Hello Library Hub!

At 10.00 on the morning of Wednesday 31st July 2019, the Library hub discover service will take over from its predecessor Copac and will start providing libraries and their users with the ability to do fast searches using a fresh new interface across the merged catalogues of 110 UK academic and specialist libraries.

But that’s just the start.

We have data from more than 20 additional libraries which we are in the process of loading; and 80 or so other libraries have said they are interested in sending us their data, all of which will be added to the very large aggregation that we refer to as the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (or ‘NBK’ for short). So during the course of next year, there is a very good prospect that users will – for the first time – be able to get a clear and convenient view across the holdings of the great majority of university libraries in the UK; along with a large number of other significant collections held by national and specialist libraries.

Discover isn’t just a replacement for Copac; we are also retiring the SUNCAT service and integrating serials functionality into the new system. Since 2003, users have had to navigate two different Jisc systems to find full coverage of books and journals but now we have brought the data together and made it searchable in one easy to use service.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues at EDINA for working with us to make this service transition possible; and for their hard work and dedication over the years providing SUNCAT to the library community.

With serials data alongside monographs in the NBK, we are also able to incorporate all of that data into another service launching on July 31st, Library hub compare. This enables users to look across collections and across institutions and explore where there are overlaps and where there are strengths and weaknesses in specific subject areas. It will also provide a scarcity checking function for the UK Research Reserve (UKRR) initiative and has the potential to be the data backbone for national or regional exercises to streamline the holdings of low-use print monographs.

The third service that we are launching is Library hub cataloguing and we are working in partnership with OCLC to deliver that service. Drawing on a very substantial portion of the data held in the NBK, this service allows participating libraries to download MARC records for reuse in their local catalogues. By working carefully with representatives of the commercial library data supply chain we are ensuring that only non-commercially sensitive data is making its way into this dataset. We will continue to have discussions with suppliers to make sure that the library data ecosystem is as efficient and effective as it can be going forwards.

Current users of the RLUK Database should note that this will still be available for a few months as we ensure a smooth transition between the cataloguing services.

We’ve got big and ambitious plans over the next few years for how we can help the UK library community to take advantage of its own data. We will be working with our governance groups, library consortia, strategic partners (e.g. RLUK, SCONUL, the British Library) and representatives from the commercial data supply chain to make sure that we deliver maximum advantage to Jisc members and to other NBK participant libraries. That advantage ultimately translates into  better, faster and more effective services and functionality that libraries can deliver to users engaged in teaching, learning and research.

We are very pleased (and a bit relieved to be honest!) that we have managed to get to this point. If you haven’t had a look at the new Library Hub services yet, please start by taking a look at Discover. 

See what you can find and let us know what you think.

Post-cancellation access rights in Jisc Collections journal agreements: an overview

As the financial climate makes the possibility of journal agreements being cancelled more likely, and the emphasis in those agreements shifts towards paying for publishing services rather than paying for access to content, it is more important than ever to be clear about what your institution would have access to if you decided not to renew your subscription. This blogpost looks at how that access works, what problems can occur and how we at Jisc think the situation could be improved.

Why PCA matters
Institutions have been accumulating – and paying for – post-cancellation access (PCA) rights to content over successive subscriptions for decades, but they risk losing those rights as the focus of these agreements shifts from reading to publishing. The move towards open access (OA) should not be seen as a solution to this problem, as there will always be content that stays behind a paywall; either because it was published before OA was ever considered, or because it originates from outside the UK, or from countries without OA policies. As such, retaining, strengthening and clarifying PCA rights are important aspects of Jisc Collections’ open access negotiations in our agreements, especially if the option of cancellation is used to strengthen our position in compelling publishers to transition to affordable open access. In all our transitional agreements, we are working for PCA rights to be improved or as a last resort maintained at existing levels, and certainly made clearer.

Policies regarding PCA tend to vary, so if you’re considering cancelling a big deal you need to be certain about which titles and which years’ coverage you are entitled to under your current and previous licences with the publisher.

Tracking your PCA rights: core collections
Over the years you will have probably subscribed to certain journals on a more or less continuous basis; a relatively stable set of titles renewed under each successive licence agreement. These might be described by their publisher as Maintained or Subscribed Titles, or as a Core Collection. In theory they were at some point set down in writing and confirmed by a quote. The publisher might have allowed you to cancel a certain number of them each year, or to swap them for other titles of similar value. Again, such changes should have been recorded somewhere for future reference or audit, as accumulated PCA rights up to the time of the change will survive. If, instead of a bespoke collection of selected titles, you’ve subscribed to a subject collection defined by the publisher, this should have been referenced in the original licence and recorded at the date of signature.

Transferred titles
Publishers often lose the rights to certain journal titles or acquire the rights to titles from other publishers. Again, your PCA rights will survive this change, and it’s important to remember that they attach to the title, not the publisher, so it is the responsibility of the new owner of the journal to provide your access to it. The same principle applies if a publisher transfers a title internally from one subject collection to another: PCA rights should be maintained.

Such changes to publishers’ holdings or subject lists are tracked by the KB+ service, and the Jisc model licence now refers to the collection lists as recorded and updated in KB+, to ensure that titles added over the licence term are recorded as forming part of the licensed material. More information can be found here: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/tracking-ongoing-access

Front files vs back files
Some publishers separate their online journal coverage into a front file and a back file. The back file will contain all journal material published by that publisher up to a certain date (the end of 1997, say) and the front file will contain everything published after that date (1 January 1998 onwards). While you’re subscribing to a deal with that publisher you might be offered access to the entire front file of whatever titles are included in that deal, but this access usually ends if you cancel the deal: PCA would only go back as far as the date the institution started to subscribe. Access to back file content is usually reserved for core (or maintained/subscribed) titles, unless you have subscribed (or purchased perpetual access to) the back file under a separate licence agreement with the publisher.

How PCA works: a scenario
University of Newtown began subscribing to selected science journals from the same publisher in the 1980s and 1990s (Journals A, B and C in the diagram below). In 2006 it decided to pay a top-up fee to subscribe to the publisher’s entire STM Collection and has done so continuously ever since. The deal gives them access to the entire bundle of STM journal content in the publisher’s front file (1998 onwards) while they maintain their agreement, and coverage of Journals A, B and C back to the date they began subscribing, although Journal C transferred to another publisher in 2010, at which point they stopped the subscription. The university decided to cancel this STM Collection deal at the end of 2018.

PCA rights are as follows:

• For titles listed in the 2018 STM Collection: all content published in those titles from 2006 onwards, up to the end of 2018 (represented by the blue front file box; prior to cancellation the University would also have had access to the front file back to 1998 onwards, represented by the green front file box)
• For Journal A: all content from 1986 to the end of 2018
• For Journal B: all content from 1992 to the end of 2018
• For Journal C: all content from 1988 to the end of 2010 (access to be provided by the new publisher)

In the diagram, the blue squares show the content with PCA rights attached, while the green represents content where no PCA rights would be retained after cancellation.

PCA chart

PCA in Jisc agreements
Across Jisc Collections’ main journals agreements, the PCA rights fall into two broad categories:
• Type 1: PCA to subscribed (maintained) titles and any subsequent substitutions only.
• Type 2: PCA to subscribed (maintained) titles + licensed bundled titles back to the year the subscription to the deal began.

Jisc agreements

How can we make PCA better? A call to action
Of these two categories, Type 2 is clearly an improvement on Type 1, but it still does not provide institutions with the complete coverage they need to move to transitional deals with full confidence. It’s also clear that PCA arrangements have the potential to be very complicated and require good record keeping and audit trails on the part of both the institution and the publisher. Problematic gaps in coverage can develop if an institution cancels individual titles, and access can be spread across different publisher platforms if the rights to titles change hands. Moreover, the amount of work involved in keeping tabs on access entitlements is often disproportionate to the amount of use this older content actually gets; Jisc’s studies show that by the far the highest concentration of usage of journal content occurs in issues published in the previous two years.
Here at Jisc we’d like to see a more straightforward solution; we’d like to see publishers offer post-cancellation access to the whole of the relevant journal collection – not bound by the start dates or individual title histories. This small change would make life easier for institutions and publishers, with little or no cost to the publishers.

New Jisc role for Liam Earney

From 1 August, Liam Earney will be taking up the role of executive director for Jisc’s digital resources directorate and joining the executive leadership team. As the current director for licensing, responsible for both Jisc Collections and CHEST, Liam will continue to have oversight of these key services but will also have overall responsibility for our portfolio of library, content and open access services and Jisc’s participation in the UK Data Service – led by the UK Data Archive at the University of Essex.

  1. Ensuring that we continue to deliver the savings, efficiencies and high levels of service performance across our portfolio that our sector expects and requires
  2. Making sure that in the areas of content & licensing, discovery, open science and UKDS we provide essential infrastructure on behalf of the sector that delivers productivity, efficiencies, service and performance
  3. Delivering our open science services – launch of Open research hub, negotiating transformative OA agreements with publishers and making sure our existing services meet the needs of researchers, institutions and funders
  4. Ensuring that the transformation of our library support services is completed – including the launch of library hub as the home of our discovery, cataloguing, acquisition, subscription management and analytic services – so that we increase the value we provide and are able to effectively demonstrate those benefits
  5. Reviewing and renewing our offer to libraries and LRCs in FE & skills based on an understanding and appreciation of their ambitions and challenges
  6. Finalising the successful integration of Jisc Collections and Chest, and building a strong content and software licensing service for research, teaching and learning
  7. Make sure that our services operate on a sustainable basis and that we can generate the investment required to enhance our priority services and deliver the services our sector needs for the future
  8. Making sure that we are organised to deliver all of this and that we are making the best use of the knowledge, experience and expertise we have in colleagues across DR and developing colleagues for the future.

Nearly time to say … “goodbye Copac and SUNCAT!”

In just over six weeks time, we will retire the Copac and SUNCAT services.

Always good to try and catch the attention of the blog reader with an attention-grabbing first sentence! For anyone who knows these services and how long they have been around, it may focus the mind and prompt some questions.  As I wrote it, a few thoughts started racing through my head! Let me share them with you.

Are we going to be ready?

Six weeks is not that far away and to be perfectly honest (as with all complex projects that have a lot of moving parts but fixed deadlines) there are still quite a few things that need to be addressed as we go towards the target retirement date of Wednesday July 31st. But that’s OK … it’s not as if we haven’t been working very hard on the successor services for Copac and SUNCAT for a long time. In case you haven’t heard already, they are going to be superseded by a new collection of services that will come under the banner of Jisc Library hub and will be called: Discover, Compare and Cataloguing. All of these services will rely on the very large aggregation of data that we have built over the last two and half years. We refer to that as the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase or NBK for short. See the growing list of contributors.

A pilot version of Library hub discover is available for use right now and is freely and globally available. This will replace the Copac and SUNCAT discovery functionality.

A pilot version of Library hub cataloguing is available for use right now by NBK contributing libraries and Jisc members. It requires a login which can be requested by writing to nbk.copac@jisc.ac.uk. This will provide the functionality currently delivered by the RLUK Database.

Library hub compare is not yet available in pilot but will be available shortly. This will take over from the Copac Collection Management (CCM) tools and the SUNCAT Serials Comparison Service.

So … yes. It’s a big step but we are confident that the Library hub services are going to provide significant gains. The functionality launched on 31st July will not be the finished product. Based on feedback we will continue to develop and evolve the services and functionality after that date. With the Library hub cataloguing service, we will closely monitor the feedback we are getting as we go towards July 31st and – if necessary – we have the option of extending the availability of the RLUK Database until we are confident that Library hub cataloguing is meeting user requirements.

Why are you retiring Copac and SUNCAT?

The second big thing on my mind right now is that I’d like to be sure that everyone in the community is clear why Jisc is retiring old and reliable services that have been around for a very long time.

The reasons go all the way back to 2014 and the National Monograph Strategy which recommended that a new National Monograph Knowledgebase was required. The vision required “an open, comprehensive, accurate and timely bibliographic and holdings knowledgebase”.

In subsequent discussions with the community, it became clear that the Knowledgebase needed to be imagined at a new scale and needed to bring together monograph and serials data. Jisc was encouraged to think ambitiously and to work collaboratively to transform prospects for discovery, data visibility, data quality and how libraries might manage their collections. Acting on these recommendations, we went into partnership with OCLC to deliver at scale and to work in partnership to deliver national and international solutions for metadata management and data visibility.

So the key point is that we had to make a step-change in what we were able to deliver with Copac and SUNCAT. We were asked to re-imagine what a service should deliver rather than try to transform capability via incremental developments to existing services. A related but slightly different driver was that a fundamental rethink was needed around the bibliographic ecosystem/marketplace.  Duplication of effort and confusion around data rights and reuse was commonplace and a strong desire was expressed for a new programme of work to tackle a complex challenge involving many dependent actors. The NBK has proved to be an effective vehicle for doing that and negotiations are in train with a wide variety of stakeholders to reshape how the market for bibliographic data can become more economically efficient.

The services built on the NBK represent a new generation of bibliographic data services that build on the value that Copac and SUNCAT have delivered to the community for 20 years or more. They will deliver new levels of scale, flexibility and opportunity.

Who will be able to use which services?

The third thing on my mind is whether everyone is sufficiently clear about who can use the services, who can (and should) submit data, and what the benefits are likely to be?

We’ve tried very hard over the last few years to reach out to various communities by presenting at events, running roadshows and getting information out wherever we can so that everyone knows what is in prospect. But it’s hard or impossible to reach everybody and it’s also very complex to present all the opportunities that we envisage the NBK could deliver – and who will benefit.

So we have developed a ‘Participant Framework‘ that lists all the component parts of the NBK programme as it is currently anticipated. It lists components that currently are in place; services we are launching at the end of July; and many future developments that we want to work towards. It is a detailed document that describes and sets out service delivery conditions and eligibility.

Fig 1 – NBK Participant Framework

There are many opportunities that should open up as a result of the NBK transformational programme. If you’d like to read about them, take a look at a previous blog post that sets out some of the future directions and possibilities.

What actions need to be taken before the 31st July?

The final thing I want to focus on in this blog post is what people need to think about before we retire Copac and SUNCAT. There are two things that might be worth spelling out and underlining.

If you have any saved references in Copac, you need to export them before Copac disappears on July 31st. If you don’t, you will lose them. We won’t be taking them across to the new system. See this blog post for more information

Secondly … and I hope this isn’t news to anyone but you can never be too sure! … if you were previously contributing to Copac or SUNCAT but you have not yet engaged with us to get your data into the NBK, your data will not feature in Library hub services and will no longer be visible and discoverable. We are not exporting existing data from Copac and SUNCAT across to NBK services. It is a completely different process and workflow and we need institutions to get in touch with us to organise setting up a new regular export of data. 

We are happy to get into conversation with any library who has academic materials in their collections and would like to discuss getting their data into the NBK. Please drop us a line at: nbk.copac@jisc.ac.uk

In fact please use this email address for any queries or conversations you want to start around any of these issues.

But just to be clear … the really big message with this blog post is that Copac and SUNCAT will be retired on Wednesday 31st July 2019 and Library hub services will take their place. Please help us by making sure your colleagues and your library users are aware of this change. We will be producing some publicity materials in early July that institutions can use to publicise the service transition.

NBK data model

Since work on the NBK began in 2016 we have had many conversations with stakeholders, including current and potential contributing libraries, data suppliers, and those with an interest using the services we are building. These conversations have addressed a wide range of issues, including complex questions around data ownership. We have also been spending time learning more about the available technology. This input has helped us clarify our thinking and has resulted in the multi-database model of the NBK presented at the end of last year. This approach offers much great flexibility in how we manage the data and the way we can develop and support the increasing range of services and facilities that the NBK will underpin.

 

All incoming data flows into the NBK database (the data lake), with MARC data being stored as supplied. From here all relevant data is passed to the other databases. There are significant benefits in this multi-database approach to managing the data relating to the varied use cases for the different services being created, the varying data sources for different services, data licensing considerations, technical considerations, and increasing integration between Jisc services.

The NBK data lake

The data lake allows us to manage the data flow and the records are held as supplied by each contributor before any of the data standardisation activity undertaken for the Library Hub Cataloguing service. This will support flexible development as the data management evolves. For example, as/when we change the record processing for the Library Hub Cataloguing service we will be able to extract and reprocess sub-sets of data without having to re-request data loads from contributors.

There has been a lot of community interest in the potential for tools to support libraries in upgrading data where appropriate. We will be exploring developments in this area using the unprocessed data from the NBK data lake, working with the Elastic Search technology we’re using for the Library Hub Discover service. Any work we can do to support libraries in enhancing record quality will then feed into both the Cataloguing and Discover services, as well as benefiting the library’s local catalogue users.

Whilst the NBK data lake will initially feed into two databases, it is possible that there will be other variants in future. For example, we will be working with libraries and other Jisc services to explore problems in the area of eResource management, where subsets of NBK records may be combined with data from other sources to offer support in this complex area.

The Library Hub Cataloguing Service

By having a dedicated cataloguing database we can focus on data quality. We have heard strong views on a number of issues, for example the merger of RDA and AACR2 source records during the deduplication process. So as the Cataloguing service develops we will be consulting on all aspects, in particular issues relating to data quality, data deduplication and merged record creation.

Having a cataloguing database also gives us flexibility in data management. So we will be including records from sources that are of specific value for cataloguing, for example Library of Congress data, whilst excluding data from contributors that do not use MARC, to help maintain the overall quality of the database. In addition, data licensing restrictions mean that not all records can be made available for shared cataloguing. By completely excluding such records from the cataloguing database this simplifies the data management and provides an assurance to contributors and data suppliers that their records are not being shared inappropriately.

The Library Hub Discover service

The Library Hub Discover service will build on the work of Copac, where the focus is on coverage. An end-user must trust that they are seeing the full picture of a library’s holdings, so we will continue to include all records from a contributing library, regardless of quality. We will also be including records from all data suppliers as we will not be making any of the data available in MARC format.

For Discover we also need to maximise deduplication, whilst having the flexibility to show the original contributed records. The emphasis in the deduplication and record creation is on creating the best, most complete, record for resource discovery purposes. And as we do for Copac, we will continue to buy in data, such as table-of-content and book cover images, to enhance the value of the records to the end-user.

Coverage and deduplication are also the essential elements for supporting the Library Hub Compare service (CCM tools). This will also benefit from the flexibility and analytics capabilities of the Elastic Search open source technology being used for the Discover & Compare database and we will be exploring the way we can use this to best effect with the Collection Management community to create a more flexible and interactive service.

The NBK service development work is taking place within the context of wider Jisc development activity that is focused on bringing related services together to provide more effective service presentation and improved user workflows. The Library Hub Discover interface is being developed within this context and it will be facilitated by working with Elastic Search, providing flexible search development. It also provides consistency of underlying technology with other Jisc services increasing the potential for effective service integration, where appropriate.

For the future

The new NBK system model has emerged from working with community members, data suppliers and others. This approach offers us the best way to allow each service to have a clear focus, and enable services to evolve over time in the ways that best support the core users of that service, as well as supporting ongoing experimentation and new service development. This does create additional work in the short term, but we feel this is an important investment in the long term sustainability of the services being built on the NBK, both now and in future.

Searching Library Hub Discover Pilot service

Whether you want a quick and simple search, or something more complex and specific, the newly launched Discover pilot service, part of the new Library Hub service, will meet your needs. The Discover pilot allows you to easily and quickly cross-search the catalogues of (currently) 49 UK HE, specialist, and national libraries, with another 62 waiting to load, and many more on the way to contributing.

If you take a look at the new Library Hub Discover pilot interface, the first thing you’ll see is the large single search box:

Although the search box looks simple, it’s hiding some useful advanced functionality which is built-in to the database and can be accessed by using specific commands in the search box.

These include the ability to search within specific fields:

  • title:
  • author:
  • publisher:
  • subject:
  • keyword:
  • held-by:

This last allows you to limit your search by library, and requires use of our library codes.

You can also use Boolean operators & | and – (AND, OR, and NOT). The NOT search is something that users have mentioned as desirable in Copac feedback, and we’re pleased to be able to include it in Library Hub Discover.

You can also use wildcards, fuzzy searching, and phrase searching. For more information on how to use all of these options, see https://libraryhub.jisc.ac.uk/discover/help

We will also be building these detailed search options into the interface as an advanced search form, along with facets for result refinement. Interface development is ongoing and we would appreciate comments as the work continues, using the Feedback option on each screen.

Compare

These search options will also be available in the Library Hub Compare interface, which will allow libraries to undertake collection analysis and benchmarking through searching or batch upload of standard or local numbers.

Visualisations of search results will be available to enable easy interpretation of collection comparisons, plus export facilities to support further analysis.

This Compare functionality will be useful to libraries wishing to manage their acquisitions, deaccessioning, and physical space, individually, regionally, consortially, and nationally.

During the pilot stage Compare will be evolving to replicate the functionality of the existing CCM Tools service.  The full Compare service will be launching at the end of July and additional functionality will be developed based on feedback from users. Join us at UKSG where we will demo the new Discover and Compare interfaces at the Jisc stand (nos. 52/ 53) on Monday 8th and Tuesday 9th April at 5pm. More details are available on our Events page.

Agreements with Data Suppliers – Statement from BDS

For the NBK Programme to fulfil its stated aim of providing a comprehensive view of the UK national collection and for libraries and researchers to get the most value out of using it, the database must be (as far as possible) an accurate and up-to-date reflection of all the holdings of university, national and specialist libraries in the UK. Many of these libraries rely extensively on commercial data suppliers to provide timely, high-quality metadata that they do not have the time or resources to create themselves. MARC format records are labour-intensive to create and have a commercial value that may be undermined if Jisc was to make them freely available via the Library Hub Cataloguing service

We have, therefore, been in discussion with a number of suppliers about the use of commercially-sourced bibliographic data in Jisc’s Library Hub services and are pleased to announce that we have come to an initial agreement with Bibliographic Data Services Ltd (BDS) about the terms of use of their data.

BDS have released the following statement:

“In recognition of the investment undertaken by Jisc to support academic libraries via the National Knowledge Base (NBK) programme, BDS has agreed to support this initiative by allowing data created at BDS, and already held in member libraries’ catalogues to be made available to the NBK user community for resource discovery purposes in a non-MARC format.

BDS data will not be held in the (NBK) Library Hub Cataloguing module and will not be shared with WorldCat, but is available via direct subscription to BDS services, or through arrangements in place with book suppliers.”

We are in discussion with other suppliers and Dawson Books and Askews & Holts Library Services have also indicated that they are content to take the same position as BDS on the supply of their data into the Jisc Library Hub Discover platform.

Our intention is to try and get clear confirmation from all relevant data suppliers to UK libraries and then to present the agreements reached and the methods of identifying provenance as clearly and concisely as possible.

Whilst these initial agreements represent good progress, Jisc and data suppliers are still looking to maximise prospects for introducing efficiencies into the library data marketplace and are continuing discussions to see if there is a more transformative model that can be agreed that is protective of commercial interests whilst at the same time enhances data provision for the NBK library community.

Watch this space!

Library Hub pilot services: Discover and Cataloguing live

We are very pleased to announce that the launch today of the first two Library Hub pilot services, Discover and Cataloguing.

The Library Hub Discover service is a resource discovery interface, giving users free access to search and discover holdings of a subset of the library catalogues contributed to the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase. This pilot uses the initial elements of our new interface designs.

The Library Hub Cataloguing service allows eligible libraries to search and download MARC records for use in their local catalogue. This service is available through a web interface and Z39.50 connection, both of which will require authentication. Access is available to current Library Hub contributors. To request access, please complete this form.

Both of these services currently contain limited data and functionality, and we will be making regular changes and updates during the pilot phase, up to the full service launch on 31st July. For more information on what is available in these pilot services, please see our About and FAQ pages.

We know that the community has been eagerly awaiting the outputs of the NBK project, and are keen to share these early services with you. Feedback gathered during the pilot phase will lead into the full service development.

We are grateful for the work of our service delivery partner OCLC, and all of the support from the library community, and look forward to sharing more exciting service developments with you over the next few months.

Driving Transformation with the NBK – where have we got to and where next?

This coming Monday (February 4th 2019) we are intending to make two new NBK pilot interfaces available. Discover will give users free access to search and discover holdings of library catalogues that have been contributed to the NBK; this will initially have limited data coverage and will offer an early view of the new interface. Cataloguing will allow eligible (logged in) users to search for and download MARC catalogue records. These two functions will be soft-launched as the first Jisc products to emerge as part of a remodeled offer that we will be referring to as ‘Library Hub‘ – which will, in due course, provide a portal to the various Jisc services that support the library community in the UK (see the previous blog post by Siobhán Burke for more details). More information about how to access the new services will be announced at launch early next week.

Where have we got to?

In terms of overall progress, the availability of the Jisc Library Hub Discover and Cataloguing interfaces will effectively signal the start of the countdown to the retirement of Copac and SUNCAT at the end of July this year. For those in the community that have grown accustomed to those services reliably being available whenever libraries and their users need them, there may be some trepidation about talk of ‘retirement’, particularly in an era when it has become commonplace to hear about ambitious IT projects foundering under the pressure of real world implementation. We hope, therefore, it is reassuring to see these pilot services being launched (and then further developed) well in advance of them taking over from their venerable predecessors.

In terms of what users can expect at this stage from the data that is currently in the system: Discover will be going live with a limited number of library catalogues, with the remainder to follow shortly; we will be gathering feedback as we continue to release further functionality and load more contributors’ catalogues. Cataloguing will contain data that can be used for shared cataloguing and will include the majority of the catalogues we have received, the rest will be loaded as soon as possible. At launch, Cataloguing allows for download of a subset of MARC fields; thus, you may find that you are not downloading the full version of the record. We have endeavoured to ensure that all of the core bibliographic fields have been included, to provide you with useful and useable MARC records.

We’re excited to say that we have now received data from over 100 institutions across the spectrum of academic, specialist, and research libraries and this places us comfortably into territory that is comparable with the numbers contributing to Copac/SUNCAT. This is hugely significant. Those services built up that number of contributors over two decades and it is clear that the NBK has managed to replicate that position in just two years because it is understood by large parts of the community to be the logical next-generation successor to both of those trusted pieces of national data infrastructure.

Once the Discover and Cataloguing interfaces are launched, the Library Hub team will also be turning their attention to the development of the Library Hub Compare tool which will supersede the Copac Collections Management Tool and the SUNCAT Serials Comparison service by the time of full service launch in July 2019.

Where next?

Given that the NBK looks like it has the support and momentum to achieve its goal of aggregating library data at greater scale than has been possible before, this may be a good moment to remind ourselves what the NBK programme is aiming to achieve and why it’s going to be worth the effort and worth taking the time to build it in a sustainable and scaleable way.

Better visibility of library data

We want to work with all academic libraries in the UK to ensure that their collections are as visible as possible for a range of purposes. Whether the use case is for high-end research, for undergraduate study, to showcase institutional resources, to demonstrate collection strengths, for inter-library loan, to increase use of special collections … whatever the reason, every type of library will benefit from sharing their data with the NBK. If we have your data, as well as making it available through Jisc Library Hub interfaces, we can ensure that it is in a format that makes it easy for web-scale search engines such as Google to harvest it and make it discoverable to users who aren’t starting their searches using library tools. We will also work with our service delivery partner OCLC to make the data available via WorldCat.

Jisc Library Hub as catalyst for improving data quality and efficiency

If the community supports the concept of the Jisc Library Hub becoming a central ‘clearing house’ for the aggregation of library data, there is enormous potential for decreasing duplicate practices across the sector and to improve the quality of data that circulates around the data ecosystem/marketplace. As well as talking to libraries, we have also been in discussion with key suppliers of bibliographic data and there would appear to be appetite on both sides to use the Library Hub initiative to take a fresh look at the most efficient way that libraries can acquire high quality catalogue records whilst ensuring that the creators of those records are fairly and sustainably recompensed for their work. With a central view across the data, not only are the Library Hub team in a good position to negotiate with suppliers on behalf of the community, they can also work with individual or groups of libraries to deliver enhanced data back to them.

e-Book, e-Journal and Open Access Data

In addition to aggregating library catalogue data, the Library Hub will increasingly look to aggregate (or link to) other useful sources of data. We are already working with partners such as HathiTrust and the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB) to include their data into the system. We are in discussion with OCLC to see to what extent they can share data about eBooks that they create on behalf of publishers. As part of the ongoing negotiations referred to above, we may also be in a position to work with university purchasing consortia to insert clauses into national procurement frameworks that specify levels of quality and conditions around the reuse of data that is supplied alongside e-Book materials. This is aligned with the recommendations from a recent report that we commissioned from Ken Chad Consulting Ltd. – Ken Chad Report Summary. [Clicking on the link will download a Powerpoint slide deck – 192kb]

Trustworthiness and currency of data

The quality and comprehensiveness of data is a core requirement of Library Hub services but another critical factor is the currency of data. In future we want to work with the community to ensure that wherever possible we are harvesting their data using an automatic workflow on a weekly basis so that the Library Hub becomes the most trusted resource possible in terms of the accuracy of current holdings data. Ideally, we want to go further than that and also work with libraries to access their circulation data which then provides opportunities to dig into intriguing analytics around the usage of resources. Looking at sector-wide patterns (in conjunction with data from other Jisc services such as JUSP and KB+) and feeding that data back to libraries could help inform acquisition policy and collection development strategies. Linking resource usage to student achievement is a very ambitious goal but would provide valuable business intelligence for institutions.

Collection management and data-driven decision-making

If the community supports Jisc Library Hub to become the trusted and comprehensive source of data for the sector that it aspires to be, it will essentially be building itself a new level of collection management capability that will enable libraries to make important and far reaching decisions about their collections. By having a clear, current and comprehensive view of library holdings (and e-Journal and e-Book collections), they will be able to make confident data-driven decisions about resources, especially where low-use collections appear to be providing excessive redundancy in the context of regional or national availability; or where digital surrogates or versions provide more effective provision than their print equivalents.

And finally ….

The Library Hub team at Jisc (working closely with OCLC colleagues) have been incredibly busy over this last phase, maintaining a high standard of current Copac service delivery as well as working towards this exciting milestone in the NBK work programme. The services we are launching on Monday are the next step along the way. We’ve still got a long way to go but if we stay focused on the opportunities and the benefits that we can deliver by all working together, it may be possible by the end of 2020 to deliver the kind of transformation that was imagined by the National Monograph Strategy way back in 2013.

 

Our roadmap for transforming Jisc’s Library Support Services

Jisc has been working on a transformation programme to develop a more effective, efficient and cohesive set of library services to meet the needs of its members and deliver a number of benefits.

The programme includes seven separate Jisc services: Copac Collection Management Tools; Copac; Jisc Collections; Knowledge Base+; JUSP; SUNCAT and Zetoc; as well as the RLUK shared cataloguing service. The transformation will redevelop these services in a number of phases, delivering them in a fresh, streamlined and sensible way. Rather than visiting eight separate and distinct services, users will encounter only three sites which will encompass all the existing service functionality. The three new service areas have been formally named under a new collective offer, Library hub, with individual names reflecting the functions that each area delivers. The new names, indicating the consolidation of current services, are listed below.

New service area Current service
Discover & Compare Copac Collection Management Tools
Copac
RLUK shared cataloguing service
SUNCAT
Zetoc
Collections plus Jisc Collections
Knowledge Base+
Analytics JUSP

Benefits to you

The transformation programme is intended to bring about key benefits that will improve our offer both in the short term and into the future. The developments will save users time in using our services, making the experience simpler and more intuitive. Detailed benefits and what the programme will deliver are below:

  1. We will simplify our service portfolio so that it is easy to understand, provides clarity about what our services do and how they support your work.
  2. We will implement a modern and consistent design across our services delivered to accessibility standards, providing the same experience for any user, making it easier to move between services.
  3. We will enable you to exploit data held within Jisc’s services to support you to do your job more efficiently and effectively
  4. We will extend automation over manual processes within and across our services, enabling users to exploit the data within more efficiently.
  5. We will coordinate and consolidate our service communications, including our training provision, which will be made simpler via the clear and consistent offer.
  6. The transformation of our infrastructure will ensure that our services can more easily accommodate and support changes in our sector into the future.

 

How will TLSS deliver the benefits?

The TLSS programme involves several different and wide-ranging projects, including both individual and overlapping, cross-service projects. These are listed below:

Of these, the user experience re-design of the service interfaces is the one that will have the most immediate impact to using the services.

User experience and redesign

Over the last year, we have been working with user experience consultants to plan and progress a way forward that will deliver the coherent vision mentioned above. As part of that process, we have had input from service users, as well as extensive research into the services and workshops with service teams.

The conclusion of our planning work produced a roadmap for delivery which will see the consolidation of the seven services listed above into three distinct service areas described by their functional areas and shown below:

  1. The Discover and Compare functional area incorporates four of our Discovery services, plus the RLUK shared cataloguing service, which will essentially bring together the outputs of the NBK project with the alerts function from the Zetoc service.
  2. Buy and Manage, or Collections plus as the interface will be named, will merge the KB+ service functionality with the upcoming Jisc Collections e-commerce site.
  3. Analyse usage data, or Analytics, although currently only includes JUSP, the expectation is that over time, other usage or data related services could be incorporated with a wider scope than e-resources data, for example.

Phased delivery and next steps

The new designs and interfaces will be delivered in phases through 2019 and 2020. The first phase will see the release of the Discover interface and more detail on that will be coming in February 2019.

Why are we doing TLSS?

The origins of this programme stem from an extensive review of our library support services in 2015, which had input from 80 UK academic library staff as well as UK stakeholder groups SCONUL and RLUK. The review was instigated as it was recognised by Jisc that its offer was found to be fragmented, complicated and service-driven, rather than being driven by the needs of service users. Also, we were keen to ensure that our services remained valuable for our members in an environment where libraries face both fundamental challenges and opportunities. The review outlined a number of recommendations, which have formed the basis of this programme. A summary of the review, Jisc library support services: enhancing efficiency and effectiveness, is available on the Jisc website: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/reports/library-support-services-enhancing-efficiency-and-effectiveness.