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.