As part of the Library Systems Programme, two reports have been published exploring the potential for shared library systems across Universities in both Scotland and Wales.
In the first of two posts I wanted to briefly introduce you to the two recently published reports, and their main findings/recommendations. In the second post I want to highlight some of the other developments on the shared library systems landscape, and highlight some of the implications.
A Shared LMS for Wales (WHELF)
The Welsh Shared Service Library Management System Feasibility Report focussed on the most prevalent and practical issues for a shared all Wales HE library management system in broad terms:
A set of high-level agreed consortium requirements for a shared LMS.
A proposed governance model for the consortium.
High level recommendations on integration requirements for local systems; map communications standards which are applicable to the project against standards in use by suppliers.
A business case for a Wales-wide consortium LMS, including cost matrices for the different approaches presented.
Recommendations on the most cost-effective approach for software, hosting and ongoing management of the LMS.
The report makes the following recommendations:
The Project recommended setting up an All-Wales Consortium with formal governance. This requires the consortium to formally agree which processes, working practices and configurations will be adhered to by all members as a whole.
A cloud solution hosted by a vendor (or open source vendor) is the preferred option, because this will provide the most cost-effective resilient solution.
Further work will be required to develop a clear statement on the vision for shared LMS services in Wales, ensuring clarity of purpose and providing a compelling statement of intent for senior stakeholders and staff to achieve buy-in to the strategic direction proposed.
The report suggests a phased approach to implementation; anticipating that the first implementations will be no sooner than Summer 2014.
The report also suggests a task and finish group should be convened to quickly put together a high level plan, costs and cost allocation (i.e. funding) for the establishment of a project team.
The Benefits of Sharing (SCURL)
How would a shared library management system improve services in Scotland?
While the question is simple, the answer is a little more complex. Indeed, the project began looking at the question with an initial workshop and subsequent report.
It then broke the problem into 3 parts:
The project also published a summary report which concludes with a number of recommendations, including the following:
From a systems perspective, sharing technical infrastructure and support structures would offer benefits of economies of scale, with more efficient use of staffing and greater expertise than any single library could offer. System options such as Open Source (OS) alternatives to ‘off the shelf’ commercial products could, therefore, become viable. It is recommended that at the tender and procurement phases of a shared LMS, all options, including OS systems, are reviewed and assessed.
Both reports make very interesting reading – and also tell us a lot about the current library systems landscape. In particular there is a renewed vigour in the potential for sharing and collaborating around services and systems between libraries and institutions.
There is also a clear recognition that open source solutions are viable options for the community, and may represent a feature of this new library landscape.
In the second post on shared library services and systems I’ll explore some of the other developments within this landscape, and the implications they have for institutions, libraries and systems vendors.
I was asked to present a short ‘provocation’ on the topic of the Digital User Experience for the SCONUL winter conference 2012, and the impact this will have on the future of library skills.
The strangest thing happened on the way to the conference…
A stranger appeared as if from nowhere and presented me with a usb stick. He told me I had to play the video contained on the stick at the conference instead of the slides I had prepared.
He said it was of the utmost importance.
So, here is the video I played:
As I am sure you can imagine, I was very surprised! But, despite the surprise I was able to jot down a few notes on what I thought were the implications for the future of library skills.
Librarians need to learn how to code?
A number of interesting themes emerged during the conference. One of the most interesting discussions actually moved from the conference hall onto Twitter, and centered on whether or not librarians would need technical (i.e., programming/developer) type skill sets in the future.
This is an interesting thought – and one that reflects my personal opinion that many of the skills we’ll associate with librarians in the not too distant future (say 2020), will be very different from the ones we currently associate with the profession. While ‘soft’ skills, like communication etc, are essential, they do not differentiate the profession from any other.
What are the skills that really define the profession and its future?
I plan to blog about these ideas and some of the other themes that emerged during the conference in another post – there are far too may nuances for me to do them justice quickly here. But I suspect that the profession will become increasingly associated with aspects of technical development that we currently see as still separate from librarianship.
These differences will begin to break down, and the technical development and librarianship roles will converge to such an extent that there will be no meaningful distinction.
However, if you want some reading for over the break there’s a great post by the LMS Change project on New Skills for a New Era which does a good job of summing up the conference and some of the themes and discussions that took place.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery: So thanks to my colleague Andy McGregor who graciously allowed me to steal his idea!
Who’d have thought that a redesigned library website could attract quite so much attention.
Yet, the recent announcement by Stanford’s University Library that it has redesigned its website seems to have triggered a significant amount of interest.
At JISC colleagues have been discussing it for a number of reasons, from the development and UX approach to the fact it has been blogged throughout the redesign process on the library website.
The changes in the website also provoked an interesting blog post from Lorcan Dempsey that reflects on two interesting consequences of the website, which Lorcan terms:
- Space as a service, and;
- Full library discovery.
What the Stanford website clearly highlights is that the traditional (siloed) library systems can no longer be conceived of as separate from the range of physical and virtual spaces.
The library web presence offers an opportunity to go beyond the binary opposition of online and physical, to one in which the library (website) itself becomes a navigation tool between a range of spaces, systems and services.
The distinction between online and physical becomes increasingly blurred – instead the focus is on appropriate services and resources wherever they may reside.
In some ways Lorcan’s second point: ‘full library discovery’ is an extension of these issues – the discovery experience itself flows beyond the traditional confines of the catalogue. It pours over into searching the website itself, guides, staff pages and so on.
The design of the site, with its central navigation banner, is also very mobile friendly – it is surely not long until the library web presence provides a siri like experience… is it?
These considerations are particularly interesting in terms of the current work JISC is undertaking looking at the future of library systems. In particular the ‘pathfinder’ projects that make up the programme and the range of system challenges they’re exploring, from shared LMS systems to patron-driven acquisition and shared collection management tools.
This work follows up some of the themes and motivations that emerged from the Library management Systems programme a few years ago. The programme was an explicit attempt to address some of the issues library systems faced in terms of usability, user experience (UX), and integarting with the wider web and other institutional systems.
Indeed, a number of the projects in that programme explicitly explored the potential for library systems to crossover into more social online spaces, like Facebook, and collaborative academic spaces, such as VLEs.
The current Library Systems programme is trying to make sure it captures interesting developments as they occur on the LMS Change blog to inform the programme as a whole.
Stanford’s website redevelopment certainly poses a number of important questions for other libraries in how they design and deploy their services and systems.
For more background to the development there is an interesting series of posts on the redevelopment from Chris Bourg, a Librarian at Stanford University.
As part of the recent Library Systems funding call I am pleased to announce that seven new projects have been funded to explore the future of library systems. Details of the successful projects can be found below.
More recently the trajectory of this work led to a workshop at the University of Warwick that brought together senior library managers to explore the future of library systems (a blog post on the event and its outcomes can be found here).
This background work and the workshop has helped shape the funding call and the seven projects currently funded.
About the Projects
There will be one overarching synthesis and scoping project that will provide a new vision for the future of library systems and a ‘roadmap’ for the delivery of that vision.
University of Westminster
Partners: Sero Consulting
The LMS Change project will develop and disseminate a vision for the future of library systems and a delivery ‘roadmap’. Working with the companion Pathdinders, the project will explore the potential for new approaches to library systems infrastructure, taking account of considerations beyond the traditional LMS to include other business critical and curatorial systems, both within and above campus. The findings will be delivered in a single report, published in a highly navigable web format.
The programme will include six ‘pathfinder’ projects that will explore various aspects of library systems. The projects are:
Shared LMS: Business Case Evaluation
University of Cardiff
Building on the work of the earlier ‘WHELF: Sharing a Library Management System’ feasibility report the project will explore potential benefits and pain points inherent in a move from distributed to centralised hosting and infrastructure model for a suite of library systems software, while building a possible overall business case for such a move by the HEIs within the WHELF consortium.
The Benefits of Sharing (How would a Shared Library Management System improve services in Scotland?)
University of Edinburgh
Partners: The University of Stirling; SCURL (Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries)
This project will contribute towards a new vision for library systems by investigating the following question: “How would a shared library management system improve services in Scotland?”
HIKE (Huddersfield, Intota, KnowledgeBase+ Evaluation)
University of Huddersfield
Partners: JISC Collections, Serial Solutions
The project will build upon the work undertaken by Huddersfield as part of Phase I of the KB+ project, as an early adopter of Summon and the TERMS project, in order to carry out a full assessment of the compatibility of KB+ with Serials Solutions and an evaluation of the suitability and potential of Intota as a replacement to the traditional LMS in the UK market, given its relationship to and integration with a knowledgebase.
E-BASS25 (E-Books Acquisition as a Shared Service in M25)
Royal Holloway, University of London
Partners: Kingston University, JISC Collections
The project will deliver a series of linked reports and guidelines which will form a navigation tool for consortia seeking to embark on collaborative purchasing of e-books with particular reference to the Patron Driven Acquisition of eBooks.
Anthologizr: On demand e-publishing from OA repositories
University of London
Using the EPrints repository software as its basis, the project will develop an extension to enable and support the creation of user-defined anthologies of items in the repository, using the open EPUB e-book standard.
Collaborative Collection Management
Kings College London
Partners: Senate House Library, University of London; Mimas; RLUK
Against a pressurised backdrop of economic challenges, teaching and learning physical space redevelopment needs, growing awareness of the student experience concept, and the ongoing move to ‘e’ only, the need to better manage collections has grown evermore urgent while at the same time becoming an increasingly complex and difficult problem space. This project will see King’s College London and Senate House libraries collaborate on above campus initiatives around collection management for the benefit of students and researchers.
Further information about these projects and about the future of library systems in general will shortly be available from the Information and Library Infrastructure webpages.
My colleague Ben Showers has recently been looking across the work taking place around digital books in all their forms: open textbooks, digital monographs, epub, web-based books. For educational institutions the need to keep up with the content needs of learners and researchers is paramount but so much is happening at the moment, with hardware, content formats, the emergence of new authoring tools and rising user expectations, so where do you start?
We have pulled together some key information for decision-makers, with a distinct JISC flavour. Particular thanks to Caren Milloy from JISC Collections and Zak Mensah from JISC Digital Media for their help.
Legal (Licensing, IPR, DRM)
- E-books for Skills: Licensing model for e-textbooks for use by ACL, WBL and Offender Learning
- PublishOER is looking at licensing issues and models for incorporating publisher content into OER, building on CASPER
- Legal Aspects of OERs: OER Infokit (more IPR specific support is on OER IPR website but nothing specific on etextbooks yet)
- OER Report on Open Practice across sectors (implications for textbooks)
- Jorum is now hosting resources from the Saylor Foundation who have been supporting open textbooks
- Frances Pinter (Bloomsbury Academic) – Frances Pinter future of academic monograph slides and : video
- e- textbooks on mobile devices: JISC Collections is working with the University of Lincoln to licence ebooks for use on mobile devices but downloadable via the VLE.
- Pilot of a consortia model for e-books: JISC Collections is working with Swets to pilot the model used by the Max Plank Society
- E-books for Skills: JISC Collections is looking at the business model to support licensing ebooks to ACL, WBL and Offender Learning
- PublishOER is looking at the sorts of negotiations needed between OER producers and publishers and how the business models might work
- The future of the scholarly monograph in humanities and social sciences: OAPEN-UK
- Living Books for Life: A sustainable, low cost model for publishing books
- Economic implications of alternative scholarly publishing models: Exploring the costs and benefits: Houghton Report (not directly linked but the models around research articles could lend themselves to a similar move in the area of books/learning resources)
- e-Textbook business models (JISC Collections)
- E-books for FE eTextbooks Business Models report looked at the barriers to the adoption of textbooks in FE
- JISC eBooks for FE explored standard subscription / purchase model and more recently, the Patron-Driven Aquisition model at a national level
- Wikieducator Open Textbook book explores the use and adoption of open textbooks for teaching
Technology and Standards
- Textus project
- HTML5 case studies (to be available shortly)
- JISC Digital Media have a report on html 5 / video
- jiscPUB: Digital Monograph Technical Landscape: Exemplars and Recommendations
- Mobile and Wireless Technologies Review at Edina
- JISC Scholarly Comms: Campus Based Publishing
- TechDis: Access to eBooks
- JISC Digital Media Introduction to eBooks
- JISC Pals, TIME ebook metadata work 2006
- ebooks metadata RDTF (Discovery ) vision – see the attachments
- Discovery initiative on open metadata, focused on bibliographic metadata and open metadata - discovery
- KB + will help support institutions in the management and discovery of ebooks
- JISC Collections (Carol Tenopir) study on scholarly reading: UK Scholarly Reading and the Value of Library Resources: Summary Results of the Study Conducted Spring 2011
- PALS group study on Patron Driven Acquisition of eBooks and the role metadata plays in that process: Patron Driven Acquisitions (PDA) and the role of metadata in the discovery, selection and acquisition of ebooks
- JISC eBooks Observatory project: http://observatory.jiscebooks.org/
- Open etextbook Use Case from JISC CETIS
What have we missed?
Please let us know what resources you find most useful, from JISC and elsewhere, in meeting the challenge of ebooks in your institution.
Ben Showers and Amber Thomas, JISC Digital Infrastructure Team
(last updated 28th May 2012)
While libraries come to terms with new forms of scholarly communication and the technological transformation of the academy, has one academic domain already drifted beyond reach?
Have the sciences already become self-sufficient in their information needs? Are libraries lacking in the services and information resources that scientists require?
In the first of three reports on Research Support Services for Scholars: Chemistry Project, a study being undertaken by Ithaka S+R on UK institutions, it is clear that within chemistry, and arguably the sciences more generally, a growing distance is developing between the everyday work of chemists and the library. As the report makes clear:
“This gap in mutual understanding prevents partnerships from developing between chemists and the library”
While the Chemistry Project is a researcher-centric approach to understanding the scholarly and information needs and requirements of Chemists, this first report update has taken the library and liaison services as a starting point.
The report is based on conversations with research support professionals (mostly liaison librarians) and has some very interesting headlines:
- An unbalanced relationship: While librarians felt their relationship to the department was critical for doing their job well, many librarians expressed concern about the distance between the daily work of chemists and the library.
- The library as purchasing arm: The conversations and interactions between departments and library almost entirely revolve around collections budgets, acquisition and preservation of content.
- A student focus: Connected to the point above is the increasingly centralisation of library services and spaces into a central library (or science library). Such consolidation usually focuses on delivering services to students, rather than the researcher. Where there are interesting service and tool developments for chemists these are usually done independently of the library, and are led by academics who identify a need in their own work.
- The role of repositories and researchers is an interesting one, and in the context of this study seems to suggest that the library will have a role in promoting its use to chemists, and will be a ‘significant new research support service provided by libraries’.
- The importance of graduate students was recognised by a number of participants in the interviews. This seems a group that bridges the divide between the department and the library. They provide an opportunity to influence research methods and practices before habits are formed.
- There are also a number of emerging needs identified by participants that include: Research data management, discovery, research funding and open access. These emerging requirements were perceived as offering opportunities for libraries to engage with the chemistry researchers in a different way.
A few things strike me about the findings that have emerged so far from the library discussions:
How do you bridge the divide between the sciences and the services of the library? One potential answer might be that libraries shouldn’t – the relationship that currently exists works for chemists, and libraries need not expend resources on developing unnecessary and unused services.
Are graduate students the answer? There also seems to me to be an implication that something like a ‘hybrid’ researcher/librarian will develop. Is a convergence of subject knowledge and domain expertise going to be the future of library liaison?
Related to the above point is the idea of library services being embedded into the department. In the case of the group-model for chemistry departments and research this could be fruitful.
These interim findings should provide a nice complement (contrast) to the subsequent researcher based conversations and interviews, and it will be interesting to see if there are obvious opportunities for libraries and their engagement with the sciences.
Below is a copy of the plenary presentation I gave to the UKSG conference 2012. I have also included a much reduced transcript of the talk to provide some context to the slides.
My presentation was about looking at library services and systems from a data-centric point of view. Specifically, it was about the potential that library data has for the creation of new services and improved systems.
This isn’t a radically new vision – indeed the idea of data-driven is something that seems all pervasive at the moment (data-driven journalism etc). Rather it is a way to refocus, or possibly to re-align our thinking so what may appear problems at the present are viewed as new opportunities.
There is also a video of the presentation available:
I began my presentation with a video. The video was made by University of Lincoln students without formal permission from the university and upoaded to YouTube.
So, I think the film highlights nicely the three main themes of my presentation:
- Situating services and infrastructure within the wider ecosystem (this might be institution; community; society etc) – allow innovation to flourish anywhere, and ensure you’re in a position to take advantage of it;
- Redistributing effort – focus on the services that have an impact for users, ensure you have the talent to recognise those emergent opportunities and embrace them;
- Covering all eventualities: Future proofing – become agile and more entrepreneurial. The barriers for students creating the video were incredibly low: flip cam and youtube. Barriers to students using library data should be low too
Taking a data centric approach enables the library to affect the entire ecosystem that they inhabit.
Focusing on the data forces us to think about the other sources of important data within the institution: the Repository, VLE’s, student records etc. The wider data ecosystem becomes evident, and the potential of the data underpinning those systems can be realised.
A really good example of this is the Discovery work that’s currently being undertaken by JISC and RLUK and Mimas at the Uni of Manchester. Discovery’s aim is to provide a metadata ecology’ for UK education and research – and it does this by focusing on open and accessible data.
What happens, suddenly, is the data ecosystem starts to mingle with the human ecosystems libraries are inevitably a part of. The free flow of data provides the fertile ground for new ideas and services to grow – Innovation is allowed to flourish everywhere on campus – not just within the confines of the traditional walls of the library.
Libraries and their institutions need to ensure an environment where this flourishing of innovation can happen, and that there are the right skills and people to recognise those opportunities, and help develop further the ideas and prototypes.
Humanities and the social sciences have traditionally been disciplines aligned closely with the institutional library and its resources and services. Increasingly, in my conversations with librarians, there is a concern that while the library as a space remains popular, this masks a growing distance between the services the library provides and the needs and expectations of researchers (to say nothing of undergrads).
As subjects like digital humanities find themselves transformed by their engagement with technology, is the library facing the threat of redundancy?
There has been a flurry of research recently including the RLUK report: Re-skilling for Research and JISC Collections’ UK Scholarly Reading and the Value of Library Resources, exploring the evolving role of the library in supporting researchers.
Similarly, Ithaka S+R in the US is exploring the changing support needs of scholars across a variety of disciplines. The researcher-centric programme has recently published a ‘memo’ on the interim findings of their NEH funded History project (they are also exploring Chemistry, funded by JISC). And, as the report makes clear:
To many in the history field and in libraries, it is unclear what the role of the library should be in digital humanities. This is not to imply that there is no role for libraries – only that this role has not yet been widely developed and adopted effectively. Libraries remain very much in transition when it comes to expanding models for supporting research on campus
So, I wanted to explore some of the roles that libraries might have in the Digital Humanities:
- Managing Data: This has undoubtedly become a cliche, but it’s the transformative factor changing research practice. Humanities researchers are increasingly interacting with large corpora; how do libraries support them in this, and the data that is an output from this type of research? This might involve libraries supporting the data management infrastructure, or providing one-to-one support for departments and researchers on best practice. I see libraries playing a role in the collection, re-purposing and organising of data that may lead to further analysis by individual researchers or (sub)departments. What’s critical is that libraries work collaboratively with the researchers/departments: This is not ‘selling’ library services; it is about understanding researchers needs and providing the right support.
- Closely connected to this point is the idea of the ‘embedded’ librarian: Providing the support wherever the researcher is; a distributed approach to library services. The librarian becomes the campus Flaneur: Inhabiting the campus and acquiring an understanding of its practices. This active role participates in the activity of the academic metropolis, while always maintaining a distance. The embedded librarian provides immediate support, while always maintaining an eye on the evolution of research practice and relevant support.
- Digitisation and Curation: The examples above assume that much of the data being managed by the library will, in some way, be created by the researcher themselves. Libraries, are of course, great sources of content and this means they often hold the expertise and infrastructure for digitisation. Libraries have a very meaningful role in the digitisation and curation of that content.
- Digital Preservation: Libraries, probably better than anywhere else on campus, understand preservation. It is unlikely that developers and researchers involved in a DH project probably do not, although they will acknowledge its importance. Closely linked with sustainability this is a significant area for libraries to play a role. Close collaboration early on will ensure the library is able to provide advice and guidance on standards and best practice. However, as the Preservation of Complex Objects Symposia makes clear – digital resources tend to be complex and their preservation far from straightforward. This is an area that libraries can build on and start having a real impact on these research outputs and their ongoing preservation.
- Discovery and Dissemination: Libraries are increasingly judged by the services they provide, not as a large store of content. This means that for digital humanists the library can play a critical role in enabling the discovery of content from across academic, and cultural heritage. Furthermore, this role may evolve into one of dissemination of scholarly outputs. Whether this is through campus-based publishing or aggregation of research outputs, advising on metadata and formats to enable dissemination and discovery, and tracking impact across new platforms and interactions (what is increasingly being termed altmetrics).
Questions remain around the ability of the library, and the wider institution, to adapt to the changes that are affecting scholarly practice. While much of the focus of research has been on the library services and how these can be made attractive to researchers, it is clear that a researcher-centric approach needs to be adopted to ensure requirements and future needs are clearly understood.
Finally, I wonder if the values the library represents (openness, access, contemplation etc…) might also be something that needs ‘capturing’. If we only focus on researcher needs, is there a danger that what they see as the value of the library is lost? Is the library an expression of knowledge and prestige within the research community, and does this have a value in itself?
So much has been happening since my last update in November 2011, I thought it would be useful to round up the news around JISC work on digital infrastructure relating to learning content.
The Call for OER Rapid Innovation Projects closed on Friday 27th January and I’m pleased to say we received 34 bids. Thank you all for your hard work! The bids are out for evaluation now, and in parallel we are looking at how to best present the collection of Use Cases. Bidders should hear back by early March. Note there is likely to be a big UKOER Programme Meeting on 26th March, venue tbc. So if you’ve bid to run an OER RI project, please pencil it in your diary. You should know a few weeks beforehand if you’re successful, so there will be time to make travel arrangements then.
Other news on the UK Open Educational Resources (UKOER) Programme:
- work commissioned by the HE Academy will be moving ahead, including a set of Case Studies on topics I suggested around OER and student as producer, OER and marketing, OER and public engagement and more.
- the OER Themes projects are steaming ahead, covering a wide range of topics. If you want to start following their early steps, subscribe to the UKOER3THEMES agreggated RSS feed.
- the project to explore visualising UKOER activities and outputs pioneers onwards, producing some really interesting graphics, check out the Mashe blog for the latest progress.
- coming soon … an animated guide to open licensing for OER, from the OER IPR Support team.
OER beyond the UK OER Programme
Open is a major theme for JISC in 2012. I blogged my individual take on openness in My Story of O(pen) but watch out for future JISC activities in Open, building on the Open Access section and case studies but taking it broader and deeper and drawing on the richness of JISC-supported work. This includes a study I’ll be managing on the Open Landscape (see below). I hope you saw the pieces in the current JISC Inform on Joi Ito: education is at the core of creative commons and the Round up of what’s happening in open access publishing. There will be more about openness in the next issue.
Globally, March 2012 will see the very first Open Education Week , and April 2012 is the joint OCWC and OER conference, so expect to see more around the issues of supporting open content and open practice.
Developing supporting infrastructure: including two developer challenges!
The JISC Learning Registry Node Experiment (JLeRN) is coming to life, see their introductory blog post. They ran a Hack Day on 23rd January for people to understand how they might work with these approaches. They are also sponsoring a Challenge for Dev8D
“Are you interested in capturing, sharing, mashing up or otherwise using paradata, AKA data about the use of open educational resources?
Are you thinking about exploring where and how teachers and learners are using resources, or sharing them via social media, or what they are saying about the resources?”
The Jorum team are doing so much at the moment its hard to know where to start. See their blog for an inside update. Highlights for me would be they are exploring how best to provide analytics to users, as part of that they are developing a dashboard approach. They are also running a Challenge for developers;
Are you interested in exploring new ways to extract, share, visualise, search, collate or mash up the thousands of open educational resources available in Jorum?
Pssst … If you’re a developer working on educational technologies, then I will whisper a rumour at you that it might be worth keeping 29th & 30th May pencilled in your diary for our very first DevEd event. Shhhh! We’ll tell you more as we plan it!
Meanwhile, the UKCoRR repository managers community ran a session on OERs on 27th January. The presentation from Phil Barker is a really useful whistlestop tour of different approaches to managing and disseminating OER
Funding opportunities for digital infrastructure work
There is currently a major Call for Proposals out from the Digital Infrastructure team . Most closely related to the area of digital infrastructure for learning resources, I would flag up the potential of Research Tools – Projects to Develop Sustainable and Open Vocabularies for Research and Information Management , and also a Synthesis Project. Worth watching also will be the access and identity management projects arising from this Call.
Also due out very soon are a set of Invitations to Tender for a range of Reports on Digital Infrastructure Directions. I’ll be managing a report on Embedded Licences: What, Why and How, and an Open Landscape study that focuses on how openness supports institutional objectives. Also requested will be a Report on the Advantages of APIs and one on Activity Data: Analytics and Metrics, one on business models around open source, and one on citation.
Sign up to JISC announce to get funding opportunity alerts via email.
Some hot topics
E-books, i-books and open books have been a big topic recently (E,I,E,I,O!). Apple caused a stir with their announcements. If you’re interested in ebooks, there is a wealth of technical material and guidance in the JISCPub Technical Monograph Landscape Study . JISC Digital Media are running a webinar on Getting Started with eBooks on 22nd February.
There is a growing interest in the role of libraries and librarians for OER. CETIS have been tracking this opportunity . A nice edtechpost sums up what this might mean all for emerging roles. Talking of libraries, my colleague Ben Shower’s post on the future of Library Management Systems, the Squeezed Middle has implications for how the role of content management within institutions might develop.
I had the pleasure of joining a NIACE workshop on open educational resources on 20th January. I gave a presentation on the benefits of content sharing and reuse . The big take home message of the day for me is that in HE we have a wealth of support, content and tools for both adult learners and the people to teach, tutor and support them. There is so much more we can do to promote open and free learning beyond HE, as highlighted in the soon-to-be-released OER Report on Open Practice across sectors .
JISC has been busy behind the scenes coordinating evidence and responses to Hargreaves review of copyright. That warrants a whole blog post which I won’t attempt here!
… (pause for breath) …
Coming soon …
Major reports due out soon which may be of particular interest :
- a report on the Mobile Web, from the JISC Observatory
- a set of case studies on HTML5
- a report on TextMining
- OER evaluation and synthesis team outputs
- and not quite a report, but watch out for a cute animation from OER IPR Support Team
I’ll be out and about a bit this month too. I’ll be running a session at Dev8D with CETIS’s Lorna Campbell about digital infrastructure directions for learning content, 2-4pm on Wednesday 15th Feb . As well as attending the Learning Registry session at the CETIS Conference , I’ll be contributing ideas on the potential of social network analytics for education and research on 23rd February.
And thus endeth my update for February 2012.
Hope this update is useful! A lot of this work has involved my colleagues in the UK OER Programme, JISC CETIS and Mimas, as well as the many expert projects we are lucky enough to work with. Feedback on this update is very welcome.
Last week saw a two-day workshop, held at Warwick University, exploring the future of library systems. I wanted to briefly highlight the format of the two days, and reflect on some of the outcomes from the event. In particular, how the workshop has helped inform a new funding call that will be published in early February.
Not so long ago the library management system was the neglected sibling of the library world; but the landscape is changing and it is starting to become centre-stage once again. Yet this is a very different world to even just a few years ago. While it regains its moment in the lime-light, it is constrained on either side by the emerging importance of resource discovery and e-resource management.
Entitled: ‘The Squeezed Middle’ the JISC and SCONUL sponsored event was a chance for directors and senior library managers to review the evolving role and requirements of the institutional Library Management System (LMS).
Specifically the workshop focused on the key developments impacting the shape of library systems, given the current work that is taking place in both Resource Discovery (discovery.ac.uk) and developments in the management of subscription and e- resources (Knowledge Base+).
Since 2008 and the publication of the JISC LMS landscape report and the jiscLMS programme things have changed significantly in the library systems environment. A number of open source systems are emerging, including Evergreen, Koha and Kuali OLE. More importantly, UK higher education has seen the first implementation of open source LMS at Staffordshire University – open source library systems have become a viable option.
The workshop aimed to explore this complex landscape, and end the two days with a clear direction of travel for what the future of library systems might look like (and some concrete ways to get there).
The role and functions of the LMS are, to say the least, fairly well embedded in the workflows and everyday business of the academic library. It’s a cliche to invoke the paradigm word, but it could be argued that much of the discussion within this space is caught up in a historic paradigm that has, for a long time, prevented the evolution (let alone revolution) of this business critical system.
The format of the workshop aimed to disrupt this paradigm.
The workshop began with some contextual information on the current library systems landscape. The first day of workshop was divided into two group discussion sessions focused around four themes: Space, Collections, Systems and Expertise.
The workshop watched a short video presentation by Lorcan Dempsey of OCLC that provided some business modelling context to the discussions. Lorcan’s full video is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zzxA4vdJYok&context=C3b48ce9ADOEgsToPDskJJB-K_kohdSvm4fK0yprv9
Each of the break out discussions sessions were interrupted by four ‘provocations’ from within and beyond the library world. These short, provocative presentations were designed to help extend the discussions around library systems, and prevent the groups from falling back on long held assumptions and arguments. These future visions (they were meant to be a vision of the library world in 2020), were both very creative, and helped provide talking points for the groups.
An example of the presentations can be found on Paul Walk’s blog and Paul Stainthorp’s blog. The other two were by Ken Chad (Ken’s provocation can be found here) and David Kay, and all their presentations will be made available shortly.
The day ended with some ‘homework’ where delegates were asked to prioritise and comment upon some 60 ‘objectives’ on the future role and functionality of the LMS.
The second day was focused on cementing the discussions and explorations of the first day – groups prioritised some of the identified objectives from the homework exercise and slowly a number of critical themes emerged.
Emerging Themes and Priorities
A number of core themes emerged during the two day workshop. Below I have very subjectively chosen a couple to highlight. A full list of the prioritised list of library systems ‘objectives’ that was the main outcome from the workshop can be found here. This was very kindly collated by David Kay who helped facilitate the second day of the workshop.
Data Data everywhere, and not a drop to…
I agree with Richard Nurse from the Open University who attended the workshop and blogged about the event here, who said:
It also struck me that a lot of the issues, concerns and priorities were about data rather than systems or processes… I do find it particularly interesting that despite the effort that goes into the data that libraries consume, there are some really big tasks to address to flow data around our systems without duplication or unnecessary activity.
I think this is an interesting point. In the conversations I joined it was clear that a lot of discussion was taking place around the data across the library (and the campus) and how a library system might bring this together. Someone mentioned the LMS as a dashboard that aggregated disparate data sets from across the library and campus. The system becomes secondary to the data.
This also came out in the discussions around ‘non-traditional assets’ and how libraries are able to integrate services such as reading lists with resource discovery, VLEs and repositories.
Skills and roles
This was a theme that seemed to run throughout the two days. In particular there was significant discussion around the future and transformation of library systems and its impact on current and future staff roles and the skills required.
This issue runs through the library from the practitioner librarians and the new skills and roles that are developing, to managers and senior managers and how they adjust to managing and obtaining these new roles. these new roles may also be frequently outside the physical library, or roles that are not traditionally recognised as part of the library skill-set, and so new ways of working and adaptation to those roles will be required.
Furthermore, there may be a tension between another of the themes, sharing services and systems, and the ability to develop, maintain and justify the relevant skills locally. There was a lot of discussion around whether the outsourcing or sharing of infrastructure (systems in this case), actually affects the local skills the library has. Infrastructure and skills are often thought of as separate, yet the two are more intimately connected than might be expected.
The reality, however, is I suspect more complex than this. Institutions may have already outsourced or shared services and systems; the question is then whether they are able to still develop skills and new roles. Furthermore, there might be some potential for shared services to become central ‘pools’ for developing and deploying these new roles and developing skills. Deployed locally when necessary: enabling institutions to continue to innovative and collaborate.
Unsurprisingly this was a big topic of discussion – both in terms of skills as discussed above, and in terms of defining those services and functions that are maintained locally and those that can benefit from above-campus infrastructure.
There was also some interesting suggestions around a UK research reserve for monographs (something that has been discussed at JISC as well), and considerations around national union catalogues and similar initiatives. Resurrecting the notion of a national union catalogue did somewhat divide the delegates; it was clear that discussions around such infrastructure should be driven by requirements, rather than the assumption that a union catalogue is the answer.
While I don’t think it was ever articulated openly, there seemed to be a sense that the large, one size fits all shared LMS (whether local or shared) was no longer viable, or particularly attractive. Instead new models are needed – I don’t know what these are necessarily, but they seem to demand a new vision of shared infrastructure around library systems (and services).
It was clear that any future library system (whether local, shared, above campus etc) would provide the user with the ability to personalise, and to a greater extent, control their library experience. This relates back to the considerations of data earlier, but more significantly the user is able to take that data with them as they both progress within the institution and move beyond it (warning: I may be straying slightly into Paul Walk’s future vision of the library!).
JISC has done significant amounts of work around personalisation, in particular the activity data work could be very instrumental in understanding this area further. Iportant work still needs to be done on simple issue around ownership of the data and legal issues, before the more technical issues can start to be addressed more fundamentally.
The discussion was far richer than my abve comments might lead one to believe, but I just wanted to outline some of the highlights.
One of the critical things I took away with me was the need to constantly place these kinds of discussions within wider institutional strategic contexts (research etc). It is easy to deal with these types of issues as if they are hermetically sealed, whereas the reality is much more complex, with various different drivers and barriers.
As I mentioned above, the workshop had a very clear purpose: To help shape a new vision for library systems. This aim was made concrete in a recent funding call I have written and that will be published in very early February: see here for details. This workshop therefore provides a baseline that I can look back on in 12 months time and see what the landscape looked like in early 2012!
[All the presentations and provocations will be made available online as part of the forthcoming Library Systems Programme on the JISC webpages].