Leeds Needs Well Met

A trip to Leeds Metropolitan University to meet up with Nick Sheppard was the order of the day recently.  Nick is Repository Developer at the Headingley Library and was on hand to share his views and experiences of implementing intraLibrary as their open access research repository.

Repository projects at Leeds Met were originally funded by JISC as part of the UKOER programme and, after looking at various options, intraLibrary was identified as the most suitable platform.  The fact that it is designed more for learning objects, rather than the research output that Leeds intended to use it for, led to a fair amount of further development work and customisation.

After a blisteringly fast-paced, and tangent-shifting yet insightful morning running through the highs and lows of this process, we moved on to look at the practical side of dealing with CLA requests using intraLibrary. 

This is similar to the process we use here for our own CLA book chapter and journal article requests.  To see the same steps followed via intraLibrary was beneficial and highlighted similar advantages and similar issues to those often experienced here using UCEEL / Formtek. 

We looked at adding collections, metadata templates, coversheets, uploading items, tutor notification, and renewals.  The interface may well look a little different, but the principles and workflows remain much the same. 

All in all, it proved to be a very useful visit, even if the final pulse-pounding dash for the train could have been filmed for an eLibrary version of The Bourne Identity.  Look out for the exciting trailer coming to a blog near you soon.

So, a big thanks to Nick and co at Leeds Met.


Copyright, London and Wombles

written copyright symbol

They are giving away walking maps at Euston for the Olympics. Most punters chose the underground. I am not a Womble, so I walked to the venue for CILIP’s Executive Briefing; eCopyright for Libraries and Archives. 
It was worth getting wet.

There are few things as complex as the current UK copyright landscape and
Nick Poole’s keynote presentation confirmed this. Commenting upon recent UK and EU issues, he stated that there was no certainty in any proposed recommendations. This included the government commissioned Hargreaves Review of IP and Growth. Lobbying and responding to any calls for evidence was advocated to protect the positions of both libraries and archives.
Maybe I am part of an underground movement after all? 

This stance was also championed by
Naomi Korn in her more in depth look at Hargreaves. She talked about the speed of technological change in comparison to that of legislative; the nebulosity of the proposed Digital Copyright Exchange; that there were over 50 million orphan works across sectors and there will be no safeguards to educational exceptions whilst they are not protected by legal measures.

Ben White, Head of Intellectual Property at the British Library concentrated on orphan works. Here there is still discussion to be had about the definition and understanding of the issues surrounding these types of work. We will hopefully see a White Paper this year.

Emily Goodhand gave us an IP Case Law Update. This is always useful for interpreting fair dealing. We were given an overview of the UK legal system and she commented upon the recent NLA v Meltwater/PRCA case where as little as 11 words mattered when it came to a claim regarding copyright.

Georgia Angelaki, Business and Policy Development Coordinator, Europeana talked about the importance of standards and the project’s approach to open content licensing.

Heather Caven and Roxanne Peters outlined  a more efficient and holistic approach to rights management at the V&A. This is an attempt to mitigate clearance of rights processes.  In the past it has taken 35 working days to clear 1150 rights for 850 posters (the example that they used). They emphasised the need to be proactive, get senior level championship and match your work practice to the policy of the institution.
What is the copyright policy of your institution?

Sustainability of digital resources was the topic presented by Sarah Fahmy from The Strategic Content Alliance. The key to which is the IP that you own.

Did I say that it was a packed day?

On my return walk to Euston, a man flew past me holding onto a map the size of a small car. The latter must have got caught on the wind.  A walking map perhaps?  A sticking plaster approach to a much larger problem?  Not exactly fit for purpose much the same as current copyright policy.  At Euston, a man on his phone told a caller that he was at King’s Cross; evidently he was as bemused as I. Even so, I hope to do the right thing when it comes to clearing rights.

Just like Orinoco in fact, maybe I am a Womble after all…. now where did I put that felt hat?

eCopyLite Twitter or You may find yourself…*

A4 File BindersThe world of copyright has notched up a gear recently. It’s getting a lot of press and there are many moves mooted. The Hargreaves’ Report has been significant in generating discussion, particularly with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)  petitioning for copyright consultation with regard to the proposals. Many groups have posted their responses on the web; an example of which is the Libraries and Archives Copyright Alliance (LACA). Ploughing through 114 questions (none of them tick box) wasn’t something that I had ever envisaged doing but I responded. How did I get here? *

Increasing moves towards electronic services and improving their accessibility means that copyright is becoming more of an issue for the eLibrary team‘s Digital Library Officers. It is certainly taking up more of our time. The eCopyLite Twitter account is an attempt at keeping abreast of current events and tweeting those that may be relevant to staff and students. Without it, we probably wouldn’t have taken a once in a lifetime* chance to shape the future of copyright. With regard to the resulting legislation, our job will still be about balancing expectation against what can be delivered. In terms of librarianship that is the same as it ever was*.

*acknowledgement: Talking Heads, Once in a Lifetime .

Scanners and me…

Zeutschel and Nikon scanning equipment...

Welcome to my Blog-spot-thingy. My name is Philip Sidaway and I’m a Digital Library Assistant – hmm…that sounds like a computer program.

Any way enough of that. I started with the University around, erm…7 years ago…I think. I joined the Digital Library (UCEEL) first of all and stayed there for 2 years, then I had a transfer to BIAD for around 2 years. In a strange twist of fate a position came back up at the Digital Library again and I moved back and I’ve been here ever since.

As you may know the Digital Library contains lots of collections from book extracts, journal articles, exam papers, student projects, images; it even has audio and video content on it too.

I am involved in the day-to-day production of the content that goes on to the DL. I use a varied array of equipment and software. The book scanners I use are made by Zeutschel (a german company) and are solid…built like a tank. The larger A1 and A0 scanners can capture a massive 500mb-1gb of RGB data in one pass and are particularly useful for digitising maps, plans and even canvas paintings. The smaller desktop scanners are great for books and journal articles.  We have two Nikon film scanners and a number of flatbed scanners. I digitise book articles and journal articles and images for external projects (DCS clients and outside institutions). I am involved in the post production artwork for these images, which includes enhancement, colour correction and re-touching as well as patching images together too.

Zeutschel os10000 and os10000 TT scanners...

Other aspects of my job include making book articles and journal articles screen readable (OCR). Preparing students projects for upload and uploading them onto the DL, this involves removing potentially copyrighted material and re-formating the documents so that the text flows properly again. I attach search criteria and metadata to the documents and upload them onto the server. I also put exam papers and video content on-line and do file conversion too.

The software I have used includes various flavours of scanning software, FineReader, Photoshop, Avid, DreamWeaver and Illustrator.

Joe and me...

And now for something completely different…back in October 2011 a small Sidaway came onto the planet by the name of Joseph. He’s even smaller than me…yep he’s a micro Sidaway. Any way my wife took this fantastic picture of my son Joseph in the pool with his coach along side (that’s me…hehe). Joe’s in full training for the 2012 Olympics, so move out Phelps cause here comes Joseph…sorry folks couldn’t resist.

Library Systems and Systems Librarians

a data general mini computer tape deck from the 1990's

20th Century tech

Back in the day Libraries generally had one main computer system; this was the Library Management System (LMS) that drove the core back and front end operations and services. In the late 1980’s and early ’90’s ours ran on a computer the size of a fridge freezer that lived in the basement of Kenrick. It was temperamental, fiddly to operate and required a fair amount of care and attention. It took several of the tapes in this photo to back up the data every morning, so someone had to be on hand to remove each tape and load up the next one until the process was finished.

In 2012 we have any number of computer systems running the myriad services that we offer, but we still have an LMS at the centre of things. These days it’s called Alto, and it’s this that the Systems Librarians look after. For the time being it still runs on a computer in the basement of Kenrick (it’s a lot smaller than a fridge freezer), but in our highly connected times it could just as well run on a remote or virtual server anywhere in the world.

As well as Alto Chris & I have responsibility for Prism, the RFID and EM driven self service kiosks, Sentry at Kenrick, and our venerable reading list system.

“Looking after” the LMS essentially means making sure that the systems are all functioning correctly and are available to staff and Library users when and where they are needed. Beside the basic technical stuff of dealing with software updates, managing the day to day running and troubleshooting problems the work is largely based around communication and liaison; we spend a lot of time discussing the ever changing business requirements of Library and Learning Resources with colleagues, then trying to ensure that the systems are configured to support these. We work with our external system suppliers so that they are aware of our business and our development needs, and we liaise very closely with our colleagues in CICT so that they understand what the Library wants to do, and are able to provide the infrastructure that we need to deliver our services.

A key area for us is to develop and improve the integration of our systems into the overall IT infrastructure of the University so over the last few years we’ve seen a Library widget launched in the iCity portal, and we’ve introduced an epayment option for Library fines, based on the University’s online shop. We’ve improved the ways in which we take and use information from the Student Records System, and we will shortly be starting to develop for the first time some links  between Alto and the HR system that will allow us to manage Library records for University staff more effectively.

The eLibrary team covers a lot of ground, and like the rest of the team I regularly get the opportunity to be involved with projects outside the core work that I do. This year I’ll be working alongside colleagues to help ensure that Summon is as good as we can make it when we launch in the Autumn, and I’m representing us on a large project currently underway across the University to deliver an integrated Access Control System for the TEE, the Mary Seacole Building, and for the new building currently going up in the City Centre.

My Role in the eLibrary Team

I’m John Farren, the newest member of the eLibrary team.

Beside eLibrary related work, I also have duties as part of the Lending Services team; generally one or two hours per day on the Library Help Desk, and an hour dedicated to the war against chaos and entropy a.k.a. tidying and reshelving books.

In the eLibrary team my primary role is Athens user support, which I have been doing for several years now, previously from the Academic Support team,

The first thing I do every day is to check the Athens enquiries inbox; the aim is always to respond to queries ASAP.

Query numbers vary quite a lot; always seem to be highest when the final assignments are set after Easter.

As well as email response, there may be Athens related enquiries by phone or for support of students at the Help Desk; average at present seems to be couple of these per day.

Other aspects of eLibrary I am only beginning to learn; among these I am currently learning to use the ABBYY FineReader OCR software. Previously the eLibrary team has used version 7 of this; unfortunately we have found that my new Windows 7 PC and FineReader 7 don’t like to play togeter, so I am trying to learn version 9. And have already learnt the worth of the motto “back up early, back up often” on losing the proofread output at page 96 of a 105 page file.

FineReader seems excellent in terms of OCR, but perhaps less so in editing the output. Today I had a brief experiment of exporting to Word document with the idea editing there before converting to PDF.
Unfortunately the Word import does not seem able to retain the pagination and separated footnote fields of the FineReader batch.

Circulation statistics

Confessions of a Travelling Digital LIbrary Officer by Beth Delwiche


As I approached the UK Border Agent peering down at  the long line of travellers bearing non EU passports ,  I hoped  that I wouldn’t be held up for long.  The journey  from  Nassau, Bahamas to Birmingham was long and tiring.  My annual leave would soon be a thing of the past like warm sunshine, palm trees, and the azure waters of the Carribbean.

It was my turn to come up to the desk to hand over my travel documents  and the landing card filled out with my  name, address, occupation, and other sundry details.  I said a cheerless ”Good morning” to the civil servant  and gave him my card and passport.

Mr. Border Agent replied “How long how you been out of the country?”  “One week” I said.

Mr. Border  Agent nodded his head  like the Churchill advertising dog.  He then asked a second question that I never wouldn’t have anticipated  in a million years.  “ I see you have written on your card, Ms. Delwiche,  that you are a  Digital Library Officer.  Hmm what exactly do you do? “  I wished  all of a sudden that I was a nurse or a fireman as everyone  knows  that they save lives and wouldn’t be asked this question in the first place. But instead, I said, “I’m glad you asked me that” and replied with the following.

“I have been working for the past nine years on the Digital Library, known as UCEEL.   It contains all sorts of interesting collections, namely, book extracts, journal articles, images, audio, video, and exam papers.  These are bespoke materials which means that it isn’t like other commercial electronic resources but people still get confused and think we are part of Athens or another elearning objects repository.”

“When the lecturer sends out the form, I carefully analyse each request and  make sure it complies with the various licences that the university holds such as the CLA (Copyright Licensing Agency) ,ERA (Educational Recording Agency), or sometimes it can qualify as an exception to the Copyright Act.”

“If the request  exceeds what can been done,  I contact the lecturer or librarian involved and suggest other ways of obtaining the materials either through the purchase of an ebook,  or arranging permissions with publishers directly, or clearing chapters through a copyright  clearing service called HERON. I represent the university on the HERON User Group and attend meetings where I keep up to date on copyright and other relevant intellectual property law developments. “

“Recently, I have begun twittering about copyright on eCopyLite  and working on developing  ways of informing other members of staff about copyright with my line manager, Damyanti, and, my digital library officer colleague, Nikki.  I would like to think that my job is to act as an advisor on these issues”.

“ Nikki, the other digital library officer, and myself are a rare breed, as there are only two of us that have this role. Each day is different (for me that is Wed-Fri).  Not all I do is copyright, I am interested in repositories, developing  workflows, knowledgeable of metadata, user interfaces, and  working on special projects  with other members of the elibrary team.”

Mr. Border Agent’s eyes began to glaze over and then he quickly stamped my passport. As I moved onto the baggage claim, I could swear I heard him say under his breath, “ I hope the next one is a  firefighter.”

One Day in the Life of an Electronic Services Librarian

Unlike this, or this, my day usually starts with a coffee, then emails. I don’t have the luxury of email zero, it’s usually just making sure I don’t miss important ones. One of my main areas of work centres on the implementation of Summon,and what’s significant for me about this is that it is a joint Library/CICT project that will hugely impact our access to electronic resources which are currently held in separate places.

Being responsible for ‘Electronic Services’ has up until now meant responsibility  for those platforms where most of our eresources are accessed (eg AtoZ of Electronic ResourcesAtoZ of Electronic Journals, and/or also making sure that the methods of authentication for all of them we have in place (Athens,IP, username and password) work as smoothly as possible. Since last September, we offered a login route to our eresources through iCity that has reduced enquiries solely avia our Athens email box to about 300 over six months, so more common issues now centre around content: have we switched on full-text content to we have actually paid for, etc? Are we giving access to the right people?

Summon isn’t magic: it only ‘knows’ about most of our electronic collections if we tell it what we think those resources are, so today I am trying to work out why the holdings that we have via our subscription agent  don’t match those of the publisher (18% of our initial download from Swets didn’t match up with our Elsevier holdings according to Summon, for example). I contact several publishers eg CUP,Taylor and Francis) to start finding out about metadata for our institutional journal subs. I also begin a template to load third party holdings from Ingenta in to our Summon admin area,but decide to put this on hold for a while. Data problems are a longstanding issue, even with national initiatives like KBART, and especially where we don’t buy that many big ready-made deals.

After some mild twittering with @benelwell from Wolverhampton and then, over lunch, chat with @TheCloudSurfer over a new design for a website for a band I play in, I bump into one of the CICT developers for iCity. He confirms that a recent change he had made to the business rules concerning Athens was now working. Back at my desk,after reading the new Student Access Network Policy,I suggest a rewording to a new message screen for alumni (still to be approved:-).

Working out how all to satisfy both our students expectation & get them through the publisher paywalls as painlessly & legally as possible might be easier once we trial some authentication ‘middleware’ called EZproxy. I am excited about this a) because I asked for this software 5 years ago, and b) I want to stop reduce the numbers of hurdles wherever possible that we throw in front of the student –  hurdles like this damage the student experience.

I’m looking forward to testing EZproxy on my phone, and then I remember the mlibs project from Evidence Base here – if only web platform access was as painless as that via mobile apps : we promoted the EBSCO mobile app here some while back for example, and once students register they get access to our subscribed content on their phones, that can be set to remember their logins. I’m keen to be involved in mobile learning, and without sounding too corny, it is the future.

I manage a central fund for electronic resources,so in the afternoon follows some fund management,checking how to measure spend across financial rather than calendar year, following new procedures I agreed with our Finance Officer. Then it’s more of a mixed bag : reading our Dignity at Work policy for the Line Managers Forum I’m attending tomorrow, trying to establish whether colleagues asked us to renew their subscription to an eresource that has been up on our AtoZ pages for a number of months, signing up for a JISC webinar on www.jisc-elcat.com their new machinable readable license system which I picked up via a tweet from JISC’s @carenmilloy, posting on our eresource blog about an Index to Theses problem (now resolved).

Luckily today I have not had to think about whether our authentication systems are giving the right people the right permissions to access content: I was involved in the initial Information Architecture Review at BCU some years back, and it is an increasingly uphill and relevant struggle, particularly as the University focusses outward on partnerships with other institutions. Last year I raised a CICT project proposal for OpenAthensLA that is still on the table, as our current version of Athens is no longer being actively developed by Eduserv, it has also free authentication ‘middleware’ (like EZproxy) that comes bundled with the subscription. But first we have to define who those users are, in a way that our systems can understand – there is a long legacy of working in silos across the institution to unpick.

My day finishes by replying to a student who couldn’t get into an electronic journal on Swets, who had logged on fine but maybe had not realised that she was only being offered an abstract or summary rather than the full-text, so in a way I end where I began…..

A typical working day in the life of Chris Langham

My name is Chris Langham and I work on the eLibrary Team. I am the Deputy Systems Librarian, working closely with my colleague Robin Major looking after the Library Management System (Capita), controlled access at Kenrick (Sentry ISIS) and as well as other computer systems in Library and Learning Resources.

A typical day, starts out with doing the morning checks: checking that systems are operational and that overnight batch processes (such as generating overdue emails) have worked correctly. Library systems are robust and usually any problems that have arisen are due to the University’s IT infrastructure, system emails not being delivered etc.

As for the remainder of the day, to make a trite observation, no two days are rarely the same. I still spend a fair chunk of working time producing Management Information Reports, even though most of the frequently requested and straightforward reports have been devolved to end Staff users. Remainder of my time is typically spent working on projects. Examples of a recent project are the changes to My Assignment Planner to bring this website more in line with the University’s corporate look and feel. This has involved website design and working with CSS and HTML. Other tasks over the past year have included writing new Student borrower import scripts in perl to introduce changes needed for Customer Service Excellence reporting. Writing minutes of meetings, typically one of my least favourite parts of the job – attempting to transcribe my scrawl; interpreting seemingly random or contradictory words/phases hammered into a word document; or trying to decide how to minute a point, which has been discussed at a least three times in the meeting, each time coming to a slightly different conclusion!

Are you any wiser?

Eye of toy owlOfficial forms and officials that’s where my job title causes trouble. Insurance companies have no category for it and I often resign myself to this fact with a sigh of “librarian”. My family and friends have no idea of what I do for a living. Digital Library Officer gets such responses as “that’s nice”, a glazed look or “is that something to do with the police?” I suspect that as the job title was for a new post no one had any idea as to how it would develop. I still fail to describe the role in a nutshell.

Let’s just say that variety is the spice of life. I have worked on schemes of metadata; setting up of collections (specification); design of our user interface and its usability; dealt regularly with IPR, copyright and system issues; undertook digitisation training and maintained financial and auditable databases/records. With both the academic and commercial sides of my role, I have had involvement with establishing workflows; building procedures; project documentation; UCEEL’s communication framework; dealing with digitisation requests; user education; creation of publicity and liaison with academics / external contacts / IPR holders. The direction of a typical day is set by emails, meetings or deadlines.