CCM Beta trial: laying the groundwork

Since the CCM project restarted there has been a lot of background activity across a range of areas, addressing technical and user support issues.

Technical development

The alpha CCM tools UI developed iteratively and went through several incarnations, with variants running in parallel as they were in use by different project members. To take the alpha interface out to a wider audience we needed to move it to a new, stable, location with supporting Web pages. This work has now been completed ready for further testing.

As part of this process we undertook a review of the interface and introduced a number of changes:

  • A CCM microsite has been created;
  • The interface has been tested and changes made to improve stability and make maintenance easier;
  • We have introduced a login to control access to the interface. For ease of implementation in the beta trial the login uses the latest version of the RLUK database login mechanism, created for the new RLUK database currently under development;
  • A number of additions have been made to the facilities, some expanding on trial facilities, others in response to requests arising from testing carried out last year;
  • A review of the interface has been carried out by Mimas staff outwith the earlier stages of the project. This has resulted in a number of changes to wording and improved consistency of presentation.

The new CCM microsite has been developed from the existing Copac stylesheets. The need to introduce new web sites for related but separate purposes has highlighted the issue of site maintenance. Given limited resources site maintenance could easily become a burden which means sites become out of step, updates may be missed etc.

To minimise this problem we are establishing a set of stylesheets that allows us to maintain a Copac ‘family’ of web sites efficiently. Basic layout and functionality will be maintained across all versions of the site by changing a single sylesheet, whilst the superficial appearance of the site in terms of colours, logos etc. will be handled separately for each member of the family. This should allow us to create new web sites as required with relative ease and to maintain them effectively, avoiding duplication of effort and minimising the likelihood of the sites becoming out of step. Once this work is complete the CCM web site will be migrated across to the new stylesheets, though from a user perspective little will change.

Support and training

Something that became clear from our earlier work is that the use of the CCM tools would benefit from more support than we would normally provide for Copac. As an interface it is both less familiar and, in many ways, more complex that the Copac search interface, so we have been looking at various forms of support.

  • We have begun developing online case study exemplars. These will be made available on the web site offering users an opportunity to work through a case study to get an understanding of the workflow for a particular activity and the various tools available.
  • Context specific help pages have been created. These will support users directly, but they also provide content that can be re-used within the case studies, so we’re not duplicating effort. Tying the case studies to the help pages may also assist with familiarising users with the help that is available to them when they come to carry out their own collection management activity.
  • We are at the planning stage for an introductory user ‘training’ session. This will introduce potential users to the CCM Beta trail and provide an opportunity for people to familiarise themselves with the interface and the way the facilities can be used. We are also hoping to gain feedback on the support available and any gaps.

Community collaboration

The CCM tools are a way of supporting wider library collection management activity and decision making. Mimas can support use of the tools in terms of answering questions about the interface, but we are not best placed to look at the planning that goes in beforehand and how the data may be used afterwards. In the wider context it is the library community that has the expertise and we want to encourage users to share experience and provide support for one-another.

With this in mind, we have begun work creating an online user forum. We use WordPress for our blogs so we’re working with bbPress, which is a forum plugin for WordPress. This has been a bit of a learning curve for the programmer for whom this is all new, but it is looking promising and we will be testing it shortly.

At the start we feel it is important to ensure CCM users are getting support so we’re developing a forum engagement plan to try to encourage use of the forum and get it off the ground as the Beta trial begins. Over time we hope users will begin to work together through the forum, supporting each other. We will be logging forum activity and assessing how well this has developed as part of the overall beta trial assessment.