New plans to open up library, archive and museum collections will make it easier for researchers and students to access resources, according to a taskforce announcing its vision today.
At the moment it can be difficult for researchers to access books and information held in different places because the data is incompatible with the web services they use to search the collections. But under the new vision to be led by Jisc and Research Libraries UK individual universities, libraries, archives and museums would share information about their collections, so-called ‘metadata’.
Making this metadata available openly on the web will permit anyone to build innovative new services that use the information. This would allow researchers and students to explore the data in new ways, for example by subject or type. Libraries could also manage their own collections using the data.Professor David Baker, deputy chair of Jisc and chair of the taskforce, said: “The taskforce is putting forward a new vision to help solve an age-old issue: how do we make sure that the UK’s researchers and other users get hold of the information they need quickly and efficiently?
By opening up their resources as part of this nationwide initiative, libraries, universities and cultural organisations will be getting so much more from the information they hold, which means better value for money and potentially an improved student experience too.” The taskforce, with members from across the library and university worlds, has worked for over a year to produce the vision for UK libraries and archives. Valuable resources held in university archives, libraries and museums will be more visible and universities will be able to be more responsive to the needs of students, teachers and researchers.
Jisc will be supporting the vision by providing a technical framework to help alleviate legal and organisational issues, and providing guidance to universities, libraries and museums on how to supply and open their data.
Although the first step is to work with all UK higher education resources, the work fits in with other moves to open up data from libraries around Europe as well as from cultural organisations. Eventually researchers and students will be able to access all kinds of collections from around the world because service providers will be able to build services that use data from different countries and different sectors.
As a result valuable resources held in university archives, libraries and museums will be more visible and universities will be able to be more responsive to the needs of students, teachers and researchers.
The vision was launched at Jisc’s Survive or Thrive event on 8 June 2010.