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
RLUK shared cataloguing service
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.

NBK Progress and Priorities

We have been busy working on the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK) project over the last few months, and would like to update you on some key areas of progress.

Updated NBK Data Model

As part of an evolving strategy to optimise prospects for delivering the best possible functionality that the NBK can provide we have formally opted to design a live service delivery model that is reliant on a dual platform approach.

The above figure represents how we see data flowing into the various components and interfaces of the NBK system. The crucial innovation with this data model over the original conception for the system is the inclusion of an Elasticsearch indexing engine which will provide speed and flexibility for the discovery layer. The division of data into a cataloguing instance and a discovery instance also greatly simplifies issues around data licensing, rights & reuse. All data that is sent to the OCLC CBS system for inclusion into the copy cataloguing system will be of reasonable or good quality and will be rights cleared for the NBK community to download and reuse in MARC format. All data that is submitted for inclusion into the NBK will be included in the Discovery instance of the system and will represent a comprehensive view onto the holdings of NBK libraries.

NBK Interface Development (Feb / Jul 2019)

We are working towards launching some key components of a live NBK service in early February to replace the currently available beta interface but we are intending this to be a ‘soft launch’, as none of the NBK services will by that point be available in full. We are working with a design and UX agency to design the new resource discovery interface, and we hope to be able to show you these designs, along with the new service names, in the first week of February.

The full launch of the NBK services will be at the end of July 2019.

NBK Community Survey

The NBK Community Data Groups ran a survey over the summer and the response rate was excellent (99 institutions completed the survey).  The responses have provided us with a fascinating set of data which has already proved invaluable in informing our work. A headline summary of the results is now available on the CCM Blog. The slides feature visualisations of a selection of 21 questions that the extensive survey posed to the community.

Library figures

We now have 170 institutions who have agreed to participate in the NBK. Of those, 96 have sent data for inclusion in the database. You can see the most current list of contributing libraries here.

If you have any questions or comments about the NBK, please contact nbk.copac@jisc.ac.uk

Jisc and CNI leaders’ conference – Monday 2 July 2018: registration now open

Digital technology is revolutionising research. At the same time, research processes and practice are modernising and these developments mean a new role for the library in supporting both the research institution and strategic requirements of the university.

Research is a global endeavour and supporting modern research requires changes at institutional, national and international levels.

The library has always been a key pillar in supporting the pursuit and acquisition of knowledge and – along with other actors – need to both adapt and lead change to achieve the aspirations of modern innovative research.

Digital will power new forms of research and open up new opportunities. Data will be a key driver in this, leading to increases in the speed of access to outputs, greater collaboration and sharing across disciplines. It will lead to more openness and transparency in the research process, generating more value and new discoveries, as well greater impact and trust.

Developments such as these will enable greater partnerships and collaborations, amongst researchers globally and with industry and society at large, helping meet the goals of knowledge exchange and those of policy makers, as well as delivering wider impact and benefits to society.

There are many challenges we face to ensure we can reap the full benefits, not least the skills required by researchers and those who support them in this technology driven landscape. How can institutions adapt to ensure they have the right skills, support and staff embedded across the research life-cycle?

All of this will radically change the nature of research and how the future library can not just support these developments, but is a driver to deliver them and the benefits they can bring.

The 12th biannual Jisc and CNI conference will bring together leading experts in digital scholarship from the US and UK to explore, and share leading international practice and policy, addressing these themes.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Professor Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor, University of Sussex
  • Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s librarian, University of Oxford
  • Susan Gibbons, university librarian and deputy provost, Yale University
  • Dan Cohen, vice provost for information collaboration, dean of the libraries, Northeastern University
  • Roly Keating, chief executive, The British Library

As well as representatives from a further 20 international research organisations including Mellon Foundation, University of California, Berkeley, University of Manchester, University of Edinburgh and Wellcome Trust.


For more information and to book your place visit


Explaining how Jisc supports the e-resources management lifecycle

A new animation has been developed, which aims to explain more clearly to you, our services users and potential users, just how our services support your activities around e-resources management. Visit our ‘How we support e-resources management‘ page to explore the information about our services and activities. (Hover over any of the circles to find out more.)


Quick guides now available

We have also developed some quick guides covering key areas of the e-resources management lifecycle, in a little more detail. These areas are purchase and licence management; supporting discovery and delivery; tracking ongoing access; and finally collection evaluation and review. These are available from our Guides page.

NBK on the road

The NBK team are out and about, speaking at and attending lots of events over the next few months. Here’s where you can see us talk about the NBK:

23 April: NBK Community Roadshow, Staffordshire University 

9-10 May: CILIP Wales conference

24 May: WHELF Collection Development event

11-13 June: SCONUL Conference

13 June: WHELF/HEWIT colloquium

25-26 June: Interlend 2018

29 June: Share the Experience Collection Management day at the University of Edinburgh

4-6 July: LIBER annual conference

6 August: NBK Community Roadshow, Jisc London

9 October: NBK Community Roadshow, National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh



Join Jisc at UKSG 2018

Jisc will be delivering more sessions than ever at this year’s UKSG conference in Glasgow. The scale reflects the breadth of our activities and where we are engaged on behalf of or in partnership with you, our members to deliver on your needs.

Our sessions include a number on open access from Liam Earney’s plenary with the National Library of Sweden on licence negotiation and the transition to open access to Chris Keene and Bas Cordewener exploring the challenges of open scholarship. Graham Stone explains the latest iteration of TERMS incorporating open access management alongside Peter McCracken from Cornell University and Jill Emery from Portland State University Library.

Other sessions demonstrate how Jisc is helping to support teaching and learning in FE and developing new funding models with a crowd-sourcing approach to digitisation. We also highlight how our analytics work is helping libraries to deliver impact through data visualisation initiatives. We also explore the negative impact for libraries and their users of poor quality metadata in the electronic resource supply chain. And finally there are two lightning sessions highlighting our approach to redeveloping our library support services and we present our Liberate service, an easy and affordable solution to managing access to digital content. We also have an additional session on delivering the NBK vision in partnership with OCLC and you can register for this special NBK session via Eventbrite.

See our Events page for full details of all our sessions and come and visit us during the conference at our exhibition stands 47 & 49. Come and speak to Siobhán Burke at the stand, where you can find out more about our transformation programme, and sign up to help us with our development to improve our services.

NBK beta resource discovery interface

We are pleased to announce the launch of a beta NBK resource discovery interface. At launch, this contains data from 43 NBK libraries, and over 6.8 million records. More libraries will be added during 2018, as their data is received and processed.

The beta resource discovery interface is primarily aimed at allowing contributing libraries to check and assess the processing of their data and the data matching procedure, and to give us feedback on how bibliographic and location data is handled. As we will be making changes based on this feedback, the NBK data handling in this beta interface should not be considered stable.

Contributing libraries will be sent information about how to supply feedback.

While other users are welcome to use the beta resource discovery interface, please be aware that neither the design, functionality, nor coverage reflect what will be available at the launch of the full NBK resource discovery interface in 2019. A separate project to design the NBK resource discovery interface will be running during 2018, and we are not currently requesting feedback on the design or functionality of the beta resource discovery interface.

If you have any questions, or are a library who would like to contribute to the NBK, please contact nbk.copac@jisc.ac.uk