CCM Beta Trial Introductory Events

We recently held events in Manchester and London for members of RLUK to introduce the CCM tools Beta interface and provide some context to those trialling the interface. These included real world case studies, as well as an opportunity for hands on experimentation.

The presentations generated wide ranging discussion about the national context for the CCM tools as well as potential applications. Ideas were flowing as delegates started working with the tools and thinking about how they might be applied within their own local context, with excitement about the opportunities beyond the obvious ones relating to making space on the shelves. This was also an opportunity for us to get initial feedback as delegates began to work with the facilities.

The main elements of the programme are given below; there are links to the presentations as well as background material; hands-on examples are now included on the CCM forum for RLUK members involved in the Beta trial.

The limited scope of current activity means the Beta trial is restricted to RLUK members only, but we will be looking at ways of broadening access as we gather feedback towards the end of the year.

CCM tools Beta Trial: Introductory Event Programme

The National Context

London: Dr. Mike Mertens, Deputy Executive Director and Data Services Manager, RLUK.
Manchester: Michael Emly, Head of Collection Services, University of Leeds Library.

This presentation provided the broader context within which the CCM tools are being used, looking at the changing national landscape as well as the changing role of RLUK.

CCM tools ‘The Bigger Picture’ Slides

Group discussion:

How local decisions can affect the wider national context for collection management. (See Leeds Case study extract).

Case Study 1: Sheffield University

Gary Ward, Head of Capacity Management, University of Sheffield Library.

Gary discussed the way the CCM Tools were used in an actual withdrawal of stock procedure at Sheffield during 2012. The CCM Tools were used to identify last copies amongst titles considered for withdrawal and to identify copies held in eight or more other libraries besides Sheffield, which were then considered candidates for withdrawal. This supported the withdrawal of over 1100 items, freeing significant shelf space, whilst taking into consideration the continued availability of materials for researchers. The presentation covers the background to the case study, the case study itself, the findings and finally some recent developments that have occurred since the case study.

University of Sheffield case study slides

Case Study 2: York University

Ruth Elder, Collection Space Management Co-ordinator, University of York Library.

Ruth addressed the way the CCM tools have been used to support “business as usual” practice at York in the context of creating a “Collection Profile.”  This pulls together a wide range of relevant information into one accessible location in a graphic manner, which can shared with those who it is most relevant to inform their decision making – such as subject librarians, senior library managers and academic departments. The presentation discusses the work flow involved. The Collection Profiles have received a positive reception at York and are now embedded as part of the 5 year Content strategy.  They are encouraging and facilitating discussions between the library and academic departments in regard to evaluating stock selection and use, contributing to more positive collaborative relationships.

University of York case study slides

A more detailed description of the Case Study is also available “Identifying titles for potential purchase using the Copac Collection Management tool

Copac Data: an introduction

Shirley Cousins, Copac Manager, Mimas, University of Manchester.

The way the Copac deduplication is carried out has some implications for the CCM search. This is summarised on the CCM forum for RLUK members. In addition, as a union catalogue Copac is dependent on updates from our contributing libraries, which in turn affects the currency of the picture you see within CCM. Update frequency varies from weekly or monthly for most large institutions, through to historic collections which are and largely unchanging so may only provide an annual refresh. You can check the currency of the data from any institution at:

This page also shows where a library has changed their library system and we are awaiting a reload, so the catalogue has not been updated as recently as would normally be the case.


The hands-on provided an opportunity to follow some structured exercises, plus time for unstructured experimentation. A hands-on worksheet is available to CCM users on the User forum.

Action Planning

There was an opportunity to prepare an Action Plan to take away. You can download a copy of the Action Plan Template for CCM tools.


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.

Keeping the momentum going: the next phase of the Copac Collections Management Project

The Copac Collections Management (CCM) tools project is moving into a new phase, made possible by ongoing funding by Jisc and with the support of RLUK. Until the end of 2013 we will be widening participation whilst encouraging community involvement and reviewing user support requirements. During this phase the prototype CCM tools will be made available to RLUK member libraries and we will be working with participants to gain feedback on the tools themselves as well as on their training and support needs. This will feed into sustainability planning and defining the requirements for any initial CCM tools service.

The CCM tools project has now been underway for two years. With Jisc funding, the Copac team at Mimas, RLUK, Leeds University, and other members of the White Rose Consortium have worked together to design and deliver the CCM Tools, and to engage the broader community in understanding their potential. We have also been exploring strategic concerns about ensuring long-term access to print materials for the research community as a whole.

The community response has been overwhelmingly positive, so in phase 3 we are looking at the requirements for moving towards a service environment. In early summer 2013 we will be making the CCM tools available to a much wider range of Copac contributors, in the form of the RLUK member libraries. We will be exploring what user training and support is required, whilst also encouraging peer to peer support, as the expertise for applying the CCM tools lies within the library community.

The work will continue to the end of 2013 and we’ll be gathering feedback and developing our understanding of what the basic requirements for any future service would be in terms of the interface and facilities, as well as the support infrastructure needed to provide the best environment for users.

RLUK CCM phase 3 Press Release

Successful completion of Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Copac Collection Management Tools Project is now complete and this is the first of several posts reflecting on the results. 

Apart from the Final Report, the following key outputs are now available on the website:

  • Proposed Strategy to inform sustainability planning for a prospective service based on the Tools;
  • Report on Retention and Preservation, summarising the work carried out by the Project in this area and considering how the Tools might provide a framework to support a distributed National Research Collection of Monographs;
  • Synthesis of the Case Studies, bringing together the results from 10 separate case studies which looked in detail at how the Tools might support  stock withdrawal, collection profiling and decision-making in conservation and digitisation;
  • Detailed reports on 6 of the case studies, along with workflow documentation intended to help libraries that are new to using the Tools.

Speaking personally, my overriding impression from the Project is of the enthusiasm within the community for what the Copac Tools might offer.  At our December workshop in Leeds, we had 35 participants from 24 different libraries.  For many, this was their first opportunity to find out about the Tools, but there seemed to be no dissenting voices.  They were able to identify with the scenarios presented by the Project partners and could see the relevance of the Tools to day-to-day operations within their own library.  They understood how this could help with space management, improve decision-making and provide a powerful tool for advocacy work with their user community. They also shared similar strategic concerns about ensuring long-term access to print materials for the research community as a whole, and were strongly supportive of using the Tools to avoid the loss of “last copies” nationally.

This last point was picked up in the March workshop on retention and preservation – deliberately planned as a smaller and more focussed meeting with a balanced mix of individuals with relevant expertise.  And again, a powerful consensus emerged.  The UK is fortunate in having very rich print collections, but if they are to continue to remain accessible for use by future generations of researchers, then greater coordination is required:  there was general agreement that we need to be working towards a distributed National Research Collection of Monographs.  The Copac Tools provide an appropriate mechanism for libraries to share information about their holdings and indicate which titles or collections they are committed to retaining for the long term.   Additional information about preservation status, access restrictions or digital surrogates might also be included, where feasible.   The meeting participants also emphasised the importance of libraries feeling confident in the reliability of this data based on a common understanding of the phrase “long term retention”.  So the backing of RLUK was seen as a key ingredient in building community agreement and participation. 

Through these meetings, a consensus has emerged, based on a shared vision for the future management of our print collections.  There is an eagerness to build a more sustainable future.  The challenge now is to translate that into concrete actions and make it a reality.

So, on behalf of the Project Team, a big thank you to all who have been involved, in any way at all, in making it such a success.

Final Report on Retention and Preservation

The Final Report on Retention and Preservation (PDF) is now available. This brings together the CCM work on retention and preservation and sets out a series of recommendations which, taken together, would provide the framework required for a distributed National Research Collection of Monographs.

The report includes a proposal for a metadata framework based on MARC tag 583 and the associated vocabulary Preservation and Digitization Actions. The Proposed Metadata Framework (PDF) is also available separately.

Initial recommendations on metadata formats

Following the project workshop on retention and preservation in March, a preliminary report on the subject was compiled which discusses the main issues, identifies those questions requiring further investigation and suggests a strategic way forward which would help maintain the integrity of the National Research Collection.  

Michael Emly has now built on that initial discussion of the issues around metadata and developed a firm proposal based on the use of MARC tag 583 and the associated vocabulary Preservation and Digitization Actions.  Comments on the framework proposed would be very welcome – please email Michael directly at before the end of June.

What is interesting is that in parallel to the work of the Copac Tools Project, OCLC has been exploring similar issues in its Print Archives Disclosure Pilot.  This looks at how retention commitments for print journals – and the associated question of access to this material –  can be supported and shared through OCLC services (rather like our own UKRR).  The final report of the OCLC project has just been published and discusses the metadata infrastructure in considerable detail.

Workshop on Retention and Preservation

The Workshop on Retention and Preservation on March 12th was a great success, bringing together 20 people from around the country to consider that subject in depth. The presentations and other related materials are now available on the Project website to support further discussion and a report with recommendations will be produced shortly.

At the start of the day, Michael Emly’s presentation set the issue of preservation and retention within the broader context of the Project and its objectives. He highlighted the hope of moving towards a more strategic approach to decision-making through the Copac Tools. If a framework can be provided which allows libraries to signal what material they intend to retain long-term, whether with respect to individual items or to whole collections, then other institutions will be able to use this data to inform their own decisions, and so best use can be made of scarce resources by avoiding unnecessary duplication of effort. Michael set out the practical agenda for the day’s discussions, but also spoke of the larger agenda which is to develop an agreed national strategy and framework which safeguards long-term access to materials for the scholarly community.

Mike Mertens picked up on this strategic perspective by looking at some similar efforts in the past, particularly through the RSLP and RIN initiatives. The need is broadly understood, the strategic requirements clear, and Mike challenged those present to make sure that the opportunity presented by the development of the Copac Tools translates into an effective national framework for preserving the National Research Collection. The funding environment is less favourable than in the previous decade, so this can only come about by coordinated action “from the bottom up”.

The workshop then took a very practical bent, looking at the information needed to sustain such a system, how it might be recorded locally and how it could be shared within the context of the Copac Tools. The desirability of including data not only about retention and conservation but also about digitisation and the availability of commercially available electronic copies came out very strongly. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there was unanimity regarding the importance of a mechanism for identifying an institution’s intention to retain an item for the long term. But the willingness of those present to accept Mike’s challenge and engage with the wider strategic agenda also came across very strongly.

In preparation for the workshop delegates were provided with two documents:

A summary of the plenary session is available: CCM Retention & Preservation Workshop: Plenary notes

The Workshop presentations are also available, including feedback from the group discussions.

CCM Web interface

The CCM Web interface has been released to CCM partner and associate libraries; they are trialling the collection management tools in their current form, as well as considering their potential value in supporting a range of collection management tasks. Feedback from the initial testing will be incorporated into ongoing development to support further assessment through case studies, as well as use case development.

The CCM Web Interface has been developed through an iterative process in a collaboration between Copac and the project partner libraries. In the first CCM project a very basic user interface was created, as a proof of concept, to let the partners try out ideas and get a sense of what might be possible. This fed into use case development, which in turn helped guide interface development requirements. This UI was concerned with function rather than form and served its purpose, but needed the background knowledge of the participants to get the best out of it.

We have now turned the initial UI into something that is significantly more user friendly to support wider testing of the facilities. This new user interface is an adaptation of the Copac Beta test UI that was released for public testing in November 2011. By repurposing the Copac Beta UI the CCM project is benefitting from all the background user testing and development that has gone into the Copac UI, as well as giving the Copac development effort a wider impact.

The new CCM UI was released on Jan 27th for testing by project partners and there was a second release on 28th Feb ready for user testing by the new Associate libraries that have joined this phase of the project. As well as focussing on improved user friendliness we have also added some facilities; so at the moment the UI offers:

• live and batch search facilities, including library and region limit option;
• options to deduplicate result sets by ISBN or a range of other fields;
• Copac style record displays;
• pseudo-MARC export including collection information;
• result visualisation in various forms, including holdings map;
• data export for local use in collection analysis;

Whilst the current testing is underway we are reviewing and prioritising potential developments that have been identified by the partner libraries. Development will continue behind the scenes but we will keep the UI stable during the initial testing by the Associate libraries. Once this first stage of testing is complete we will bring on board development requests arising from their work for a new release of the UI.

3 associate libraries join the Project team

We are very pleased to welcome to the Project the libraries of the V&A, UCL and the University of Warwick as associate libraries who will contribute to the development and testing of the Copac collection management tools.

The participation of the associate libraries will allow for the exploration of a wider range of scenarios, and from a number of different perspectives.  Planning is already in hand for work on:

  • How well the tools can support work with foreign publications, especially those in non-Roman scripts
  • Identification of the time savings that can be achieved in stock editing through use of the tools
  • Developing our understanding of similarities and differentiating characteristics across similar collections in different libraries
  • Exploring what might constitute a “match” against Copac in different contexts.

Testing of a beta version of the tools with a revised interface and added functionality is already under way, and the next 3 months will see an intensive period of further development.

And coming soon – information about forthcoming discussions around using Copac to share information about retention and preservation in order to assist prioritisation and decision-making across the community.

Our first blog post and feedback from December’s workshop

We’re really pleased to launch our blog with this first official post for the Copac Collections Management project. Though we’ve been working steadily in this area for nearly a year now, we’ve done so, I’ll admit, slightly under the radar.  As we commence our second phase of development activity, it’s clear to us that we need to start more openly sharing our progress and lessons learned. Collections management, the freeing up of library space and at the same time the preservation of unique or rare items of importance to UK researchers are key strategic issues facing many libraries today; so we know our work is of real interest to the broader community.

If you would like to learn more about this project, we invite you to explore this site, where you can find more detailed information about our proposed approach, read our reports on work so far, and the use cases we’re testing the tools against. Between now and July 2012, this blog will be updated at least monthly with information on our progress so far. We’ll also be inviting you to give us feedback on approaches we’re taking.

The December Workshop

Though our blog is new, we have been actively engaging the community through other means.  Before the Christmas break, we invited contributors to Copac to attend a workshop in Leeds. The response to our invitation was overwhelmingly positive, and on December 5th over thirty attendees joined us in Leeds. This gave us an opportunity to discuss the project with the wider community, looking at broad collection management issues and gaining input into the direction for the continued development of the support tools and related work. It also helped us to identify libraries we could recruit to help us with the next phase of our work – i.e. testing the tools within their own institutional contexts and providing feedback.

It was certainly an energising day. Our colleagues gave presentations on the project and their uses of the tool, and throughout our discussions the overall reaction from the participants was very positive, with an appreciation of the benefits that the collection management tools could offer, as well as a general discussion of problem areas.

Broadly speaking, participants could immediately see the potential of the tools; but in our group discussions some interesting themes and questions emerged:

  1. The standard of cataloguing was raised, and the question of what the national libraries are doing about long term retention.
  2. There were concerns about pre-1800 material. This may need a lot of detailed information in a record to make retention decisions. etc.
  3. It was clear that non-catalogued materials need to be addressed; i.e. do we invest time money and effort in cataloguing this material?  There was agreement that the tool could be very useful in support this
  4. The tools could inform preservation decisions e.g. damaged items.
  5. We should consider providing regional or consortia views on the data
  6. Concerns were raised over the reliability and currency of records within Copac. Also, the quality of data in an institution’s own catalogue. In general, issues of trusting the data were raised – if results indicate ‘last copy’ how do we test validity of this?
  7. It was felt that the provision of guidelines and working principals for using the tools to provide the statistics and data that will inform productive dialogue with senior managers.
  8. The role of ebooks was also raised. Will they count as a trusted copy? In addition, could the tool help inform ebook deals and negotiations?
  9. It was suggested that the tools could be used to understand a collection in the context of the wider national collections, and that it might have a role to play as an international comparator tool – which may be useful for attracting international students.
  10. By highlighting subject collection strengths we might be able to encourage new researchers.

In addition, throughout the day broader strategic questions were raised over whether there should there be a national agreement to cover the transfer of unwanted material to other institutions, and also the need for a national agreement for retention decisions e.g. minimum number of copies. The role of the Legal Deposit libraries was also discussed, and it was clear that Legal Deposit libraries are facing the same space pressures as other libraries, and so looking seriously at rationalising their own collections and revisiting the criteria for ‘permanent’ retention.

As move forward, our energies now switch to refining the user interface for the tool, and determining which libraries we would like to work with us in this next phase of testing. We look forward to letting you know our progress.