Getting strategic insight from the HE library community: an update on the new Library Services Advisory Group

Our new strategic advisory group held its second meeting last month and is now fully up and running and in position to provide advice and guidance to Jisc on key developments that we are working on and engaging with on behalf of libraries.

Our chair is Mark Toole, Head of Libraries and Learning Resources at Nottingham Trent University and formerly the chair of the Knowledge Base+ Advisory Board. This was one of the groups from which this new group has emerged, the other being the Bibliographic Data Oversight Group (BIBDOG). To ensure that we had the most representative group we sought new members to ensure a variety of different institution types were represented, including Scotland and Wales. The group also includes representatives from our key sector partners and stakeholders: the British Library, RLUK and SCONUL. There are also members from Jisc whose responsibility is to update the group on Jisc activities and coordinate with other parts of Jisc, in particular our Open Access team. There is also coordination with other strategic groups such as the Jisc Collections Content Strategy Group (JCCSG) and the Collection Management Community Advisory Board ensuring we avoid operating in isolation and benefit from an open and shared, strategic approach. A full list of the group’s members is available on our Members page.

Among the key areas now recurring on the agenda are the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK) project and the Transformation of Library Support Services (TLSS) programme, including the redevelopment of the Jisc Collections website. The latest meeting was an opportunity to present our progress and get a steer on next steps. This is especially important where we will need libraries to actively work with us to achieve project goals, for example, supplying catalogue data to the NBK and working together to ensure that the data is as comprehensive, accurate and consistent as possible. We also presented a draft for comment of Jisc’s priority development goals for 2018 – 2022. This included a number of challenges for libraries and how Jisc could develop its services to assist in resolving those challenges. We have clear aims for this academic year so we sought feedback on new areas for 2018-19 such as use of analytics to improve student learning experiences and a potential role for Jisc to play in training around data literacy. On the data and analytics side, feedback was that libraries have useful data to contribute, for example, reading lists, and that this is an area that we should pursue. In fact, our Learning Analytics project is already exploring this and other library data. For training, partnering with SCONUL was a welcome suggestion and to develop communities of practice rather than Jisc developing and delivering training itself.

The terms of reference for the group are now available and you can also read the minutes from the first meeting in March 2017. The minutes for the December meeting will become available following approval at the next meeting later this year. Presentations from the meeting are available on the TLSS programme and NBK.

NBK Community Data Quality and Efficiency Task and Finish Groups

We would like to convene some funded community groups to look at issues and possible interventions that might be made to enhance the quality and efficiency of library bibliographic and holdings data.

As well as being of broad sectoral benefit, the objective of these groups will be to work on a set of structured challenges that will help to make the NBK data processes more efficient and the data in the NBK more effective. The challenges would build on the recently published ‘Understanding Collections Overlap’ report and the groups will be expected to creatively determine their own approaches and responses to relevant data issues.

In all areas the groups would be required to work closely and collaboratively with NBK service staff but it is anticipated that the issues in question will be ones that individual libraries will want to make progress on for their own benefit – as well as for the purpose of improving the quality and effectiveness of data across the sector and within the NBK.

A modest level of grant funding will further incentivise libraries to participate and will also ensure that Jisc is correctly positioned to use the outcomes as exemplars for the sector and to exploit the body of work as an NBK-related community resource.

Structured Challenges

The groups would be expected to coalesce around the following challenges:

  • How to optimise descriptive library metadata to most accurately describe collections for the purposes of the NBK?
  • What tools or support could Jisc provide to help a library identify, assess and upgrade records? (e.g. where there are inaccuracies, where they reflect older standards, or are incomplete)
  • What are the implications and conditions for libraries to accept a consolidated and enhanced ‘master record’ back into their local library catalogue?
  • How to work most effectively with different LMS systems in relation to the NBK and what is required in terms of information for vendors and peer support for solving technical issues?
  • What interventions would be most effective to optimise serials data for inclusion into the NBK?
  • How should the NBK toolkit/manual take shape and how should it be designed in terms of content and format so that it is most useful for the community?

Funding Available

Groups will be invited to bid for a grant that will go some way towards defraying the cost of participation – probably using a fairly low standard day rate. These grants will be negotiable depending on the number and nature of the groups proposed but would most likely be in the range of £10k – £20k per group.

Register your interest in participation

If you are interested in leading or participating in one or more of these groups, please send an email to:

The closing date for expressions of interest is: Friday 19th January 2018

The Task Groups kick off meeting will be held in London (venue to be confirmed) on Tuesday 13th February 2018

It would be helpful if you could state your role and affiliation and very briefly describe any specific interests you have in tackling library data quality issues. Please also insert “NBK Community Data Groups” in your subject line so that we can easily identify the nature of the message.

More details available here. (Clicking this link will download a Word document from the Jisc repository)

Over 40 libraries have contributed to the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK) so far. Will you be next?

We’re very pleased to report that we’re over half-way to our target of having 75 institutions represented on the NBK by the end of January 2018. We’ve just sent over our 40th and 41st institutions to be loaded onto the database, and we now have a great cross-section of UK HE and specialist libraries represented (see below for the full list), including some whose data was not previously available through Copac. And we have many more exciting institutions signed up to contribute over the next few months. Will you be one of them?

But our work is far from complete. Our aim by 2020 is to have every UK HE library included in the NBK, along with a healthy selection of specialist research libraries. This unprecedented scale and coverage will uncover the shape and scope of the national research collection. This will allow decisions to be made at a truly national level, while comprehensive local coverage will support robust regional and consortial decision-making.

So we’re issuing an invitation to all UK HE libraries to contribute their data. You may have been contacted already, but if you haven’t please don’t feel that you have to wait for us to contact you! With over 200 libraries to talk to we are very happy for you to initiate the conversation.

The NBK is provided as part of your core Jisc subscription, and there is no extra charge associated with contributing. If you would like to more information, please contact and we would be happy to discuss what it means for your institution.

If you’re ready to get involved now email and we’ll tell you what information we need from you and how you can send us your data. All of the supporting documentation is available on our contributor website (login with your usual institutional Shibboleth ID).

List of NBK participants, as of 20/11/17:

  • Bangor University
  • Birkbeck University
  • Bishopsgate Institute
  • British Library
  • British School at Rome
  • Cardiff University (plus NHS Wales libraries)
  • Hathi Trust
  • Institute of Ismaili Studies
  • Institute of Mechanical Engineers
  • LSE
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • National Trust
  • Northumbria University
  • Queen Mary, University of London
  • Royal Asiatic Society
  • Royal College of Music
  • Senate House Libraries (plus Bibliographical Society Library, Heythrop College, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Institute of Classical Studies, Institute of Historical Research, Wallace Collection, Warburg Institute)
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • SOAS
  • Trinity College Dublin
  • University of Aberdeen
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Edinburgh (plus Royal Observatory of Edinburgh)
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Leicester
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Oxford
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Sussex
  • University of York (plus York Minster, National Railway Museum)
  • Wellcome Trust

NBK: meeting other CBS partners

Lots of work is going on in the Jisc National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK) project to get the new database built and populated with data loads from UK HE and specialist libraries.

The database is being built by OCLC, on their CBS software which is already used to power national and regional bibliographic infrastructure in a number of countries, including in Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. Users of CBS attend a partners meeting once a year, and last week the Jisc NBK team attended our first partner meeting.

This was an excellent chance to hear about the initiatives being undertaken by other CBS partners, and how they’re using CBS with other technologies to power bibliographic and knowledge services. We were particularly interested by work being done by BSZ and GBV (VZG) in Germany, ABES in France and SwissBib in Switzerland which reflects many of the needs and use cases of the NBK and other Jisc Library Support Services. It’s reassuring to know what we are in line with the forefront of European bibliographic development, and to identify potential partners for knowledge-sharing.

Another important factor was to hear about how data from CBS can be used and customised for use with other systems. The NBK is committed to the Jisc Library Support Services Transformation project, and we need to ensure that the services that are built on the NBK reflect and conform to the Jisc LSS principles.

The first of these services, and your first chance to see the outputs of the NBK project, will come in January 2018, when we will be releasing the beta version of the Jisc NBK Resource Discovery Service.

Library Data Labs goes public!

The 12th Performance Measurement in Libraries conference has just concluded in Oxford and provided Jisc its first opportunity to publicly present the outputs of the Library Data Labs project, which ran in the summer of 2016. This is a Jisc and HESA collaboration to deliver community developed interactive, visualised dashboards via HESA’s Heidi Plus service. The presentation included demonstrations of the outputs which will be available for HESA members to use from September 2017*.

The conference

Lee Baylis, technical lead on the project, presented alongside myself, Siobhán Burke, Programme Manager for Library Support Services as part of a very packed conference programme and to a balanced audience of UK and international attendees. As well as a brief overview of the project and history, we quickly launched into a live demonstration of the 4 dashboards going into service in September. These are:

  • Benchmarking user satisfaction levels with library facilities. Using a number of parameters to build a set of comparable groups, this dashboard allows the user to better compare like with like and see the effects on the NSS scores.
  • Space Analysis v footfall & satisfaction. This dashboard presents options for each of the SCONUL space measures plotted against NSS scores to highlight where there may be correlations.
  • SCONUL Key Performance Indicators. Presenting key SCONUL measures as KPIs, allowing the user to benchmark their institution against their peers.
  • Teaching Excellence Framework NSS Explorer. This dashboard brings together the NSS scores with key SCONUL measures overlaid to show the variance of that measure, e.g. spend varies with NSS score.


The reaction from the audience was positive with a number of attendees coming to speak to both of us afterwards to find out more about all of our work in library data and analytics. Reaction was positive so much so that American colleagues in the room even asked if Jisc had an office in the States! One tweet from @LibPMC sums it up nicely:

Mind blown by @JISC library labs project in the Main Hall.

Future & further work

The presentation did not end there. The 4 dashboards going into service were not the only outputs from the Library Data Labs. Some of the development work has since found a more relevant place as part of Jisc’s Learning Analytics project as this project moves into a phase focusing on library data. In addition, the Jisc team who took part in Library Data Labs, have also taken forward their work from this project to the point where the JUSP service have developed new functionality for the service. In autumn 2017, a range of dashboards will be available to JUSP users based on a number of reports. The image below gives a flavour of what will be available.


And finally, there has also been a subsequent Library Labs team recently finished in July this year. That team have developed new dashboards including one showing NSS scores for all HE institutions versus key SCONUL metrics on expenditure over time. These will also go into service in September this year.

The full conference proceedings, including a more detailed paper on this presentation, will be available later in 2017 or early 2018.

If you want to keep up to date with developments in this space, then sign up to our mailing list:

* Subject to HEFCE and SCONUL approval for use of their data

Enhancing our library metadata supply chains – Jisc and partners publish an open letter to systems vendors and link resolvers

Jisc makes its metadata openly available under a CC0 licence in order to facilitate interoperability and the sharing of data between a variety of library management systems and discovery tools. It does so in a structured format in accordance with the requirements of agreed data models, defined standards and recommendations for the structure of e-resource information (e.g. COUNTER, ONIX-PL and KBART). This ensures that all parts of a library’s supply chain have access to all the information they need, whenever they need it. Jisc also aims to avoid duplication of effort by facilitating and encouraging the use and re-use of metadata, including by system vendors. However, while system vendors have embraced this option, their use has not been optimised thus far.

In order for libraries to have access to these datasets and fully exploit the functionalities of the systems in use, KB+ on behalf of Jisc, together with other non-commercial, national knowledge bases, ERDB-JP (Japan), ABES-BACON (France) and Bibsam (Sweden) have published an Open Letter to system vendors. The objective is to encourage a constructive dialogue to be able to maximise the impact of the metadata provided. The letter covers some key areas including the availability of metadata in their systems with recognition of the source e.g. KB+ and alerting features for users around updates to vendors’ knowledge bases. A request to receive an annual report of knowledge base usage is also included in the letter.

You can read the full text of the open letter on the KB+ website.

Jisc at UKSG 2017

This year’s conference saw a record number of Jisc presentations on the main programme, six in total, on a range of topics from University presses to a new research data shared service. Each one highlighting the increasing range of activities from Jisc in support of libraries and the scholarly communications sector.

There were also 3 additional sessions: the new partnership with OCLC to deliver a new National Bibliographic Knowledgebase; the celebration of 5 years of KB+ in service and a lightning update on Jisc’s services. This talk brought together speakers from across Jisc presenting the latest updates on key service elements. Siobhán Burke presented the Transformation of Library Support Services project; Jo Lambert highlighted JUSP developments in the areas of database and e-book statistics as well as upcoming data visualisations features; Helen Blanchett presented open access service developments, specifically Publications Router and Monitor Local and finally Mark Williams presented the upcoming Liberate service, offering an affordable managed IdP service for institutions. You can view the slides for this presentation on SlideShare and the main presentations are available via UKSG’s SlideShare site. A full list of our presentations and speakers is available on the Jisc website.

Overall, it was a very useful conference for Jisc to have the opportunity to meet with our members and also for Jisc Collections colleagues to meet face to face with publishers and other key stakeholders and we look forward to seeing you in Glasgow next year.

Transformation update: governance, NBK & data orchestration

Since the last update in November on how Jisc presents its Library Support offer, there has been a significant amount of progress made on key aspects of the Transformation project, both internally and externally. Internally, the focus has been on taking forward the Data Orchestration work, and to a lesser extent the workflow mapping and user interface design. Externally, we have created a new advisory group and announced our collaboration with OCLC to deliver a National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK).

New Advisory group

Externally, we now have a new stakeholder governance group called the Library Management and Bibliographic Data Services Advisory Group. This new group succeeds the Knowledge Base+ (KB+) Advisory Board and Bibliographic Data Oversight Group, and allows Jisc to consolidate the groups representing its library portfolio thus enabling a consistent approach to sector input in this area.

Members include those previously on the aforementioned groups, as well as some others so Jisc will have broad and strategic insight for its library portfolio. The first meeting will take place on 28th March and its first task will be to provide advice and guidance on recent Jisc developments around the collaboration with OCLC to deliver a National Bibliographic Knowledgebase and of course the transformation of Jisc’s Library Support Services.

National Bibliographic Knowledgebase

As of Late January 2017, Jisc has entered into a formal contractual relationship with OCLC to build, deliver and manage the NBK on behalf of the UK Library sector. The contract is initially for 3 years. Working closely with SCONUL, RLUK, the British Library and other stakeholders, the new service will help transform how libraries manage their collections, provide access to resources and collaborate with each other. It will provide a sustainable fit-for-purpose next generation national data infrastructure that practically supports libraries to make the transition from a print-first to a digital-first paradigm.

Following an extensive procurement and competitive dialogue process, Jisc selected OCLC as their service provider and partner to build and deliver the NBK. OCLC are uniquely positioned to make library data globally available via their WorldCat service and to connect library data-hubs at scale. They are a known quantity and already provide national and regional bibliographic infrastructure in a number of countries, including in Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Jisc has entered into a multi-year agreement with OCLC to work closely together to develop the solution that UK libraries need. Jisc will ensure that the service is owned and controlled by the community of libraries that contribute data to the aggregation and will share data management responsibility on the OCLC-provided CBS platform (Central Bibliographic System).

Data Orchestration

One the key aspects of that transformation is Data Orchestration. At the end of January, representatives from across Jisc’s Library Support services, including our Open Access services, met to discuss the work in detail. The session was co-facilitated by Owen Stephens, from Sero-HE, who co-authored the original Library Support Services report and myself. With a wide variety of roles, skills and experience on hand, from service managers to technical staff, from metadata experts to licensing and operations, the session was an opportunity to explore in detail the breadth of issues that need to be considered if the work is to succeed, whilst maintaining delivery of existing services. Issues which arose include:

  • Concept of data registries (e.g. organisations; journal titles; etc.) and their potential spectrum of simplicity to complexity
  • Data owner role – how is this to be accommodated in Jisc’s existing staff structure
  • Data clean-up and the effort required
  • Service delivery of data registries and when to switch

Although many issues arose throughout the open discussions, there was wide agreement from the group across those issues. For example, when the group was asked how they might implement a data registry, 3 separate groups reported a very similar process that any service would have to follow.

The group are also aware to be mindful of initiatives happening both within Jisc, as well as external data sources, for example, Ringgold & ISNI. However, one of the primary purposes of the transformation is to cohere our services and the control of our service data is the power behind some of our services, especially a trusted service like KB+. There is inherent risk in relying on sources outside of Jisc that would have to be borne in mind. This and other issues will be what the internal group will be tasked with resolving, through monthly meetings. The new Advisory Group will also advise; providing sector input and a sounding board for new approaches.

Understanding service workflows

Finally, some initial, internal work has begun which explores in detail the functions of all our Library Support Services. This will provide a comprehensive services overview, with a detailed understanding of each and enabling analysis of areas of duplication, for example.

New UK-wide service will transform library collaboration: The National Bibliographic Knowledgebase

The following text is the press release from Jisc and OCLC announcing their plan to collaboratively build and deliver the centrepiece system that was first envisaged in the National Monograph Strategy Roadmap (published in September 2014). That document talked about the need for a National Knowledgebase that would drive a range of functions and we are, following an extensive period of consultation, specification and service procurement, now in a position to work with OCLC and the library community to start building that system.


As part of delivering on the vision of a UK national digital library, Jisc and OCLC announce a partnership to build a new shared service that will aggregate academic bibliographic data at scale, improving library collection management and resource discovery for students and researchers.

Jisc, the digital solutions provider for UK education and research, today announced that OCLC, the global library cooperative, has been awarded the contract to develop a new National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK).

The NBK, originally proposed in Jisc’s National Monograph Strategy, will support the learning and research needs of the UK higher education community. The vision is to extend the capabilities of the current Copac service, by investing in technology that can ingest diverse library data at higher speed and greater volume. The new service will enable a shift in the way that libraries manage their print and digital collections and in the ways that people access those resources.

“This exciting collaborative partnership is an important part of building a national digital library for the UK,” explains Neil Grindley, Head of resource discovery at Jisc.

“The NBK will be a genuine knowledgebase combining information from various sources to tackle the collection management challenges facing UK academic institutions. The building of this system will be a shared community endeavor. We are working closely with RLUK, SCONUL, The British Library, individual representatives from academic libraries, publishers, licensing organisations and service providers to try and really think through how to realise transformational change.”

Neil Wilson, Head of collection metadata at The British Library, commented on their involvement:

“With its aim of combining new technology, rich metadata assets and the collective experience of leading library community members, the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase fits perfectly with The British Library’s strategic objectives for effective collaboration.”

The library community is grappling with two core challenges as budgets come under threat. Firstly, the need to make important decisions about the ongoing management of their print and digital book collections. Secondly, to ensure that researchers and learners have sustainable and convenient access to digital books.

The NBK is regarded as a key element in the delivery against these issues, providing a source of information that libraries can confidently rely upon when making decisions about the future of the resources that they manage and make accessible.

Supported by WorldCat, the world’s largest aggregation of library data, the project is due to start in January 2017, with launch of a beta service projected in January 2018.

Speaking on behalf of OCLC, Eric van Lubeek, Vice President, Managing Director OCLC EMEA and APAC said:

“We are simply delighted to be partnering with Jisc for the development of the NBK. We know the importance of this project to UK academia and will seek to engage the whole community. This change will increase the quality and comprehensiveness of information across the whole UK bibliographic ecosystem.

“The mechanisms in place as part of the NBK will enable shared bibliographic metadata to flow into WorldCat and other systems, such as global search engines. Libraries around the world are looking forward to being able to easily locate material from the rich collections of UK academic institutions. The NBK will also interoperate with a number of sources to describe where books are kept, in what formats and under what conditions they are available to be used. Going forward we will build on our collaborative approach to integrate this service with additional discovery, analysis and management tools, including WorldShare Management Services.”

Commenting on OCLC’s appointment, Grindley continues: “OCLC was selected because they are uniquely positioned to connect library data-hubs at scale to the global network. OCLC is built on collaboratively making knowledge sharable and reusable by all contributing libraries and organisations that support discovery and enhancement of that information. OCLC is also a known quantity in this area as they are already a provider of national and regional bibliographic infrastructure in a number of countries, including in Australia, France, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands.”