Author Archives: ostephens

University of East Anglia

On the 8th February 2011 a use case meeting was held at the University of East Anglia (UEA). The documentation is available as a pdf, and Nicholas Lewis, Director of Library Services at UEA wrote a short summary of the meeting from his point of view.

At UEA on 8th February we initially worked on a new use case: “12-Journal title moves between publishers”. We identified the potential benefits of a centralised Knowledgebase to assist with this kind of change which might include details of the old publisher platform, the new publisher platform, where the archive might be held, whether access would be retained to the archive, the timescales for the change, etc. However, as we reflected on our current workflow in such circumstances, we also agreed that there were some key questions that needed to be asked in this process whenever it arose, no matter what the individual title. These ‘questions in common’ might be worth including in a shared environment? But we also recognised there would still be a need for some local information to be stored, for example, depending on local practices around cataloguing, etc. In aspects of this workflow where there is greater divergence between institutions, there is probably little benefit in insisting on shared service. That said, we were rightly challenged by David and Owen to think about the extent which we might be prepared to change local practices, such as e-journal cataloguing, in order to benefit from above ‘above campus’ services. As we concluded our discussions on this use case, we agreed that there were similarities between this and our pilot use case: “13-Publisher changes platform”, and so it was agreed that our final written up use case would combine both.

We also spent some time discussing scenario 16: usage data, and had a very engaging discussion about how usage data and cost data (and therefore cost per download) were often just a starting point in a wider process of evaluating the value of individual journals. At UEA we are embarking on a pre-emptive exercise to review journals which have a high cost per download (above the cost of an interlending request) to see what additional qualitative evidence there may be to justify retention, rather than solely relying on usage statistics. However, usage statistics do have their value in identifying the most highly used titles and those which would therefore not require any additional qualitative evidence. In terms of a potential shared service, we do see the value of a portal which would enable us to harvest (hopefully automatically via SUSHI protocol) some of the key usage statistics and, as time went on, this would enable us to do more sophisticated modelling around cost per download (over a number of years, not just over the most recent year, for example) and also potentially to benchmark with other institutions (if they agreed). The need for some local fields in any such shared statistics portal, or at least the ability to export easily and manipulate the data in a suitable third party package, would be important.

Finally David and I discussed some areas of shared interest in terms of prototype services being developed at JISC Collections, see

All in all, a very lively, engaging and enlightening day. We benefitted hugely from the experience David and Owen have been building up over the last few weeks. We trust the forthcoming events will be a great success and congratulations to the Board on gaining the funding announced by HEFCE yesterday!

University of Huddersfield

On the 7th February 2011 a use case meeting was held at the University of Huddersfield. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at Huddersfield wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

The meeting at Huddersfield was held on 7 February, with David Kay and Regina Ferguson on behalf of the project and Sue White (Director of Library Services), Eileen Hiller (Technical Services Manager), Graham Stone (E-Resources Manager), Dave Pattern (Library Systems Manager) and Allison Larkins (Journals Librarian).

Huddersfield has been considering an ERM system for some time, however, towards the end of 2010 this idea was mothballed due to concerns over staffing and implementation costs. Despite this, Huddersfield is firmly committed to the principle of an ERM system and was broadly supportive when asked to take part in the SCONUL Shared Services project.

In advance of the meeting we decided on 5 issues to discuss in detail, which we felt formed a logical series of steps:

  • Selection of a new e-journal
  • Trial of a new e-journal
  • Renewal of a e-journal subscription
  • Cancellation of a journal title
  • Publisher changes platform

At the beginning of the 3 hour meeting we challenged the idea of an ‘e-journal’, preferring to encompass e-resources such as databases and e-books and also to include print journals as they are often tied into the e-journal subscriptions.

The implementation of Summon at Huddersfield, plus the change of link resolvers and move to a new subscription agent in 2010 had led both the E-resources and Journals Teams to reconsider their workflows. As such the E-resources Team had already started to put together a new workflow before Christmas; this was taken on by Allison who developed detailed workflows for the 5 areas above.

These were presented to David and Regina in the meeting and discussion soon focussed around them. A lot of very valuable feedback was exchanged between both groups, the result being a further improvement to the workflows (and more work for Allison!). Particular attention was given to the green boxes on the flow charts, e.g. evaluation, information gathering, and these were identified as areas where a shared service ERM could potentially help to cut out duplication of effort across institutions. The revised workflows were also discussed at the meeting in London on 9 February. This resulted in us wanting to look at an e-books workflow in the future.

The meeting was extremely useful and Huddersfield is now firmly committed to the idea of a Shared Service, be it above campus or with the inclusion of certain commercial providers.

University of Swansea

On the 31st January 2011 a use case meeting was held at the University of Swansea. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at Swansea wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

There was an excellent meeting at Swansea, on 31st January, with Ken Chad and Angela Walker representing the project, and Mark Hughes, Paul Andrew Brown, Paul Johnson, Nina Whitcombe, Ann Preece and Kathy Sivertsen representing Swansea.

Swansea do not have an ERM product currently, but are already involved in other Shared Services frameworks within Wales, and are extremely likely to take full part in any library relevant shared service approaches to come out of a wider Welsh HE agenda.

Prior to the meeting we identified 4 topics for discussion – the selection of platform for new e-journal subscriptions; Discovery to Delivery; publisher changes platform ; and budget & accounting for e-journals

After some general discussion of all these areas, we decided to focus & really drill down to the detail on the particular use case of renewing an e-journal subscription. Here it seemed that while there are already efficiencies in place in terms of ‘above campus’ services i.e. Swansea’s use of the agent Swets to handle much of the renewal processes, there were still some significant pain points that revolved around connecting together various technology platforms both inside the library e.g. with SFX & with outside agencies e.g. Swets’ systems, internal Finance Dept systems, and bridging the gap between current system functionality and potentially more efficient library processes.

Overall impressions throughout the meeting were that actually Swansea, and Wales overall, already has in place a number of ‘above campus’ type platforms to which it puts good use e.g. HEPCW procurement deals e.g. Swets, WHELF E-Books deal with NetLibrary, with potentially more on the way via WHELF led shared services projects. Any outcome from the project at a wider shared service basis would need to either link seamlessly with these or have to offer significant benefits in shifting platform to Welsh libraries in order to justify their taking part. It also became clear that managing e-resources has several ‘problem spaces’ that don’t have an ‘above campus’ solution at present, and these represent the areas of opportunity for at least the early stages of any UK wide agenda e.g. around data sharing / Knowledge base type issues…more problematic for the UK wide approach may be in entering spaces where competing ‘above campus’ services are already available or in place.

A very useful meeting that both helped clarify our thoughts (which will in turn be fed back into the WHELF Shared Services Agenda), and hopefully Ken and Angela’s too. This type of cross-pollination of ideas between Sconul’s national agenda and institutional / small consortium based projects will hopefully lead to outcomes that are beneficial to all.

University of Edinburgh

On the 24th January 2011 a use case meeting was held at the University of Edinburgh. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at Edinburgh wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

There was a good meeting at Edinburgh, on 24th January, with Owen Stephens and Angela Walker representing the project, and Simon Bains, Anne Bell, Charles Gray, Elize Rowan and Liz Stevenson representing Edinburgh.

We have licensed an ERM package but have not yet implemented the service – we’ve considered partial implementation, to create a repository of licence information, but the resourcing of that work remains an issue.  We recognise that the need for an ERM or equivalent is critical – to manage the life-cycle of any e-resource; to provide accurate data and information to colleagues, and to track subscriptions, packages and licence agreements effectively and ultimately to improve efficiency.

Prior to the meeting we identified 4 topics for discussion – the selection of platform for e-book purchases; the tracking of expenditure of e-journals and packages; archival rights; and the migration to consortium purchasing of packages.

It was helpful to reflect on all of these, and in the end we focussed on the tracking of e-journals expenditure, including Big Deals and associated licence fees, for our case study, and will be interested to know if our issues and challenges mirror those of other institutions.  We looked at the full cycle, from the point of recommendation for purchase, through to payment, renewal, and cancellation.  The workflows and processes were discussed in detail, and we identified a number of limitations of the LMS in handling the data needed to effectively manage e-resources.  One example of this – while expenditure on subscriptions is recorded at title level, there is also a requirement to have full details of all titles associated with a collection or Big Deal.

We also spent some time discussing the challenges of identifying and recording information about archival rights, both at package and title level, and this also included discussion around the recording of details of licences.  The information is needed both to manage collections effectively, and to inform decisions about the retention [or not] of print.  A national repository of machine readable licence agreements would help with this, especially if the documents could be amended at institutional level to include details of institutional subscriptions and any commercially confidential information such as pricing.  We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and sharing these core documents makes good sense.  Being able to share or publicise details of key clauses is also important, particularly where there are regular queries to identify, for example, whether material can be used for interlibrary loan, or whether articles/chapters can be used in course packs.

University of Warwick

On the 2nd February 2011 a use case meeting was held at the University of Warwick. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at Warwick wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

The University of Warwick’s Use Case Workshop was attended by Anne Bell (University Librarian), Robin Green (Deputy Librarian), Stuart Hunt (Data Services Manager), Finola Osborn (Procurement Manager), Claire Townsend (Resources Officer) and James Fisher (Digital Access Manager). It was facilitated by David Kay and Owen Stephens.

During the workshop we considered 5 Use Cases in varying degrees of detail. These were as follows:

  • New e-book purchase/subscription – (a) Select Platform
  • Cancellation of a journal title
  • Publisher changes platform
  • Budget and accounting for e-journals
  • Discovery to delivery

The discussion flowed quickly from one topic to the next and despite spending the best part of 5 hours around the table the session passed in next to no time. The cases highlighted the different tasks required to be carried out by various teams within the Library and the dependencies between the teams. More details were provided in response to searching questions from David and Owen. It became apparent how disjointed many of our processes are due to the fact that those processes have developed ad-hoc in response to external factors that we can’t control. The phrase “you wouldn’t start here” was used on at least one occasion. Hopefully, lessons can be learned from this when setting up any new shared services.

We spent a significant proportion of the workshop explaining the processes involved in a major periodicals review which took place in the summer of 2009. This seemed a valuable experience to share with colleagues at other institutions and the results are still being used to make renewal and cancellation decisions today.

All in all it was a very interesting day and hopefully we all learned something. We look forward to the session in London due to take place in a few days time.

University of Stirling

On the 27th January 2011 a use case meeting was held at the University of Stirling. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at Stirling wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

We have a strong commitment to providing material in electronic form and the issues relating to licensing, budgeting and, crucially, collection management have been at the forefront of discussions at Stirling for some time. As we have not yet implemented the ERM module of our LMS, we are very interested in the possibilities that may accrue from a shared service.

A small team of staff is looking at the project here: Mark Toole, the Director of Information Services, Colin Sinclair, Library Content Manager and Sonia Wilson, Serials and Eresources Librarian. Prior to the visit from David and Ken, we considered the use cases and selected 5 areas that caused us significant “pain”. On reflection, we bit off rather more than we could chew and were able to collate our thoughts on 3 of the areas – relating to the purchase of ebooks , moving subscriptions to consortium deals and the gathering of usage statistics. In what proved an interesting and wide ranging discussion on the 27th of Jan, we focussed on the issues relating to moving subs to consortium deals.

This area has a particular angle for Scottish university libraries as a result of the SHEDL initiative which has successfully delivered extensive new content to Scottish HEIs from a range of publishers including CUP, OUP, Springer, Berg and others. The key differential between SHEDL and NESLI deals is that SHEDL is not an “opt-in” deal, we commit to the deal up front, publishers get a guaranteed income, a three year (typically) commitment and a reduced admin overhead (one bill not several) and we get additional content. We also reflected on the type of licence that an e-content licence is and how closely they mirror licences we sign for software, for example.

Stirling has benefited greatly from the SHEDL initiative, as seen in the increased use of the content our users can now access. In terms of managing the resources, it has had financial implications, both in terms of the amount we spend in this way and how we arrange our budgets. It also affects what we do with the related print content. Our discussion ever speculated on how we might make more efficient use of university finance systems and speed the process of ordering and “switching on” e-access. Maybe we got a little bit carried away.

Our discussions on ebooks, while somewhat shorter, were no less interesting. The buying process at Stirling is driven by the consortial purchasing framework which selects from three ebook vendors. Our processes are still fluid in this area, but managing a procurement process that requires a mini-competition poses some challenges. We long for the day when we can gather details of availability and price for ebooks content from all aggregators and publishers from a single location, comparethe(ebook)market .com? Not as all simples.

We look forward to sharing our experiences and thoughts with other libraries taking part in the project.

The Open University

On the 1st February 2011 a use case meeting was held at the Open University. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at the Open University wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

The Open University Library Services SCONUL ERM Case Study workshop was held on 1st February.  Facilitated by David Kay and Owen Stephens, the session brought together a group of staff across Library Services led by the Director Nicky Whitsed and including members of the Content and Licensing, Learning and Teaching and Systems teams.

Starting with a review of our E-resources processes we touched on our increasingly rapid move towards a mainly electronic model and looked at some of the differences that the OU model of study implies for Library Services.  At the OU students are currently studying a module at a time with gaps in study being the norm.   We talked about how OU models are changing and potential areas of convergence with other HE models as we move to the new funding regime.

Over the course of the four hour workshop we spent a lot of time looking at licensing, particularly the challenges of e-book licensing.  We talked about the approach we take to ensure that e-books can work with course models that may have as many as 3,000 students needing access to a single chapter at the same time for a single week of the course, but that isn’t looked at for the rest of the year.  What emerged was an understanding of the amount of work we do to ensure we have the right licenses for our needs.

We went through four possible use case scenarios (e-book procurement, usage data, budgeting and discovery to delivery) but settled for working up a use case on e-books.  Discussing our approach to Discovery to Delivery was interesting as it led us to a discussion about how we use the SFX knowledge base to add to our Ebsco Discovery Solution and the realisation that it would be feasible to use a Knowledge Base at an ‘above campus’ level in the same way.  Another interesting idea that came out of the discussions was the value that might be gained from some form of ‘e-books In Print’ solution.

On reflection the workshop gave us a chance to think about our processes and how they might change, where there might be opportunities to look at alternative ‘above the campus’ solutions, and where there might be convergence trends across the sector.

University of East Anglia – Take 1

The first use case looking at the idea of ERM as a shared service was a proof-of-concept exercise carried out last year with the University of East Anglia (UEA). For completeness, this is included here, although it will be updated later this year after another meeting at UEA. The use case is available as a pdf.

Nick Lewis, the Library Director at UEA, spoke about the methodology used and his views on the exercise in November 2010, and a transcript of his talk is also made available here.

University of the Creative Arts

On the 11th January 2011 a use case meeting was held at the University of the Creative Arts. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at UCA wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

University for the Creative Arts had our ERM workshop near the start of New Year; an apt time for reflection on the processes we use to manage our electronic resources.

My colleague David Hodgson and I, regarding what we do as fairly straightforward, didn’t anticipate that the discussion would last nearly five hours! Using a low key, conversational style, Ken and Regina expertly teased out the finer points of UCA Library’s ‘e’ landscape, helping us to articulate our practices in far more depth than we have done previously.

We thought about how e-orientated the library service has become; our Virtual (e-book) Library now has the second largest book collection of our 6 ‘branches’ and e-journal titles outnumber print 24:1.

We considered the complexities of dealing with a diverse range of suppliers and the number of platforms our e-resources are delivered on – 45 and growing.

We chose statistics as our use case. Whilst we don’t want to gather statistics for the sake of it, we do need more accurate, meaningful data to help in collection management decisions and to demonstrate the contribution that licensed electronic information resources make to the teaching and research of the University. More granular usage information could also help us better target the promotion of e-resources.

Our needs will differ from elsewhere, but being able to see usage information from other organisations about resources we are considering purchasing could assist with evaluation decisions. Having a single ‘above campus’  interface for accessing statistics would also be a great time saver.

We appreciate being involved with the other institutions and hope that our position as a smaller, specialist institution will contribute a useful perspective on the project.

University of Southampton

On 12th January a use case meeting was held at the University of Southampton. The documentation is available as a pdf, and the team at Southampton wrote a short summary of the meeting from their point of view.

We met with David and Ken on 12 January.  Present for the discussion were the Librarian, Deputy Librarian, Head of Acquisitions and Head of E-Library Services.  We discussed two areas of potential for shared ERM: managing e-books and migration to e-only journal subscriptions. We reviewed current processes for e-book selection and management, and concluded that much e-book purchase was mainstreamed within Acquisitions and that there was insufficient volatility to justify a shared service for platform selection and management. The migration to e-only was agreed to be a more fruitful area. Southampton had started the move to e-only for its journals about 3 years ago and the thinking in preparation for this had gone on for a couple of years previously.  The Use Case discussion helped prompt us to recall the various stages that we had gone through in preparation for the step change, and to question how we were carrying forward existing policies and procedures into current practice.

There were two key factors that precipitated our move to e-only.  The first was a University decision to close down a site which, amongst other things contained our Biomedical Sciences Library.  The second factor was our participation in the first UKRR pilot. We had a large amount of journal material to relocate into the main University Library which was essentially ‘full’, we had project funding for the move, and we also had a certain amount of project funding for the UKRR activities.  There was a third factor, and that was the subject area to be moved.  Within biomedical sciences generally, there is an expectation amongst the academics and researchers of working within an electronic environment.  Thus we were working with a stakeholder user group who were very supportive.

Although we used the particular circumstances outlined above to construct our policy and methodology in respective of moving to e-only, we were able to apply what we had learned to other parts of the Library collections, as appropriate.  Our work with UKRR continues and we also continue to reduce the amount of space occupied by paper materials in order to improve ease of access and to free up space for other user activities within our libraries.

We have a substantial Library Digitisation Unit which also contributes to our move to convert content to electronic media and so our migration is not necessarily confirmed to buying in commercial content.