This week’s Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL) summer conference and AGM is based around the theme of 'library transformation'.
It’s a hugely important subject for academic library professionals the world over, calling for fresh ideas and new approaches to make sure libraries and library services can address the challenges posed by issues such as managing access to digital content, greater opportunities (and demand) for collaboration, changing patterns of library use and, inevitably, continuing tightening of the purse strings.
In light of the fundamental challenges and opportunities that libraries face, and the transformations that are taking place, we’re looking again at the library support services we provide to make sure these remain valuable for our members.
And as we develop our library support services, we know we can do more to make them easier to use, to ensure they integrate more smoothly with other library systems and to enable users to get the most out of them.
Review of Jisc library support services
Their survey questions elicited responses from 80 academic library staff and these were developed in five themed workshops, attended by 100 library practitioners, to drill down into the issues. Their review also looked at the range of data stored across Jisc’s library support services and explored the competitive environment in which we operate.
In their responses, library staff and other strategic stakeholders gave a strong vote of confidence for our role in supporting the work of university libraries. Based on their feedback the report’s authors make a number of recommendations that will help us to develop our portfolio of services further in line with users’ developing needs and enable us to add value to the sector more generally. Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and SCONUL have endorsed those recommendations and we are taking a number of programmes forward for immediate action during 2016-17.
I’m going to take you through the key recommendations, and how Jisc will be responding.
Coherent and persistent data services to enable exploitation of data throughout the library ecosystem and its supply chains
We are working on ways to orchestrate the data used by each of our library support services, standardising data sources between services to eliminate unnecessary duplication of effort. Initially, we will focus on our subscription management services such as the Journal Usage Statistics Portal (JUSP) and Knowledge Base+. We will also be developing a national bibliographic knowledgebase (NBK) to underpin Jisc bibliographic data services and enable a data service that supports operations ranging from collection management to resource discovery.
A simple and readily understood Jisc service portfolio that takes account of future financial constraints
We are working to get a more detailed understanding of how librarians use our library support services so that we can begin to present them in a clearer and more consistent way through improvements to service interfaces.
A way to simplify administration workflows and processes
We have already migrated services to the cloud and we’ll be building on what we’ve learned to make more effective use of cloud infrastructure. This will enable better performance and greater flexibility and offer potential for further service development.
Our service users also said they’re concerned that consolidation in the market means systems will become less responsive to the particular needs of universities and colleges in the UK. This is something that we are very conscious of at Jisc, and we will be working with our members to ensure that we take account of market changes and are ready to fill gaps that develop at local level.
Engagement with library professionals
Throughout the transformation activity that is being informed by the latest study, we’ll be engaging with library professionals to gain their insight and feedback. We will create an advisory board and we’ll be actively seeking ongoing dialogue with individual institutions as well as with RLUK, SCONUL and UKSG.
Please take a look at the report summary, Jisc library support services: enhancing effiency and effectiveness. I’d welcome your thoughts on it.
You can find out more about our work on open access (OA) at the upcoming Jisc and Coalition for Networked Information (CNI) conference, international advances in digital scholarship, on Wednesday, 6 July 2016.