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 In case you haven’t heard already, they are going to be superseded by a new collection of services that will come under the banner of Jisc Library hub and will be called: Discover, Compare and Cataloguing.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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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: email@example.com
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.