University of Hull Library Systems

An overview and development discussion paper Introduction 1. Computer systems are today an integral part of the infrastructure used by academic libraries to offer their range of services. Since libraries started adopting such systems to support their work there have been constants, e.g., the library catalogue, and changes, e.g., the delivery mechanisms for bibliographic databases. There have also been many advances, especially since the advent of the World Wide Web and the capability this brought to producing and providing information of many different types and formats. 2. The broad use of computer systems to support library processes and services has led to a situation where policy decisions often require a systems element to help inform the path taken. To inform the systems element at Hull this paper provides an overview of the current use of systems within the University of Hull Library, places this in the context of wider trends in the use of systems by academic libraries, examines how systems can be used to their best advantage in supporting the role the Library plays within the University, and make recommendations for putting this into practice. Landscape 3. Academic libraries have long recognised the value of using computer systems to support their work. The first online bibliographic databases emerged in the 1960s (e.g., Medline) and online catalogues were being introduced to university libraries from the 1970s. Such systems sought to support how existing print-based materials were managed. They were secondary information sources, and used to guide library staff and users to the primary source material. 4. As systems developed some primary information sources became available in electronic format as well, e.g., newspapers on CD-ROMs, offering an alternative to users. The Web provided a means for this alternative to become the mainstream, and it is arguable that many users within universities now find the majority of their information in electronic format without recourse to a print-based source at all, if this even exists; there is also a blurring between what the library offers and other sources of information. This increased use of computer systems has led to a reliance on them that has also raised expectations of what they can, or should, enable. 5. The increasing use of computer systems has occurred in parallel with a huge explosion in the amount of information available – and indeed system advances themselves, and particularly the Web, have in part been the cause of this. The increase in information has led in turn to new systems being launched to expand and build on those an academic library already uses. Many of these offer valuable functionality that promises much, and many new library services have resulted from them. But it can be uncertain which ones should be prioritised and which ones will fully enable the academic library to fulfil its role in today’s universities. Should systems determine what a library does or should the systems serve what a library wants to do? Whichever path is chosen, and pragmatically it is likely to be a mixture of the two, a first step is to examine the status of existing systems to provide a baseline from which development can take place.


Systems in use within the University of Hull Library 6. The University of Hull Library currently operates and makes use of the following systems: 7. Innovative Interfaces Millennium system The library management system is the largest system in operation within the library, as such a system is in most libraries. It is running the Millennium Silver edition currently, which is the most up-to-date pending Millennium 2005, and offers a graphical, java-based user interface to all modules. The following modules are available, with brief information on links to other systems and data:

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Cataloguing o Bibliographic records are entered manually and through downloads from the CURL database and through Dawson’s Fasttrack service (live at Scarborough, under test at Hull) Circulation, including management of user records o The user record database receives data from Corporate Systems and in turn feeds this into the SB Turnstile system. The 3M Self-Service terminals are reliant on interacting automatically with the Circulation module and cannot work if this is not available Acquisitions o Order records are created in Millennium and then have to be manually re-entered into DREAM. Plans for connection between the two systems have been scoped but not pursued as yet Serials o Bibliographic details are entered manually and through a feed from Serials Solutions which provides data specifically for electronic journals Interlibrary Loan o This is used at Scarborough. At Hull ILLs are processed through the Lancaster Interlibrary Loan system Electronic Resource Management (ERM) o This new module can also receive feeds from Serials Solutions on licence arrangements for electronic journal subscriptions. Manual entry is also possible and is being carried out. Web OPAC o The main user interface to Millennium, providing access to data from the cataloguing, serials, user and, potentially, ERM modules. Apart from the main catalogue, separate access is available to the East Yorkshire Bibliography. Links are also available to the Serials Solution e-journals list, the LibHelp service and the main Library website. The OPAC can be accessed using Z39.50 and access via this route is available through the RIDING gateway1. Services available through the web OPAC include:  New books list  Renewing books  Placing a request/reservation Reports o The results of reports can be exported to Excel for further analysis Administration

RIDING Gateway,


8. Library website Along with Millennium the library website is the route through which most users interact with library information and resources. The content of the website is generated through the Content Management System. Currently, the library website offers access to the following areas:

Information (all of these headings have sub-pages) o Customer Service o Information skills o Part Time learners o Using other libraries o Using our libraries Interactive services o Web OPAC o Electronic resources (compiled from the Electronic Information Resources database, except where indicated)  E-journals – information is supplied by Serials Solutions  E-books  Databases and reference works o LibHelp o InfoVoyager information skills/literacy materials (these are advertised as a directly linked service)

9. Port.hull The library has a growing presence on port.hull within the Libraries section. This provides a combination of links to library services and additional information that is not found on the library website and which is targeted more at an internal audience.

Information o Donations policy o Ordering new materials o Library user groups o Links to the main library website, web OPAC and Electronic Information Resources section Interactive services o Electronic Short Loan Service (this is also advertised as a directly linked service) o Book request form o User’s library record (display, no interaction is currently possible) – this mimics a user checking their record within the web OPAC, using the port.hull login details to identify a user’s barcode

10. Electronic Information Resources database (EIR) The EIR is a locally maintained database that generates library resource webpages dynamically. It is recognised as a system that requires attention and probable replacement in the future. 11. Serials Solutions This service provides an externally hosted management facility for electronic journal subscriptions. The data is then made available as feeds for loading into Millennium for cataloguing and to ERM for licence management. A web interface is made 3

available for users to search and browse the electronic journal subscriptions by title, subject area and publisher; this is available through the Library website. 12. Lancaster Interlibrary Loan system This is a well-established management system for inter-library loans. It is the main method for processing these at Hull, where a member of staff enters requests manually from user forms. 13. CD-ROM network The CD-ROM network is used to deliver a small number of individual CD-ROM databases and resources that are not available via alternative routes. Titles are nonrenewing, i.e., they provide fixed data from past years. Access to the CD-ROM network is via the EIR webpages. It is noted that the network will be decommissioned once alternative standalone access facilities become available. 14. 3M self-issue terminals These two terminals offer a rapid self-service circulation system that is available during library opening hours. The terminals act as electronic users of the Millennium Circulation module and process both the issuing and return of loans. 15. SB Turnstile entry system This system manages entry to the library via the three turnstiles, plus access to the 24hour centre and Language Institute. It uses user record information fed from Millennium, but maintains its own local copy of this for day-to-day use. 16. Sentient Discover This service provides an externally hosted management facility for resource lists. This enables course and library information to be linked, enabling users to create resource lists for courses and provide direct links from these to the relevant library resource. The system is currently being tested and is not live. 17. See Appendix 2 for a graphical representation of how Millennium links to other systems and how data flows between these. 18. The Library also provides access to local hardware and network facilities, as follows: • Clusters of open access PCs on the University network • Networked printing facilities, managed through a rechargeable card payment system • Wireless access to the University network from a suitably configured laptop


Managing information 19. All existing library systems can be linked to a need and desire to manage information that the library holds and has control over in a better and more effective way. That is partly the purpose and role of a library. A combination of systems has been put in place to help serve the existing work of the Library, e.g., the library management system, and to provide services that are available because the systems themselves enable functionality that wasn’t possible before, e.g., online renewal. 20. Systems used within a library are largely focussed around the information that the library holds, predominantly books and journals. The arrival of electronic versions of these has, on the whole, not been met by great changes in the systems available, but with adaptations to existing systems (e.g., the 856 MARC field used for URLs to resources). Systems such as Serials Solutions are now arriving to assist, and have been welcomed by academic libraries to help manage the seemingly everincreasing amount of electronic information now available. These externally hosted systems reflect a releasing of the control exerted by a library over its information, which is made possible by the electronic nature of the information concerned. 21. In addition to the information a library ‘holds’, physical and electronic, there are now also many sources of information available that the library has no control over, as they are freely available over the Web, e.g., directories, databases and the myriad of webpages containing valuable information. Here, libraries are concerned with the level of control that should be exerted over these resources, and to what extent they should be corralled alongside ‘held’ resources or left for users to use as they see fit. There is a parallel here with grey literature. Mechanisms have been established for dealing with such literature according to the needs of the library and there may be value in applying these to openly available web resources. 22. Overall, a library can be regarded as part of a channel where the professional skills available add value to the information passing down that channel from information provider to user. Both physical information (supplied by booksellers etc.) and electronic information (provided either locally or afar, subscribed or free) can be managed in this way, albeit that the exact nature of this management will inevitably vary according to the information type.

23. There are different levels at which control can be exerted when managing the information available to an academic library and through which value can be added. The following is a proposed breakdown of these levels with details of how Hull’s systems fit within them:

Data management – how electronic and physical items held by the library are organised and processed.


Millennium – the heart of data management is the library management system. It is likely that this will continue as the organisational centre for most information. Different modules help to manage different stages of the path between information provider and user. Add-on modules such as ERM are adapting the system to help manage new types of information, such as licences. o Content Management System – through management of information in the CMS, information is organised and structured for access through the Library website. o Electronic Information Resources database – used to organise and manage the collection of databases and reference works that the library both subscribes to and for managing those free resources included by the library o CD-ROM network – a means for organising and managing individual resources in CD-ROM format o Serials Solutions – as mentioned above, an externally hosted system that allows electronic journal information to be organised o Sentient Discover – a system, also externally hosted, that manages resource list information as well as linking this to course information. User management – how users of the library are managed in respect of their use of the library o Millennium – the library management system is also at the heart of managing user records for the library, fed by Corporate Systems from staff and student databases. o SB Turnstile entry system – using the information provided to it, this system manages which users can enter the library or not. Circulation management – managing the movement of physical items that are held by the library locally or elsewhere o Millennium – the Circulation module, of course, is at the centre of circulation management, linking up item and user records for loans, renewals, and reservations etc. The ILL module is also used to manage the circulation of items borrowed from other libraries. o 3M self-issue terminals – making basic but limited circulation functionality available automatically through a link to Millennium o Lancaster Interlibrary loan system – used to manage the circulation of items borrowed from other libraries. o The web OPAC and port.hull both offer a user view onto the circulation system, and some interaction is available through the OPAC. Access management – the management and organisation of how information is made available and presented to users o Millennium – the web OPAC is a core point of access to all physical items and an increasing number of electronic items held by the library. The importance of a web OPAC is evidenced by the number of dedicated access points made available within the Library as is the case in almost every academic library. o Library website – the website is used to present information that is managed behind the scenes, e.g., the Electronic Information Resources database and the library information webpages o port.hull – the portal is, like the library website, a place to surface information that is managed elsewhere behind the scenes, in this case with an internal audience focus. o CD-ROM network – the resources available via this route are surfaced o 6

o o

through the library website, though require dedicated client software for use. The standalone option will present these resources through dedicated client software on a single PC, separate from the website. Serials Solutions – this data management tool also provides a web access route to the electronic journal information. Sentient Discover – users can use this as a means of linking to library information in relation to their courses

24. There is clearly overlap in the roles performed by different systems. Millennium is involved in all four areas, albeit through different modules. There is also a close relationship between the systems used for data management and those used for access management. This may be obvious – data is managed behind the scenes partly to facilitate access to it – but it is arguable that trying to do both can confuse what the system is actually doing. Millennium separates the two by using different, dedicated, modules: Cataloguing/Serials and the web OPAC; the Content Management System/Electronic Information Resources database and the Library website/port.hull also carry out separate data and access management roles, respectively. Serials Solutions and Sentient Discover, on the other hand, provide both, albeit that they may have separate structures behind the scenes that are not immediately apparent. In implementing such systems, particularly where they are externally hosted, the balance between how good they are at data management and access management will determine how valuable they are to Library staff and users as a whole. 25. If one type of management is emphasised more than another, then the other may suffer. Serials Solutions offers a very valuable data management role, assisting with the plethora of electronic journal subscriptions, both individual and batch, and they have clearly tapped into an area where academic libraries have struggled to keep up. They provide access management through the website they provide for each institution, allowing users a structured way of accessing the different titles. But note that this user access is structured differently to existing access methods provided for users within the Library, particularly as access to the same materials is also available through the web OPAC here at Hull without using the Serials Solutions access point. There is an access management fragmentation pay-off for the benefits of better data management. The ability to brand the Serials Solution website helps, but this is limited. 26. Sentient Discover tends to emphasise access management more, providing mechanisms for linking different types of data together to provide enhanced access to this. The service has found favour by offering functionality that academic libraries would like to provide, but haven’t been able to very effectively or without a lot of local effort. Implementation here at Hull has suggested that loading and managing the data so that it can be linked has knock-on effects on data management elsewhere, or is functionality Sentient have yet to implement themselves. In this case the added value access service has had an extra data management pay-off. 27. In both cases the value the service brings may be well worth the pay-offs. Such an assessment can help decide which systems to adopt and which not. Another balance to be met is the perceived value to library staff and library users – who is this service really for and what are the pay-offs to the other side?


The user view – and how this affects management 28. Users at the University of Hull currently have the following interaction points with library systems and information:
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• • • •

Millennium web OPAC – for many this is the library, and the first place they visit to find information. Library website – the other major source of information for users, both for information about the way the library works and for access to resources. It is through the Library website that systems such as the Electronic Information Resources database and Serials Solutions are accessed; there is no separation to the user. Whether Sentient Discover is managed in this way or as a separate entity is to be determined. The Library does deliver two separately advertised websites: the Electronic Short Loan service and InfoVoyager port.hull – complementing the Library website, this provides access to information appropriate for an internal audience CD-ROM standalone facility – when available this will be a single point of access within the library 3M self-issue terminals – access for the users onto the Circulation module of Millennium, albeit that this is hidden behind the loan process being carried out Library network infrastructure – users make use of the PC clusters and wireless networking to access Library and other sources of informations

29. With certain obvious exceptions due to physical location, interaction with library systems does not have to take place in the library, as the majority of them are webbased and therefore accessible through any browser. It is likely that the majority of interaction is outside the library. As such, the Library is one place amongst many on the web that users go to as part of their learning, teaching or research. The presence of the Library on the web needs to take into account the expectations that users have for what websites can provide and how they are used and interacted with. Jakob Nielsen, a renowned usability expert, states that users will spend most of their time on other sites and their expectations of how a website should be used will be based around these and not the library2. The CREE project user requirements analysis revealed that a resource on the web will be used if it is easy to pick up when first visited, i.e., first impressions last. If this initial step is taken, then users will explore further to see what else is available. 30. The expectations that come from use of the web will not normally include how data within library catalogues and other resources is structured or managed. And yet access to these services often relies on users knowing this. What are keywords? Are they different from subject? Where are resources for Urban Theology? The access management of resources that a library makes available is often beyond its control, especially if they are subscribed commercial services. But where control is possible the way in which data and access management takes place will impact on how users can be drawn in and encouraged to explore further. A study in the US examining how users interacted with a library catalogue found that there was a ‘lure of links’, that is users were drawn to what they could link to3. When users make use of library systems, they are looking for something. If a library can exert control of the processes by which users are linked to what they need, they will better match what users are expecting and provide added value to the user’s experience.
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Related information trends 31. Library systems help to communicate information between the library and its users. In addressing which library systems are valuable, it is thus useful to explore further some of the trends in information that are taking place. 32. Information literacy Information literacy is a relatively new though increasingly common term, referring to the ability of individuals to interact with information effectively. The more resources become available, the more interfaces and search systems the user has to learn in order to make use of them, and information literacy, or information skills, training seeks to provide the user with the requisite skill to do this effectively4. The complexity of learning many systems would seem to fly in the face of the evidence described earlier of users wanting ease of use and quick linking. Notwithstanding this, the interest that users show once they have been drawn in offers the opportunity to provide them with greater skills for making better use of available resources. The commercial information suppliers are also not going to change their spots overnight, and, unless it is suddenly agreed that all information will be placed in one repository and accessed through one interface, a degree of information literacy will be required. CREE also found that users are far more likely to use a resource once they know about it and have had it explained to them; information literacy is thus a non-technical means in which users are linked to what they need. 33. Disintermediation The resources that a library makes available via the web can be accessed either by going through the library website or, in many cases, linked to directly through personal bookmarking. The latter trend has resulted in a growing sense of disintermediation, where the library is not seen as the provider or mediator of the information being used. This has implications on the role the library is seen as providing, and also can prevent the library from making additional services available that relate to the resource being used. In addressing this, there is potential for making library webpages the most useful start points for access to resources, so that users bookmark these instead (or as well). 34. Embedding Bookmarking is a user driven method through which library webpages are referenced – the user decides whether to or not. CREE found that this route or searching for sites via Google or another Internet search engine each time you needed it is frequently used to find websites. In either case, the webpage sits there waiting for the user to find it. But there are also a number of routes that can be used to embed links and actual services away from the main webpage, raising awareness of what is available in a proactive way: the RDN-include service allows a search of RDN resources away from the RDN site itself5; the CREE project is examining how services might be presented within a portal. Even ensuring links are included within other webpages can make users better aware. It is noted that although the main Library website at Hull is linked to from many places, the Library catalogue is referenced by just two department websites, and the Electronic Information Resources webpages linked from just one. 35. All approaches to embedding seek to re-contextualise the existing library
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services. Many library services are used in the context of the library, not in the context of the user. However, there is clear value to be gained from enabling greater use of library services in the context of the user’s learning, teaching or research. Taking the library services out of the library and into the user’s environment helps achieve this. There is no doubt that in doing so the risk of increased disintermediation increases, but it can also allow the library to raise its profile and the profile of the services it provides. 36. Information provider role For the majority of information, the library is acting as an information consumer. The library is taking information that originates from elsewhere, adding value and presenting this to users. With the advent of institutional and other types of repositories, the library is in a position to become an information provider or originator on behalf of the institution. This has implications for how the information is managed, the value that can be added, and how it is accessed. It is also a changing role for a library, but one that can enable it to apply its existing data and access management skills beyond the existing confines of current services. 37. Personal information and personalisation It is not only the Library that can act as an information provider within an institution. Many individuals, through their own websites or personal databases, are information providers as well. Clifford Lynch from CNI, in a talk given in January 20056, suggested that personal information stores, or at least the capability of individuals to manage large amounts of data wherever it is located, are likely to increase. Is there a role for the Library in assisting individuals doing this? 38. This approach is at the other end of the spectrum to the Library offering personalisation of its services, where the individual is not managing their own information but has a personal view on the library’s information. Such a trend has been identified within the recent SCONUL vision for 20107. This potentially enables aspects of access management to be passed to the user, but relies on the underlying data management to make it possible. An example of how such personalisation might take place within a portal is the use of the MyLibrary program within uPortal at Lehigh University8 (see screenshot below).

6 Section=2004Forum&Template=/ContentManagement/ContentDisplay.cfm&ContentID=84353 7


39. Authentication and authorisation The ATHENS system has now been in use since 1997 and has proved an effective and national option for HE and FE institutions in the UK. The use of a single username and password to access multiple resources was a huge boon at the time, when quite often a different username was required for each resource. However, the flexibility now required for providing access across resources cannot be met through a username and password system, and indeed users would prefer not to have to remember a username and password at all. The JISC has been exploring alternatives and has now laid down a timetable for the adoption of Shibboleth, an authorisation service that uses local and national identity services to work out what a user can or can’t access. The infrastructure is planned to be in place for wider use by April 2006, albeit that local infrastructure will also be required to make use of this. In particular, it should be noted that Shibboleth does not carry out authentication - who the user is - but relies on interacting with institutional systems for this.


Trends in existing Library systems 40. As the last 10 years since the advent of the Web have shown clearly, technology does not stand still. In the library sector this is very much the case. Where are trends moving in regard of Hull’s existing systems, and how much will these impact on how these systems are run? 41. Library management systems In the changing technical environment, library management system companies have been remarkably stable and adaptable. For academic libraries the majority of the companies active today in the UK are the same as before the Web, with only a couple of additions. Most provide a basic package of functionality focused on the management of physical library stock and have adapted and extended this to cope with electronic materials (through extra modules). To what extent this adaptation will suit the long-term is uncertain, though an endpoint is likely to be reached. It is noticeable that a small number of companies have re-launched themselves with systems that manage the information landscape for the library as a unified whole (e.g., GEAC’s VUBIS system). These have not taken off widely as yet, but it will be interesting to see how the large system vendors develop their products over time to match this, as they will probably have to. 42. In the context of Hull, Innovative Interfaces has established itself as one of the largest and most stable of system vendors (with the 4th highest number of installations worldwide in 2003)9. The system has been in use here at Hull for over 10 years and provides all the basic functionality required for the library. Beyond the basic system modules there are also a large number of additional products and areas of functionality that are available to expand the services available through the system. A close eye should be kept on these developments and they should be assessed against perceived need and benefit on a regular basis, budget permitting. The company is continuously seeking development partners for new functionality and e-SIG is exploring how we might play a part in these developments and enable Millennium to be opened up for better integration with other institutional systems. 43. Overall, there is little need to look beyond our existing system unless there are areas of basic functionality that are felt to be failing. That does not appear to be the case currently. 44. Outside of the commercial library systems, it is noticeable that a small number of open source library systems have been developed in the past few years and are generating wide interest, particularly in the States. The Koha system10 actually originates in New Zealand and has its origins in the public library sector. It has basic but limited functionality, and has scaled up to 250,000 users and 600,000 loans per annum in Ohio. A new project entitled Evergreen, again targeted at public libraries, has also recently started11. It will be interesting to monitor whether these initiatives start having an impact on universities in the future. 45. See Appendix 1 for a discussion of the balance between the use of the library catalogue/library website and alternative systems as the point of access to library
9 display=searchResults&stt=001&text=migration+down 10


information and resources. A discussion of the balance between the library website and the portal is given in paragraphs 51 and 52. 46. The library website Alongside Millennium, the library website is the main point of access for library information and services. The level and type of information presented varies across libraries, though a survey of Hull’s comparator university libraries revealed a relatively common set of attributes. In drawing users into using library services, the website is a key decision point that determines whether a user pursues an enquiry further. As such, the usability of the website is a critical factor. Discussions on the usability4lib discussion list12 suggest that there is no one clear solution to suit all users, but that there are ways in which a website can be enhanced to make it easier to use overall. The library website is also very much under the library’s control, a situation should be taken advantage of. 47. In designing a library website there is a balance to be struck between how the information a library wishes to present to users and the interactive services available are presented. It is valuable to distinguish between these, so that a user is clear about what they can do when on any one webpage. It can be disconcerting to expect one thing and for another to happen and this can potentially discourage use. For experienced users, quick links to the interactive services are likely to be preferred without having to work through associated information about them. 48. Many library websites offer themselves as a resource to be used as required. But the library website can also be used to guide people to what they are after in a more proactive fashion, for example, the Finding… approach at the University of Rochester13 (it is no coincidence that this is where the usability4web list is based). They can also be used to integrate external services and show how they can be linked into local services, e.g., the integration of Google Scholar at Georgia State University14. These services reflect the ability of the library website to help users find information without them needing to necessarily understand how the library is structured and works. Proactive use of webpages like these greatly enhances the ability of users to find the most appropriate and useful information when they require it and it would be valuable to explore how Hull can make use of this approach. 49. port.hull The number of universities installing institutional portals has grown considerably in the past couple of years, particularly in the UK, and uPortal has been a popular choice for these installations. In almost all of these the library has a presence. To take two examples, Cornell University provides access to a variety of search resources, including the library catalogue, an internal Cornell website search and local dictionaries. The University of Nottingham has an extensive Information Gateway that provides access to their library catalogue, library advice, databases, reading lists and exam papers. In both cases, the emphasis is very much on interactive services that return information as a result of a search. 50. The current version of these live uPortal installations means that these interactive services return results outside the portal; that is the portal page acts as a linking tool to library services that are available elsewhere. The CREE project has
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developed portlets that allow the user to remain within the portal for at least the initial stages of a search, before being passed to the service outside the portal. This approach is being tested with users during the project. The trend of providing interaction, however, is one that is likely to develop further as portals extend the range of services available through them. 51. Another means of providing information through a portal is using RSS. As port.hull develops, the scope for delivering library news, training timetables, database/stock updates etc via this means will increase and is likely to be a key means of ‘pushing’ library information and services to users. RSS does not require portals for presentation, though, as there are many RSS readers commonly available already. An assessment of the current awareness and availability of these will inform the value RSS feeds may have both now and in the future. Delivering content via RSS does not mean duplicating the content; content held in the web content management system can be used in multiple ways, enabling many dissemination routes from one source.

52. The question of whether the portal or the library website should be considered the first point of contact with the library is a debate that has come up at Hull and elsewhere. As the examples described above and experience within the CREE project show the portal cannot currently reproduce the functionality of the interactive services it seeks to surface. There is always a point at which the user needs to be passed to the service or resource itself. The portal is a route through which more users can be made aware of library services and where these can be associated with other institutional systems and processes. It will not negate the need for other access points to these services. The most important aspect is the decision at which the user is passed out of the portal and that this should be clear and understandable. 53. This is not to say that everything needs to be presented in multiple ways (although, as mentioned above, the web content management system can enable this from the same content if required). The existing use of the portal focuses on presenting information that is only relevant to an internal audience. Which services and what information are presented through the portal requires an ongoing analysis of what internal users will find most useful and which services it is beneficial to surface alongside other institutional systems.

54. Electronic Information Resources database The EIR database has been the locally developed mechanism for managing and presenting the range of databases, reference works, electronic books, websites and, until Serials Solutions was implemented, the electronic journals that the Library offered. These are offered as a series of browsable webpages into which the Serials Solutions service has been integrated. 55. It has been recognised that the EIR technical solution is not viable in the longterm and alternative options are being sought. Options include:

The Electronic Resource Management module within Millennium offers the ability to record electronic resources and provide access to these via the web OPAC (albeit through a separate search to the main catalogue). A link is provided for the user to follow to each resource. The use of library portal software that provides a separate and searchable 14

listing of all electronic resources. The library catalogue can be included as one of these resources in most cases. Many such systems also allow the cross-searching of resources directly. 56. Both options provide searchable access to these resources. Many of the electronic materials are also recorded in Millennium, though this is not comprehensive. 57. There has been a large increase in the implementation of library portal software in the past two years amongst academic libraries. Many are adopting the additional module that goes with their library management system, for obvious integration purposes. A 2004 JISC study on library portals15 concluded that the main advantage seen by libraries was the data management benefits, allowing the ever-increasing range of electronic materials to be better managed and organised. This has access management benefits, as the increased organisation increased awareness of what was available, and subsequently increased use. The cross-searching, or federated or metasearching, functionality that was also available was not considered to be as much of a benefit. Evidence from CREE suggests that cross-searching is considered valuable by users, but only in certain circumstances; one concern was that crosssearching removed an element of control from the search. The full CREE user survey and focus group reports will be available at Easter. 58. The primary technology to facilitate cross-searching is Z39.50. Far fewer databases than might be imagined are compliant with this standard and crosssearching efforts have been limited as a result. There is much talk of metasearching currently, making use of many different standards and then managing the results before presentation to the user. This shows much promise and efforts will certainly increase in this area. It is not, however, very mature as yet, and careful consideration needs to be given to how such search facilities are presented to users to avoid confusion.

59. One group of electronic materials that is only available through the EIR are the many free web resources that have been included. There is much added value in a library highlighting those resources it feels are of value to its users. In collecting these, it is important that there is a clear route for making users aware of them. The browsable lists are one, though a searchable interface would offer an alternative and one that many are used to using through standard Internet search engines. Such resources can be included within a library portal or can be stored and accessed within specialist software for such resources, e.g., Internet Scout or iVia, both of which are free to use. The nature of the metadata it is useful to associate with such resources does not make them a viable option for inclusion in the library catalogue. 60. As mentioned earlier, there is also scope for applying the skills gained from managing grey literature to these websites.

61. Interlibrary loans The arrival of electronic journals posed a threat to ILL services, as suddenly so much more was available for users to access directly. But although there was an initial dip in requests, ILL appears still to be a valued service and used extensively within


academic libraries. Budgetary considerations and collection development strategies mean many libraries are having to cut stock, particularly journals, and this may well lead to increased requests. 62. Although ILL as a service has been an integral part of most libraries for many years, library management systems have tended to struggle in implementing this effectively. This is in part due to the US origins of most systems, where the local interlibrary agreements within states and consortia have been too varied in their nature to effectively reproduce within the systems. UK adaptations to enable the use of the British Library have had to be designed, or existing lightweight modules twisted to suit local needs. Neither has been ideal. 63. When a user makes a request there is an understanding that there will be a certain time before the request is delivered, due to the nature of the ILL process. When a library processed ILLs because it didn’t have the stock this was acceptable. The British Library and regional arrangements developed systems (e.g., Ariel/delivery via fax etc) that offered speedier delivery and a user chose to pay extra if this was required. If ILLs result from stock having to be cancelled, then this delay will not be accepted as much. The British Library can now deliver items within two hours. The availability of such services is likely to increase and systems to support them and make the best use of them will be required. 64. From a user’s perspective, the ability to submit ILL requests easily and seamlessly will also assist the process and speed up delivery. This suggests online requests and the ability to link this into a user’s searching, especially where an online version is not directly available, so that a user does not reach a dead end in where they can go next. 65. Serials Solutions/e-journal management The academic library community has welcomed e-journal management tools such as Serials Solutions, TDNet and EBSCOHost. The raft of new e-journal packages and the changes within these over time has meant the data management requirements had become increasingly difficult locally, and outsourcing this has been the solution adopted by many. Two factors potentially affect where systems such as these develop:

How much will the systems lock the user in to only being able to manage certain types of data through the outsourced service? The use of ERM should alleviate this, as the data will be held locally, but at the cost of duplication. How much will the increased usage of electronic materials lead to the outsourcing of data management processes for other resources? This has potential knock-on effects on the level of control a library has over its own holdings.

The latter direction is likely, but needs to be balanced against the flexibility required to deliver effective services.

66. Sentient Discover/resource list management Sentient Discover has also found a niche that academic libraries have leapt on, the ability to link library materials to course information. A number of library management systems already provide limited functionality in this area, but none are


able to match Sentient’s service currently (with the possible exception of Talis). Experience at Hull and elsewhere has shown that there are a number of unresolved issues in managing the data required to effect such links, but there is clearly a keen desire to provide this functionality. The standard for storing resource list material is still relatively immature and its take-up uncertain. The risk, therefore, of vendor lock-in needs to be assessed as part of using Sentient. The ability to link between systems is clearly a driver here, though, bringing library materials and the teaching process closer together.


Library systems and technologies not in use at Hull and their trends 67. OpenURL The NISO OpenURL 1.0 standard enables dynamic linking between resources according to the context of a search. In delivering any information services to a user an important factor to bear in mind is ‘what can the user do next?’. If a user hits a dead-end then this can simply lead to frustration with the services being made available. Providing options to follow on logically from what they have been doing allows the user to determine when to stop, not the system. 68. OpenURL is one way in which such linking to subsequent information and services can take place, and a very powerful one too. The linking is encapsulated within URLs using a standard format: URLs that can be quoted independently within other systems such as portals, VLEs and standard webpages. Most major library management systems vendors, including Innovative, now offer an OpenURL resolver, which takes the OpenURL and interprets which resources to dynamically link to. Content providers such as EBSCO and OVID and data management providers such as Serials Solutions are also marketing such a system. 69. Resolver systems are not complicated – the added value comes from the knowledgebase that comes with the resolver. This maintains a record of all available resources that can be linked to and the resolver uses this to present the user with a range of options. The ERM module within Millennium carries out this role, and Innovative have indicated their intention to use this common database for the two services. 70. In summary, OpenURL allows contextual and dynamic linking between resources to take place, leading users onto sources of information they may not know about and speeding up the process of finding what they want and need. 71. Metasearch (otherwise known as cross-searching or federated Search) As mentioned earlier, systems to facilitate cross-searching are increasing in their popularity albeit that the primary motive for obtaining such a system may be one of data management rather than access management. The desire to provide the ability to cross-search different resources is a strong one, at least within the library sector, though, even if it is still uncertain quite how much value users find in this. The NISO Metasearch initiative16 requires tracking to ensure we are aware of the latest thinking. CREE is making use of the GetRef metasearch tool and will also be investigating the issues surrounding cross-searching. The level of effort being put into this area suggests that a solution of sorts will be found, though when is the big question. 72. Repositories As the amount of electronic material available increases, due both to external resources bought in and locally produced materials, there is a need for institutions to effectively manage this. Many institutions are looking to repositories as a solution here. There is a clear role for libraries to play a part in this, applying the data and access management skill sets already in existence. A parallel can be drawn with the library catalogue, which is also a repository of information. Whereas the library catalogue only holds metadata about resources and holdings, though, repositories can also hold the full contents as well, e.g., documents, pictures, videos etc, or


combinations of these. 73. Two of the most common uses of a repository are for learning objects and for research outputs, with the latter also linked to the open access publishing movement. e-SIG is investigating both with a view to recommending systems for the University to adopt. In every eventuality, though, system implementation will need to occur alongside major advocacy efforts to explain to users the role and benefits the repositories will bring. 74. RFID – Radio Frequency Identification This is a mechansim that can be used for both the security of items and their tracking through circulation and movement around a library. Instead of requiring a laser to scan the barcodes, RFID tags use radio waves and can be picked up far more easily. It has been suggested that issuing a book simply requires a user to walk through a designated area where the reader picks up on the user and item barcodes and processes the loan. Usage of this technology has generated a lot of interest but not a great deal of usage as yet, largely due to the high cost of the tags and the need to re-tag every item (as well as user cards). Whether the perceived throughput advantages outweigh this remain to be seen. 75. XML XML is used already within the University for various means, not least in the portal (RSS is an XML format) and web content management system. However, its use can unlock the availability of a great deal of data and content that is not easily available; its increased usage would also provide a greater level of flexibility in how services are delivered. Innovative have developed a couple of XML modules to assist with processing such data, and repository systems are making heavy use of it. A greater awareness and identification of the possibilities of XML will be of value in considering future data management solutions. 76. In particular, the use of Web Services relies on the use of XML. As Web Services become more common as the method by which systems communicate and pass data, the use of XML will increase. Although this usage will be largely hidden from users and staff making use of these systems, awareness of how what is contained within the XML will lead to a greater understanding of what the Web Services are achieving. 77. CRM (Customer Response Management)/Virtual Enquiry Desk In order to better manage the enquiries received by a library there has been some interest in the customer response management systems that businesses and larger organisations often have in use. This has been paralleled with the rise in usage of virtual enquiry or helpdesk software that allows users to contact a librarian for help via email and/or instant messaging. It is noted that the Library is testing the SupportWorks software used by the Computer Centre to assist with CRM. The level of interest in virtual enquiry services is high, particularly in the States, although there is also a fair degree of scepticism about their effectiveness or value for money. There is certainly scope for such a service, albeit that it would have to be on the back of concerted user analysis and feedback. 78. ASP (Application Service Provider) solutions Application Service Provider solutions are not technology, but a method for providing technical solutions. They involve the full hosting of a service by an external provider, but delivered through the library. Serials Solutions and Sentient Discover


are kinds of this service. These were designed to be to be provided away from the library in the first place, though. A more recent trend has been the provision of ASP solutions for systems that have been usually hosted locally. The University of Bath, for example, is using the SFX OpenURL resolver service from Ex Libris; this is being hosted and maintained by Ex Libris on a server in the US.


Integration with other institutional systems 79. It is not possible to consider library systems in isolation from other institutional systems. That is not to say that users do not see them in isolation, as their development within universities has been largely isolated. The Web has changed this to the extent that many institutional systems are now accessible via the institution’s website and thereby are connected at a surface level. The portal at Hull takes this further by bringing systems and information together in an organised space. Taking a lead from the management of information, below are two levels at which system integration can take place; each need to be considered when developing systems. 80. Integration of data – the ability for data to be transferred between systems as required Within the Library there is already limited integration of data, both where data is exchanged between different Library systems and where data is fed into Library systems from external systems, predominantly Corporate Systems. See Appendix 2 for a diagram describing this. It is certainly the case, though, that integration of data between library and corporate systems could go further and be more automated. An analysis of where it would be desirable to integrate data more extensively or better will be beneficial in planning further integration. 81. Integration of access – the ability of users to move between and use systems in a coherent way as their needs dictate. The portal provides some means of doing this, and this will develop as portal standards allow greater surfacing of interactive services. The CREE project found that having multiple windows open onto different services was a common way of managing personal access to a range of different systems. There was a sense of control here and a suspicion that greater integration might mean this control was lost. This user perception will be a key factor in enabling and developing further integration. 82. One aspect of integrating access is to understand how users make use of the information they are accessing. Evaluation studies for JISC by CERLIM at Manchester Metropolitan University17 have demonstrated that the ‘use’ of information is largely unknown, and systems do not necessarily support what users want to do with the information they find. Understanding this better will allow greater integration of access and data to match what users wish to do. At the same time, systems require the flexibility to enable them to be integrated as required when a new ‘use’ arises. 83. A key element of library integration is integration with external services as well as internal. The CREE project is demonstrating how to integrate external database access with the portal, and lessons taken from this work will be used to plan the delivery of such services locally.



Recommendations 84. The following recommendations are based on the overview of library systems and consideration of them in this paper. They are generic in nature and are intended to inform and underpin analysis and development of systems. Specific recommendations are made where applicable. 85. Adding value to the information Computers work on the principle that information goes in and then comes out again, often having been processed. This processing adds value to the information. The information that a library manages and provides access to can be regarded as flowing in the same way; information comes into the library, is processed, adding value to it, and then made available to users. In planning library systems to support this workflow, it is valuable to think of what value these systems are adding to the information. How are they enhancing data management to support the running of the library? How are they enhancing access management and making the information available to users in a way that they can make best use of it? How is the information coming in and how is it being passed out of the system? 86. It is recommended that the Library assess how it best adds value to the information passing through it. This will help inform the systems required and ensure they are suitable for the purpose of delivering appropriate services to users. 87. Linking mechanisms In considering the workflow described above, different types or sources of information can and need to be managed separately. This separation can be artificial, though, and result in a skewed view of the information available to a user. Where it is possible to link between different types or sources of information there is potential value to be added; the use of a tool like Sentient Discover highlights this. As such, it will be useful to examine where links can be made and seek opportunities to make those links in both technical and non-technical ways. 88. It is recommended that the Library assess where links might be made between sources of information (which may originate in the Library or elsewhere). This will inform the investigation of systems to achieve this linking, for example making use of RSS. It is specifically recommended that the Library investigate the use of OpenURL resolvers closely with a view to implementing such a service. It is also specifically recommended that systems to support inter-library loans are reviewed to fully enable them to actively link users to information as required. 89. Usability The bubble highlighted that however wonderful a service you may have behind the scenes, if your user interface, your website, is not easy to use then it will not be used. Academic libraries do not have the website dependency for success, but they are being seen more and more through their website and web OPAC. And if the library is to deliver its services and information effectively then the easier these interfaces are to use the better. Jakob Nielsen recently declared that most usability problems today are the same as those 20 years ago; we are not learning and yet the steps to take are not hard to learn. The usability4lib discussion list has highlighted the many issues faced in addressing usability, but also the many approaches and solutions taken by libraries, and there is a wealth of knowledge that can be made use of. 90. It is recommended that the Library carry out usability testing on the services it


presents to users via a Web interface to an appropriate degree and depth. It is further recommended that the results of this testing be proactively used in the development of systems and subsequent Web-delivered services. It is also further recommended that the development of library systems should investigate, and where relevant adopt, a use cases approach to ensure that a system achieves what it sets out to. 91. Data and access integration The integration of data and access builds on what it is possible to do through linking mechanisms, though seeking to achieve this at a deeper level architecturally. A service-oriented architecture is a way to provide a range of flexible system services that can be combined or called as required. This allows flexible integration across institutional systems. Although a long-term goal, it can be informed by a consideration of the value there would be in combining and integrating different systems and processes. This assessment does not need to be limited to internal systems, and can be applied to integration of external systems and services as well (as in the CREE project). 92. It is recommended that the Library assess the value in integrating with other institutional systems and the processes it would be valuable to enable through this integration. It is further recommended that the Library consider possible external services and systems it would be of potential value to integrate 93. Organisation of resources Evidence from the JISC library portals study indicated the benefits of providing clear organisation of resources, as this then led to increased usage. With the decision that the EIR database should be closed down at some stage in favour of another solution, there is an excellent opportunity to assess alternatives. Organisation of resources needs to be assessed alongside how the resources will be accessed, whether singly or jointly. Commercial library portals clearly provide the organisation and single access, but have yet to fully crack the access possibilities of cross-searching. In considering organisation it is important that access is considered, but that the access possibilities do not overrule what clear organisation can provide to the user; it is counter-productive to promise too much. CREE has suggested that the provision of cross-searching requires careful planning. 94. It is recommended that the Library fully assess the possibilities for organising the resources it presents. The balance between data and access management should be included in this. It is further recommended that the ability to search across resources should be monitored for now pending future consideration as a service. The ability to search for resources within the Library, however, should be considered as a priority to complement the current browse access. 95. In addition to these recommendations, technology developments should also be monitored and reported on annually in order to assist with decisions about the type of functionality the Library wishes to offer. Chris Awre February 2005


Appendix 1 - Web OPAC vs. Library website/portal There has been active debate in the past year on library discussion lists about the balance of the role that the library website plays in contrast to the web OPAC as a point of access to library resources. These discussions stem from two concerns:

The debate of whether to integrate or separate the provision of information about physical and electronic materials, and to what extent. It is generally accepted that it is important to make users aware of both; the challenge is how. The desire to prevent user confusion when accessing all library resources.

The hybrid library projects in the late 1990s sought to bring the physical holdings of a library alongside the electronic holdings in the way they were presented to the user, seeking to provide equal presentation and awareness of both. Although all very successful it is notable that the outputs from those projects were not adopted on a large scale, even at the institutions hosting the projects, albeit that the ideas have entered wider thinking. This was partly due to budgetary constraints, but also because available systems did not permit the desired functionality to be implemented at the time. The surfacing of physical and electronic holdings alongside each other has, in many cases, fallen back on the library catalogue and web OPAC, where adaptations of MARC have allowed records to be created for electronic materials. The newer modules produced by library management system vendors have tended to place their emphasis on electronic materials rather than physical, accentuating the divide rather than easing it. There are two approaches that can be followed to bring physical and electronic materials together: 1. Develop records for all resources in one place so that they are retrieved through a search of this one place. This is most likely to be the library catalogue. 2. Develop records for all resources, but in separate places with a search facility across these. This allows a search of the library catalogue AND additional sources. The first approach requires a standard way to create records for all materials. MARC has made adaptations to allow for this, but these metadata twists do not always offer the flexibility or detail required. The second approach relies on the metadata for each record being searchable on an equal basis whilst taking into account the level and type of information recorded (this problem was and is at the heart of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative). Neither route is perfect as yet, though the second offers greater possibilities and flexibility and is being adopted through the use of library portals. The prerequisite for this approach is that all records should be searchable wherever they are, with the library catalogue being one of the resources searched. Focussing on this allows the hybrid library to become a reality in practice.


Appendix 2


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