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.

Improving the KB+ user interface

As one of the largest services within Jisc’s Library Support Services portfolio, Knowledge Base+ (KB+) has a central role to play in the resource management lifecycle. Read more about the service, its background and details of one day workshops in 2017 below.

Room for improvement

In 2015, research was undertaken to better understand how KB+ was being used. The results of this research can be found on the Use Cases section of KB+. The Use Cases reflect how the system is being used to perform various library management operations and how users found KB+ beneficial to their performance, both adding value and saving them time. But there is work to be done.

A secondary outcome of this research was a series of problems related to the user interface, including complexity of vocabulary, difficulties with orientation in the site, etc.

These comments were taken on board, and a second piece of research specific to the user interface was carried out. The aim of this project was to gather feedback from users to help identify the main problem areas for those using the system.

The main outcomes of this research are:

  • KB+ modules are well used and integrated in internal workflows
  • KB+ openness and credibility are both essential elements of present and future success

The main concern about the interface was that KB+ design is more complex than necessary. Database design is the predominant approach in the present KB+ and it is not the simplest way to do things for users. A second highlighted concern is the large amount of information displayed, which is not always necessary to the users to perform their tasks.

Next steps and improvements to the interface

The intention is to analyse and redesign the current user interface to ensure that the high-quality tools are accompanied by a smooth and straightforward user experience, the aim being to ensure that users feel confident that using KB+ adds value to their work, increasing the efficiency of their library operations. This could take the form of giving a better experience to their patrons, saving them valuable time or raising their levels of performance.

The KB+ team are pleased to be working with M/A and Pure Usability on this project, as well as with long-term partners Sero HE and Knowledge Integration.

A user-centred design approach has been chosen for this project. This should ensure the KB+ new interface is optimised to users’ needs, and is helpful, engaging and easy to operate. Input and feedback from the KB+ community is invited, and anyone interested in participating should email knowledgebaseplus@jisc.ac.uk.

We need your help

Volunteers are needed for

  • User testing – a group of users who are happy to participate in prototyping testing is needed. The testing session could take up to 30 minutes, and there will be several testing opportunities as the project develops. Those who wish to be involved in prototyping testing should contact Magaly Bascones on knowledgebaseplus@jisc.ac.uk.
  • New users, existing users and non-users are encouraged to get in touch.

What is KB+ and how can you find out more?

KB+ is a service from Jisc Collections that aims to help UK libraries manage their e-resources more efficiently by providing accurate publication, subscription, licence and management information. KB+ consists of three main modules (plus another in development), and has several in-built tools that enable users to perform diverse library management operations. Since work started on KB+ (in 2011), the main priority has been to fulfil the e-resources management requirements of the UK academic institutions.

Institutions have always welcomed, and continue to welcome, the concept of KB+ Plus. It has been built in close collaboration with librarians, consortia and other UK bodies such as SCONUL and RLUK, from whom much useful advice has been received. This community-centred approach has meant that early adopters of KB+ have been active participants, providing insightful information to the development work.

The KB+ team will be running their successful one day KB+ workshops again this year. These workshops are a great opportunity to find out more about KB+, try out some practical exercises and meet some of the KB+ community. Dates and locations as follows:

  • 15th February – London (11.00–15.30)
  • 15th March – Plymouth (11.00–15.30)
  • 14th June – Newcastle (11.00–15.30)
  • 20th September – Oxford (11.00–15.30)
  • 15th November – London (11.00–15.30)

To find out more and sign up, visit the Events and training section of the website.

Library Support: Presenting Jisc’s offer

Part of the work to transform Jisc’s library support services includes presenting a clearer image to our users of what our offer to libraries is. With that in mind, we have begun to refresh our Library Support page.

The aim of the refresh was not to present just a list of our services as before, but rather align those services to functions carried out by libraries while explaining how those services offer time saving, sector wide efficiencies and benefits. In developing the page, I drew upon the areas set out in Techniques in Electronic Management (TERMS) as developed by Graham Stone, previously of University of Huddersfield and Jill Emery, Portland State University and in conjunction with the library community. TERMS addressed electronic resources so I wanted to ensure the functions identified, for example, Discovery and Delivery, were still relevant for non-electronic based resources such as print books and archives, which several of our services support. Any feedback on the terminology or the page would certainly be welcome as this page needs to work for the people it is aimed at.

The new page also includes details of any events, training as well as the latest news relevant to libraries. Further pages will be developed over the next few months to provide more detail about our offer in this area.

Library + Data + Labs = what exactly?

An account of the Jisc & HESA Library Data Labs Showcase and its future

Libraries are information and data centres like few others, both by the nature of their business and through the data they collect. However, with so much information, it is not easy to make effective use of the data they possess given their increasingly limited time and resources. Therefore it is timely that the Business Intelligence project, a joint initiative between Jisc and the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), provided an experimentation opportunity to libraries to explore the potential of using the data and analytics tools available in the recently developed Heidi-Plus service.

What is the Library Data Labs project?

Library Data Labs is the third in a series of development cycles in the Business Intelligence project and followed the successful format of the two previous cohorts which involved working with university strategic planners. In addition to producing new business insights with the data available, the aim of those cohorts was to produce data-visualised dashboards which could be made available to others via the Heidi-Plus service.

This project differed in that it included library data with the aim of producing library-specific insights. Five cross-institutional teams from 23 different university libraries and one Jisc team worked for three months from mid-July to the beginning of October. Each team was led by a Product Owner and supported by a Jisc Scrum Master, who brought the teams together and guided them through the project using an Agile methodology. Teams were tasked with producing user stories to determine the questions that teams wanted the data visualisations to answer. Teams also committed to a scrum meeting one day per week across the 3 month project working iteratively and as a team to source the relevant data and produce their visualisations. Training in Tableau software was included with ongoing support provided throughout as well as specialist support for sourcing data provided by data experts from Cetis.

What did the project achieve?

The project culminated with the showcase event in Manchester on 6th October. All six teams presented their dashboards to each other and our expert panel: Jonathan Waller, Director of Information and Analysis, HESA; Keith Cole, Executive Director of Digital Resources, Jisc; and Elizabeth Malone, Chair of the SCONUL Statistics Steering Group and Co-director of Library & Learning Services, Kingston University. It was particularly useful to have representation from SCONUL given the nature of the data being presented on the day. Each team addressed different library questions, resulting in a wide variety of dashboards being produced.

IMG_1890    IMG_1923

  • Team Mary examined the impact of library space on student satisfaction across institutions and also the use of library facilities by different groups, including FTEs; alumni; mature students; distance learners; etc. and cross-institutional subject groups. They also produced a mapping of the Question 16 data from the NSS against each element of the SCONUL return data, perhaps providing greater insight as to the basis of the NSS score.
  • Team Simon’s approach included demonstrating how dashboards could help support the Research Excellence Framework (REF) and Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) aspirations, and understand trends and progress in open access publishing, looking green and gold OA. Another dashboard offered a ‘one-stop benchmarking shop’ enabling library directors to benchmark their library’s performance against other institutions, understand the impact of library metrics, including space issues, on student satisfaction, and identify important trends in the sector.
  • Team Elizabeth explored data at a more local level using information about electronic resources usage at the department or school level and also by student type. This could offer many distinct insights from the suitability of a resource for a particular group to providing evidence for subscription negotiations.
  • Team Frankie wanted to compare library spend on a given subject with comparator institutions and look at who was ‘excellent’ in a given subject using data available from NSS, REF and SCONUL data. With the administration of electronic resources budgets difficult to assign to subjects, this was not an easy task and the team issued a challenge to SCONUL and the library community to look at this and other data issues.
  • Team Ian again had a more local based approach but none-the-less several distinct and impressive dashboards were produced. The first explored the need to analyse the value of e-journal subscription deals by looking at usage and cost and the likely effects of swapping titles in and out of a deal, and the cost effectiveness of the deal itself. Another dashboard involved mapping JACS to Dewey to understand student satisfaction and print resource provision.
  • Team Jisc decided to take full advantage of the fact that it possessed usage data for all institutions using JUSP to look sector wide. For the first time, JUSP and IRUS-UK data were combined to give a truer picture of individual journal usage. Overlaying this usage data were a series of ‘quality’ measures such as Impact Factor and Altmetrics to examine the correlation, if any, between usage and ‘quality’. The financial implications of these deals was also presented and the potential for institutional profiling according to Jisc Bands and various mission groups was proffered as a potential add-on to the JUSP service in the future.

After each presentation, the panel members provided individual feedback and the audience voted on the viability of the dashboards for the future using a red, amber, green approach. Many of the dashboards received mostly green votes, indicating the desire to see the dashboards go into service via Heidi-Plus. Those dashboards that focussed more on local data understandably received more amber votes than green, but that was purely because as they exist at the moment, the Heidi-Plus service, being a national service is not the most suitable place. The Jisc team’s dashboards received entirely green votes but some further development work will be done to make these available to members.

IMG_1949    IMG_1887

A storify of participants’ tweets are available from the day.

The data

The image below shows the data sources we used with the size indicating the frequency of use within teams’ dashboards.

Data Word Cloud

What’s next for Library Data Labs?

Although the project is geared toward producing proof of concept dashboards only, the enthusiastic response among the showcase participants for what they saw and also the further development and enhancement of the dashboards described by the teams, demonstrated the appetite for such dashboards to continue into some form of service.

Despite the positive response, it is clear that the data available to the library community at present is not necessarily what is needed to begin to answer the questions that libraries need to answer now and into the future. This project has highlighted an opportunity for SCONUL and other data suppliers to examine their data to ensure it is relevant for the expanding evidence base required of and by libraries.

Jisc and HESA will shortlist the dashboards created by the library teams and determine which can go forward into the Heidi-Plus service. Jisc will also explore the continuation of Team Graham’s dashboards in helping to inform Jisc Collections’ negotiations in the future and providing a visualised institutional profiling offer via JUSP.

In 2017, it is planned that the process used in Heidi-Lab and Library Data Labs project is taken forward as a service offering so look out for a call for participants to join a new cycle of dashboard development.

If you want to keep up with the wider Business Intelligence project, or find out about upcoming dashboards, announcements will be posted on the Jiscmail list: JISC-HESA-BUSINESS-INTEL@JISCMAIL.AC.UK. If you want to get access to Heidi-Plus via your institution, then email heidi.plus@hesa.ac.uk.


The Vision and the transformation going forward

Jisc’s vision is to transform our library support services by developing a more effective, efficient and cohesive set of library services.

Our aim is to develop a modular approach to our library support services, presenting services that more clearly support library activities, for example acquisition, evaluation or preservation. Instead of developing one all-encompassing library support service, we will continue to provide services separately, for example JUSP and KB+, but moving between our services for a particular library activity will become a more seamless and intuitive experience. This will allow libraries the flexibility to use our services to best suit their individual needs and in conjunction with their own third party services.

Plan in more detail

In order to achieve our vision, we will carry out a programme of work, of which the main activities are:

  • Developing a National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK)
  • Orchestrating the data used by each of the library support services, standardising data sources between services and eliminating unnecessary duplication of effort
  • Working on a more detailed understanding of how our library support services support librarians’ activities – for example, from acquisition and licensing through to usage gathering and perpetual access. This will enable us to present Jisc services to librarians in a clear, consistent way through improvements to service interfaces
  • Consolidating maintenance systems/web and making more effective use of cloud infrastructure. API development will support and deliver on the data orchestration activity
  • We will take an iterative approach to developments, both enhancing and integrating existing services and taking the initiative with new opportunities and challenges for the library sector.

Affected services & impact on you

A number of services will be impacted from this development work, including primarily:

  • Jisc Collections
  • JUSP
  • KB+
  • The Keepers Registry

However, the impact is intended to be minimal on user’s experience as much of the work is about the underlying technology and data and centralising and standardising these key service elements. What impact there will be, is when improvements are made to interfaces, but it is expected that these will be entirely positive and beneficial to users of all these services.


Activity Detailed activity: Deliverables/Outputs Due date
Developing a National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK)
  • Selection of preferred supplier and contract placed
  • Library catalogue data available in NBK and beta service available
October 2016
July 2018
Data Orchestration & Standards
  • Authority data sources identified for services
  • Plan produced for proposed data changes
July 2017
Workflow mapping and user interface design
  • User consultation and testing of wireframes with community agreement on workflow approach
July 2017
Consolidation of maintenance systems/web and API development
  • Exploit cloud environment
  • Develop APIs for centralised data sources
July 2017
Access management – develop a single sign-on to support working across services
  • Consolidate service account details
July 2017

Consultation mechanisms

A new Advisory Group, with sector-wide representation, will be created to support and advise on the transformation project.

If you have any queries about any aspect of this message or our approach, then please follow updates via this blog or get in touch with me:

Siobhán Burke, Library Support Services Programme Manager


Or contact your Jisc Account manager.


Launching the transformation project for Jisc’s library support services

With the release of the Jisc library support services: enhancing efficiency and effectiveness report and Head of Library Services and Jisc Collections Director, Liam Earney’s blog post to coincide with SCONUL‘s summer conference theme of ‘library transformation’, this project will now begin in earnest.

We already know what we want to achieve in 2016-17 and colleagues working in and around our library support services, primarily Jisc Collections, JUSP and KB+ will be meeting to work out a plan to implement the recommendations.

More detailed information will follow through the summer.