Library.
“I wanted to work for the University because of its reputation as a good employer. My wife, Lucy, also works at Kent, so it felt right. She is Café Supervisor at J’s Tea Bar in Jennison. We get to see each other during the day – I’ll walk past the café on my lunchtime stroll and wave – and when possible, we travel in together.”
“‘Stan’ is an anagram of Ants: when I find myself talking about something remarkably boring, which is normally weather- or cricket-related, Lucy will roll her eyes, look at me and say, ‘Thanks for that, Stan.’ Stan the Scan Man rhymed, so it stuck.”
Scanning, though, is not the extent of Ants’ role: “It's not like I'm some sort of automaton just constantly going: ‘Book. Scan. Book. Scan.’”
Other duties include one or two financial tasks, because of his background; document delivery, where the team arranges to borrow books from other libraries, when requested by students or staff; and the initial checking of newly purchased books when they arrive.
“Back in 2020, I wanted to get into the office a couple of days a week, once we had everything logistically in place. There was no pressure to do so but it was useful for my weekly tasks.”
“It was nice to know the scanning I was doing was very important and I understood that it was something that needed to be done.”