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UCEM: user experience at the heart of the library

24 August 2021 • Cintia Trigonopoulos, product marketer

University College of Estate Management (UCEM) is the leading provider of supported online education for the built environment, with over one hundred years' experience in providing the highest-quality learning opportunities. The University College is based in Reading, United Kingdom.

Lucy Roper has been a part of the team at UCEM for the past ten years, and legacy MyAthens integration was already present when she started. She recently spoke to us about her experiences with the platform upgrade to MyAthens Plus.


Lucy is the university’s information governance manager and, when she joined UCEM ten years ago, the institution had an estimated two thousand students. As of this year, that number has grown to more than four thousand students across one hundred countries.

Lucy commented that the legacy MyAthens had already been implemented at UCEM and outlined that her goals were to curate a more in-depth e-library, moving away from a heavy reliance on physical textbooks, and to focus on a purely online model.

Horizons, UCEM's headquarters. Photo by ©UCEM Media Production
Horizons, UCEM's headquarters. Photo by ©UCEM Media Production


Lucy had online assets that fell outside the reach of our range of services, including open access resources. Therefore, the ability to consolidate all resources was paramount as the key objective.

A seamless user experience had always been important to the UCEM team and this, coupled with easy access to library resources, was high on the priority list.

Lucy previously had to make individual requests to the IT department to issue a new username and password for each student. This cumbersome process, coupled with a swiftly growing student base, led to delays in providing timely access.


Lucy’s extensive experience with our legacy MyAthens service enabled her to provide a side-by-side comparison of the innovative solutions that our new MyAthens Plus was able to provide her in just a short space of time.

She was thrilled by the highly customizable user experience and the ability to consolidate resources outside OpenAthens. The new, prominent search field was a time saver for patrons who previously needed to scroll down the landing page to find links to specific resources.

She also highlighted our single sign-on for praise. For the last two years, students have been able to benefit from an improved streamlined experience as patrons have been able to access any resource without the need for an additional login screen.

Lucy went on to explain how using MyAthens Plus has also provided the team with impactful reporting solutions in the form of access to analytical dashboards. The ability to export graphs and metrics for board reports, and to assist with budgeting, has proved invaluable.

Benefits and results

The level of communications with patrons has been enhanced with the addition of highly customizable cards on the landing page. Lucy has now branded the page for UCEM and is able to use these cards to share library news and announce additional resources without assistance from the IT department.

Lucy was happy to announce that UCEM now has twelve full library subscription database resources aggregated via our MyAthens Plus platform. She highlighted that patrons are now utilizing the discovery services which, upon purchase, means they gain direct access without the need for a further login.

Lucy praised the management control that single sign-on has provided. Patrons are able to view all resources available from the landing page and they are automatically logged in and aggregated through a single search field.

As a result, she has been able to use her time more efficiently. The dashboard has given her the ability to create accounts on demand and to easily delete accounts when students leave. This has saved considerable administration time.

Using MyAthens Plus has allowed Lucy to promote additional external resources with ease. She is able to direct link to any resource within the UCEM website, virtual learning environment, and e-Library via prompt cards on the homepage.

The usage analytics has allowed UCEM to make informed budget decisions based on data. Being able to justify the renewal of subscriptions has also proved invaluable for the quarterly board review. In addition, Lucy commented that the world map function provided an excellent visual image of their global reach.

Lucy applauded the user experience that has enabled her to organize all resources by popularity. She has been able to put her time into customizing UCEM’s MyAthens Plus library portal by sharing updates, news and has even uploaded a UCEM personalized video to the page about her library and another one about OpenAthens.

Zoom call
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Want to know more about how UCEM is using MyAthens Plus? Watch this.

If you missed our joint webinar with UCEM, you can now catch up on the recording.

In this webinar, Lucy Roper, information governance manager at UCEM, shared how she approached her MyAthens Plus setup, her experience migrating to the new version and how she’s currently using the platform, whilst comparing its functionalities and user experience to the older version.

Our implementation specialist, Sam Neate, also shared his top tips for setting up MyAthens Plus.

Watch the recording