A Jisc funded study is making recommendations to help people find university research outputs through better integration of library catalogues, research repositories and other university systems.
The Jisc-funded ‘Online catalogue and repository interoperability study’ carried out by the Centre for Digital Library Research at the University of Strathclyde suggests that although there is overlap between the types of information resources recorded in library catalogues and repositories, these overlaps are rarely apparent to the information seeker. This is because both types of system need to be searched separately as there is no interlinking.
Barriers between systems arise not only for technical reasons but also because they are often based in different departments of the university.
Practical advice for universities looking to make improvements in this area include:
- Improving co-ordination between the departments responsible for institutional information systems to reduce duplication of effort and increase the efficiency of workflows
- Making it clear to the information seeker what types of information the library catalogue and the digital repository each cover
- Describing the same types of resources consistently in the library catalogue and digital repository
- Improving the consistency and quality of subject descriptors, classification and author naming in digital repositories and using the same standards for these as the library catalogue as far as possible
One further solution might be the increasing use of ‘resource discovery platforms’ now available from some library systems suppliers. These are systems which can provide a means of searching across the local library catalogue and digital repository together, although the study considers them a partial solution to such combined searching.
This raises some bigger questions for universities such as: is the research repository now a core information system for my institution? If it is, why would we benefit from integrating it more with other university information systems?
Ben Wynne, Information Environment Programme Manager at Jisc, says: “While the study suggests ways that repositories could be better integrated with library catalogues and other university information systems in the future, doing so is not easy. This raises some bigger questions for universities such as: is the research repository now a core information system for my institution? If it is, why would we benefit from integrating it more with other university information systems? Jisc’s related study on research repositories and research management systems provides some specific pointers for universities looking to engage with these issues.”
The study included questionnaires aimed at library IT, repository and research managers as well as case studies from two large research intensive universities.
Its findings support those of the recent Jisc funded study which explored the links between repositories and research management systems.
This report comes against a wider background in which ways of ‘joining up’ access to academic information resources across library catalogues, digital repositories and publishers’ electronic services is being explored by Jisc, SCONUL and others through such initiatives such as the SCONUL shared services feasibility study for library systems
For information about the related Jisc study into the links between repositories and research management systems, visit the project website.