RLUK, Mimas, and the University of Leeds are pleased to announce that JISC has funded the Copac Collections Management project, an initiative that will work to specifically build on the RLUK-RIN Collections Management Project, be undertaken by the White Rose Consortium (WRC), and will also interface significantly with the existing work of the UKRR.

The project will provide a live beta version of a web based collection management support service, using Copac data, and will incorporate a variety of tools to support library staff in collection development.  We are working together to support collections managers in using a variety of means to identify in which locations a particular item or batches of items exist. Data visualisation will be developed to provide differing views of the results for example, map views to assess quickly where items are held across the country, and graphs to indicate how many items searched for exist within specific libraries.  The first part of the project, now underway, is to develop this technical interface to view the data in these contexts.  The latter phase, beginning in April and concluding in July, will involve focused and iterative testing of the interface by the members of the WRC – the findings of this testing will be used to inform revisions to the interface, with a long-term view that with appropriate funding and support, the tools will be developed into a live service trialled by RLUK members and then made available to the broader community.

Our overarching aim of the project is to develop and test a service that will enable improved decision making regarding the retention, disposal, and redistribution of materials.  The service will provide evidence of the wider availability of individual materials and/or collections when discussing the disposal of materials with academic staff within an institution. This project will help us, JISC, and the WRC achieve the longer term aim of developing the technical framework required to support a more proactive and cohesive approach to collection management at a national level.  In addition, by building the service on top of Copac data, the project contributes significantly to furthering the work of the JISC & RLUK Resource Discovery Taskforce, which aims to explore how data can be opened up and made to ‘work harder.’

Library and end-user benefits

Library staff will benefit from having clearer information about the availability of specific texts and/or collections within a field. This will provide evidence for more informed retention or disposal of material and potentially offer support for sharing of material that may be of value in other institutions’ collections. The data visualisation in particular will make it easier to discuss with academic staff the strengths of particular collections, the overlap with the holdings of other libraries, and the justification for disposal of specific materials. Collection management decisions will be made on a more informed basis and this, together with the potential for working collaboratively and sharing materials between institutions, will ensure end-users continue to have access to materials somewhere within the research institutions in the UK.  It will also provide reassurance to end-users that library staff are taking into consideration their potential access needs during stock disposal.

This project allows us to open up a new dimension to the existing support Copac offers to library staff. We can utilise the existing data in new ways, investigating methods of collection visualisation to support a wider range of library activity. This project begins to explore ways of building on Copac as a large aggregated data set and supports the JISC & RLUK RDTF vision for collaborative service development.

Queries about the project can be addressed to:

Dr Mike Mertens
Deputy Director and Data Services Manager
Tel: +44 (0)121 415 8107
Email: mike.mertens@rluk.ac.uk


Top image courtesy of Queen Mary, University of London Library