Collection Management: Share the Experience @ event summaries

Summaries of Collection Management: Share the Experience events from 2015 – 2019 are provided below:
Collections Management: Share the Experience @ Royal Holloway 11th & 12th June 2019
This year’s Collection Management: Share the Experience event, our 5th, was extended to become a two day affair, hosted in the beautiful surroundings of Royal Holloway, University of London.  Thanks to the tireless commitment of David Morgan and his colleagues at Royal Holloway library, and the many presenters who contributed, we were treated to a wide ranging, challenging and fascinating selection of presentations and workshops.
Presenters have been kind enough to share their presentations as follows:
Making moves – lessons from a library migration David Morgan (Royal Holloway)
Getting the balance right Catherine Parker (University of Huddersfield)
Collection categorisation break out session notes David Morgan (Royal Holloway) and Frances Machell (University of Birmingham),  Plus case studies from Bristol, Leeds, York and RHUL
Collaborative collection management updates: Nick Barratt (Senate House); Jane Daniels (WHELF); Suzy Cheeke (GW4); Lorna Mitchell (SCURL); Diana Massam (Jisc)
Stock management – helping customers find their books Natasha Viner (University of Manchester)
Academic engagement – shall we get engaged? Ann Stairmand-Jackson and Graham Gamblin (Birmingham City University)
UKRR – from project to service Andy Appleyard (British Library)
NBK updates Diana Massam, (Jisc)
Breakout – Visualising UKRR for monographs plus padlet summary of inputs Theo Stubbs (Imperial College)
NBK Community Data Groups updates Amy Staniforth (Aberystwyth University) (presented by Jane Daniels)
Metadata Summit: report Jane Daniels (Cardiff Metropolitan University); Suzy Cheeke (University of Bristol)
University of Birmingham’s new library – 3 years on Frances Machell (University of Birmingham)
Integrating collection management Robin Armstrong-Viner (University of Kent)

Collections Management: Share the Experience @ Edinburgh 29th June 2018
The fourth national Collection Management event was hosted by the University of Edinburgh Library on 29th June in the beautiful Edinburgh sunshine!  It was another day of fascinating presentations, a really thought provoking breakout session and plenty of discussion and debate.  The success of these events lies as much in the connections and informal discussions between delegates as in the range of formal sessions.  To me, there is definitely a sense that a professional community of practice has developed around collection management with these events as a focus.
The 5th event is already in the pipeline, probably to be held in the summer 2019, so keep an eye out for announcements on the mailing list.
In the meantime, the presenters at CM@ Edinburgh have kindly agreed to share their presentations below:
Hannah Mateer, University of Edinburgh  Collections management at Edinburgh
Anna Grigson, LSE Making an exhibition of our shelves: engaging users with print collections
Amy O’Donohoe, Royal Holloway, University of London Data collection for collections management Plus Slide Notes
Karen Thomas, Suzy Cheeke, Jan Davey, University of Bristol Breakout session: The decision tree and collection management plus summary of themes which emerged from discussion during the session.
Ian Jennings, University of Leeds  Collections management at Leeds
Jill Evans, SCURL
Jane Daniels, WHELF
Matt Wigzell, White Rose
Suzy Cheeke, GW4
Dr Nick Barrett, University of London Libraries
Diana Massam, National Bibliographic Knowledgebase
Kevin Wilson, LSE How do our collections support and reflect teaching and research at LSE

Collections Management: Share the Experience @ Hull 7th September 2017
The University of Hull Library hosted a third national Collections Management event on Thursday 7th September.  As UK City of Culture 2017 it was a great time to visit the city and another stimulating and lively day was had by all.  Thanks to RLUK for administrative support.
The presenters have all kindly agreed to make their presentations available:
Neil Grindley & Bethan Ruddock, Jisc The National Bibliographic Knowledgebase: project update
David Morgan, Royal Holloway, University of London Project Management in Libraries
Ruth Elder, University of York Applying a collections categorisation framework at York: a pilot project at the University of York
Hannah Mateer, University of Edinburgh Collections Rationalisation at the University of Edinburgh
Vanessa McHugh, University of Manchester From here to posterity: managing low use collections at the University of Manchester
Maggie Sarjantson & Lisa McFarlane, University of Hull From Spa town to City of Culture: decommissioning a campus library

On Thursday 30th March, Michael Williams and his team opened the doors of the Bodleian Libraries Book Storage Facility in Swindon, having given members of the Collection Management community a rare opportunity to visit.  Anne Worden, who visited from the University of Portsmouth, kindly agreed to us posting her report on our blog:
Visit to Bodleian Libraries Book Storage Facility, Swindon, 30/3/17
Oxford opened this facility in October 2010 as a replacement for multiple other stores, including a salt mine in Cheshire, which were becoming very expensive. It is in one corner of a 17 acre site which the university bought and they will be expanding the current warehouse over the next 4 years at the same time as building a store for the Oxford University museums.
The current capacity is 13 million items with 8.9m being stored, so about three quarters full. They “ingest” (accession) about 7,000 new items per week, making just under 400,000 each year. The conditions meet BS5454 and PD5454, with the temperature being 17.5°C (+ or – 1°C) and the humidity 52% (+ or – 5) – 15,000 sprinkler heads are in place in case of fire. Items are stored in acid free, archival quality, strong cardboard box trays.
Stock is stored on 11m high, German-engineered (no leaning forward!!), metal shelves which are 70m long with 31 narrow aisles between them. Three aisles contain a huge run of map cabinets spread over 5 floors. All other items are stored by size and most have a barcode stuck on the top left hand corner to aid quick retrieval – those that don’t have the barcode stuck onto them have the barcode on a slip of paper sticking out the top but this isn’t ideal as the barcodes get mixed up when people borrow several items like this at the same time. Six forklift trucks are used to enable 8 retrievals of stock a day between 7am and 10pm, Monday to Friday – seeing the pod of the forklift rise up 10m to get something then move forward at that height to the next retrieval was quite a sight!
They get approximately 19,500 requests each month, a figure which has increased year on year. They think the increase is due to the speed and reliability of the service – vans deliver to libraries around Oxford twice a day and if you order by 10.30am in the morning, you can have the book the same day. Unexpectedly, medium use stock has been stored there as well as low use stock, as librarians have discovered that putting copies into the store actually makes them more accessible to users in different libraries around Oxford because of the frequent delivery service.
In addition to the delivery service, they also provide a scanning service and scan about 50-60 items per week in term. The reader gets a link to a server and then has 2 weeks to access the article/chapter. The scan stays on their system for a term just in case of retrieval problems, then gets deleted. They have just dropped the price of scans from £4 to £2 in order to encourage more use of this service.
There are 22 staff working in shifts and the key contact is Michael Williams, Head of Storage and Logistics. Because they will have spare capacity for the foreseeable future, they are keen to encourage other universities to use the facility – Cambridge are currently storing their newer legal deposit collection there whilst they wait for their own store to be built. Stock for other institutions is stored on separate aisles so can’t get mixed up with the Oxford stock. Michael said that he is happy to provide price estimates based on exact requirements.
Jenny Yaacob and I came away extremely impressed by the scale and efficiency of the whole set-up. If we were to consider off-site storage for legacy items, I would certainly recommend investigating what they could offer us, as nothing we could do ourselves would match their skilled operation.
AW 31/3/17

Collections Management: Share the Experience @ Bristol 2nd February 2016
The second national Collections Management event was hosted by the University of Bristol Library, in association with Jisc, RLUK and SCONUL.  It was a popular and  successful event stimulating discussion and debate from delegates representing the Collections Management community.
Presenters kindly agreed to make their presentation slides available as follows:
Jo Aitkins (University of Leicester), Chloe Barnes (University of Sussex) and Anna Grigson (LSE) took part in a panel discussion following on from themes raised at the York event.  Jo and Chloe produced slides on Gifts and Collection Management Policies respectively which are available here: Bristol Panel Slides.
Slides from the subsequent presentations are available as follows:
Neil Grindley, Jisc From Strategy to Solutions a National Bibliographic Knowledgebase
Frances Machell, University of Birmingham Eating the elephant: reclassification and preparation for a major library move
Laurence Bebington, University Of Aberdeen  Loosening the Bounds of Copyright and Licensing: How Recent Reforms to Copyright can Facilitate Better Collection Management and Access

Collections Management: Share the Experience @ York 7th July 2015
This inaugural event, hosted by the University of York Library in association with Jisc, RLUK and SCONUL was a very successful opportunity for the Collection Management community to meet, share good practice and discuss common issues and activities.
Presenters have kindly agreed to make their presentation slides available as follows:
The Dark Art of Managing an External Store Jo Aitkins (University of Leicester)
Developing and implementing a Library Collections Policy to deliver and support ‘more’ Laura Shanahan (University of Edinburgh)
Collections analysis at University of St Andrews Helen Faulds (University of St Andrews)
Collection development or data driven content curation? Rachel Kirkwood (University of Manchester)
Collaborative Collection Management: SCURL’s experience Richard Parsons and Jill Evans (SCURL)
WHELF: Collections Management Collaboration within Wales Mark Hughes (Swansea University)

You said, we did: Library hub discover

You always hope for lots of feedback when launching a new service, especially when it replaces a service as long-standing and valued as Copac. We’d like to thank everyone who has taken the time to provide us with feedback on the new Discover service.

We’ve been using this feedback to help us identify and prioritise areas for improvement, and have already made some changes based on what you’ve told us. Some examples of these are:

You said:

Make it easier to find the advanced search options.

We did:

Added an ‘advanced search’ tab, as well as the ‘more search options’ link.


You said:

Can you bring back the option to sort results e.g. by year published, which was available in COPAC? It is very helpful if you want to find e.g. the most recent thing written by someone.

We did:

The Discover results list is now sortable by date (oldest first), date (newest first), title (A-Z), title (Z-A), and rank.


You said:

Make it compatible with Zotero as COPAC was.

We did:

Reinstated COinS which allows Zotero and Mendeley to work on Discover.


You said:

Fix the connector with the British Library

We did:

Worked with the British Library to enable linking from their catalogue to Discover.


You said:

Having done a ‘Basic Search’ with too many results, it would be good when you click on ‘More Search Options’ to have the original keywords carried across to the Advanced search, rather than just reach a blank screen.

We did:

Clicking ‘More search options’ now retains your original search terms in the Advanced search screen.


You said:

Display problem with the library live holdings data for journals – details appear briefly then disappear

We did:

Changed how we handled live holdings lookup and display to resolve this problem.


This is a non-exhaustive list: there are other issues we’ve resolved, and some that we’re still working on and hope to be able to implement in the future. Look out for more ‘you said, we did’ blog posts with information about these.

If you’d like to let us know what you think about Library hub discover please use the ‘give feedback’ link in the footer of each page, or email, with ‘Library hub discover’ in the subject line.

Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities – what’s not to like?

The full title of the DCDC annual conference, Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities has a ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’ quality to it. Anyone who has attended a DCDC conference will probably have come away with at least two impressions of the event. Firstly, surprise at the sheer quantity and diversity of material that is being carefully curated and made accessible by libraries, archives and digital collections. And secondly, just how committed and passionate people are about the materials, records, documents, images, recordings, films, etc. that they are responsible for. The extent to which these archives and collections are being used in research, teaching and audience engagement is impressive.

DCDC18 welcome reception – Ikon Gallery, Birmingham

The DCDC Conference was first organised by RLUK (Research Libraries UK) and TNA (The UK National Archives) in 2013 and from the outset appears to have correctly identified a gap in provision for an event that enables organisations with responsibility for collections to discuss issues, barriers, problems and opportunities. The value of congregating in one place, face-to-face, for a few dedicated days to share stories and swap notes may be tricky to formally quantify in terms of a cost-benefit calculation – but it is relatively easy to justify in terms of connections made, ideas sparked, inspiration, motivation, and knowledge gained.

For example, at the 2017 conference, I found myself having to completely recalibrate my ideas about risk management after listening to the courageous exploits of North Somerset Council as they worked in secret with the anonymous artist Banksy to create a complex and provocative art installation in support of their regeneration plan for Weston-Super-Mare.1 In 2018, Jo Fox’s keynote made the increasingly urgent and critical connection between the role of archives and the emergence of the concept of ‘fake news’ – both in terms of the importance of ensuring an accurate cultural record and of the implicit problems of archiving propaganda.2

In 2019, Jisc joined forces with RLUK and TNA as a co-organiser of the conference series and we are delighted to be taking a more hands-on role with an event that we have always viewed as an essential date in the calendar. One of the biggest issues that organisations and individuals who are responsible for collections face is how best to exploit all the opportunities that digital technologies offer. Whilst our organising partners are clearly ideally placed to represent and champion libraries and archives as types of institution, Jisc is uniquely suited to provide support and advocacy for a wide range of relevant digital content, methods and solutions.

Working collaboratively to provide a forum for diverse communities to come together to explore best practice and find ways to get useful and interesting content in front of learners and researchers is an exemplary way for Jisc to work on behalf of its members. Not only does it practically support discovery and help to disseminate collections, it is a great opportunity to push the digital agenda and to spot trends, identify gaps and clarify requirements across a wide range of stakeholder organisations.

We are looking forward to welcoming delegates to Birmingham on 12th – 14th November 2019 for what promises to be another diverse and inspiring programme of sessions and workshops. Registration closes on 11th October so if you haven’t got your tickets yet – you need to get a move on!

Register at the conference website –

  1. Dismaland by Banksy –
  2. Jo Fox (Director of the Institute of Historical Research), ‘Fake News’ Into the 21st Century, DCDC18,

Licence subscriptions manager launches today

Our new Licence subscriptions manager service launched today, which is a milestone in transforming our offer to libraries. This new service replaces the catalogue and ‘My Account’ functions of the Jisc Collections website and provides new and improved features to make the process of subscribing and managing your Jisc Collections negotiated agreements easier and faster.

Access the service:

We will continue to develop and enhance Licence subscriptions manager and welcome your feedback. Read on to see the improvements available now.

Modern, clear and intuitive user interface

The new service has a modern, clear and intuitive user interface, which meets the latest accessibility standards and uses the same design as other Jisc services, including the new Library hub services.

From the homepage, you can see the latest products added to the catalogue and link to related services such as Chest and KB+. You can quickly access our about section which links to Banding information, FAQs and guides via tabs and login to access all your information.


Improved search and browse capabilities

The catalogue comes with several existing and new features, including filtering on free products and those with a free trial; filter by account and resource type. You can search just on the name of the product or the full text. There are also advanced search features including wildcard and phrase searching. Full catalogue records and further features are available on login.



Login, My Subscriptions and My Account

Once logged in, as well as access to full product catalogue records, the results are automatically tailored to your Jiscband. Your band is displayed alongside your organisations name in the top right. You can hide your active subscriptions o that you see which products you do not yet subscribe to. Add a further filter and see which products have been recently added or were new this year or are going to be expiring soon.

In the My subscriptions area, you can also filter by the status of your subscriptions: Active; Cancelled; Expired; Pending Start; and Pending Payment. You can also export all your subscriptions or export them individually. You can access further information about each subscription as well, including financial details.



From the My Account area, you can view your own details and your team view and update access details and view the monthly negotiation reports from Jisc Collections You can also view saved products in the Wishlist area and a new quotation feature, helping you to keep track of quotes from publishers.




Further information about the move to Licence subscriptions manager is available in these FAQs. If you have other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the helpdesk.

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:

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 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:

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.

Retention information & bibliographic metadata: CMCAB consultation

The Jisc Collection management Community Advisory Board is seeking the views of the community about models for incorporating retention information in bibliographic metadata.
A draft working paper was produced by the University of York, initially for internal discussion, which we felt was useful to share more widely. While the paper does not reflect any concrete decisions it raises issues and ideas which are useful. Please read the paper, ‘University of York_ 583_983 Best Practice (002) before completing the survey.
The survey can be found here. It will remain open until close of business on Friday 28th June. 
Following this survey, the CMCAB will produce recommendations and seek to encourage the community to work towards the adoption of common principles and goals in this area.

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.