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Archive for the ‘Document Supply’ Category

FIL @ BLSDSC Friday 16th March 2012

Posted by gazjjohnson on 19 March, 2012

This is going to be a somewhat briefer than normal entry for an external event, as I was hosting the day – thus not as much chance to make notes and have useful networking; more a case of a lot of running around and keeping multiple plates spinning in the air to keep everything on track, on time and running smoothly!

The view from above of the BLDSCThis annual FIL event at the British Library’s Boston Spa Document Supply Centre (where oh so many of the inter-library loans we obtain for staff and students come from) has been running for many, many years.  While the format varies a little from year to year it always features some aspect of behind the scenes touring as well as an update from BL staff on plans and forthcoming activities.  Given the recent roll out of the new BLDSS (Document Supply Service) here at Leicester and across the country, I along with many of the other delegates were eager to hear what was next.

I was there at 8.30am, and despite not being on the delegates list (heck, I’m only national Chair of FIL and running the day – why would I be on the list!)  I still made it through security and to the conference centre.  It had been at least 10 years since I was last on site and I was interested to see how much of the leafy campus had changed, and how much was still the same.  The buildings do have a certain monolithic quality to them, as befits such a nationally recognised organisation – although there was less of a “bunker” quality to the place than I remembered.

Myself, along with fellow FIL Committee member from Newport Helen and local head of BL Customer Services Kate, spent the next hour arranging the rooms, stuffing delegate packs and arranging a selection of freebies around the room.  Most of the delegates were coming by train and then transferring to a coach the BL had kindly organised.  We were supposed to see the coach around 10am, but due to a slight delay in getting out of York (couple with I hear a scenic tour of the North Yorkshire countryside) it didn’t appear until almost the time we were scheduled to kick off.  This meant I had to do some creative programme juggling with the aid of the morning speakers to keep us on track – and importantly give the delegates as much of an opportunity to talk to each other as possible.  Experience sharing is at the heart of all FIL events, and so while the temptation to reduce breaks to make up lost time was there it’s not an option I’m ever keen to employ.

Following a warm up and introduction to the day from yours truly we moved onto the first two talks.  First up Lucy Wilkins of Bristol University gave us an overview of her experiences at the big ILDS conference in the States late last year.  Lucy had been sponsored by FIL to attend and it had clearly been a valuable and eye-opening experience for her.  She was followed by Margaret Rowley from Worcestershire Health ICT Services who talked about the parallels and differences between the NHS and other interlending sectors.  This was useful not just for the insight but also in attracting more health librarians to be in attendance than would normally be at the event. It really added depth I think to the exchange of experiences between the delegates during the day.

At this point half the group went off on a tour, while the rest listened to Andy Appleyard and Anthony Troman from the British Library.  Andy did a marvellous impromptu slot when the slides for the session went AWOL for a few minutes, but we were soon back on track.  I was very interested by a number of things the BL has coming down the line – electronic signatures, a greater focus on accessing BLDSC items on mobile devices and even lighter touch DRM than they currently use.

Behind the scenesAn excellent lunch followed, and then for those whom had been a tour a chance to hear from the BL guys.  I went on the tour which took us around part of the operation that suppliers us books and journals; and included a few updates on the BLDSS.  I would have liked to have seen the robots selecting books in the repository building itself, but sadly that wasn’t on the agenda for today. Maybe next time.

After a tea break we split the groups once more for two discussion workshops led by myself and Lucy (which ran twice so everyone could get involved).  Lucy’s looked at the tips, resources and skills that we all use everyday – with a particular focus on what areas we need to upskill new entrants to ILLs with.  This will be a useful output that will help shape some upcoming FIL training.  Mine looked at the visibility and perception of ILL services within organisations and by their patrons; although it took an interesting detour in the second session to discuss charging arrangements for ILLs.  Lucy and myself will be writing these sessions up for the FIL site in the near future (along with the slides from the event)

Finally Lucy and I shared some highlights from our workshops with all the delegates, and after some brief final discussions we packed everyone onto the coach – and I cleared up the rooms.  Being FIL Chair gets you all the best jobs.

The feedback from the event was very positive, and there were some great ideas from the delegates for topics to tackle in future events.  I’m even already thinking that maybe a FIL @BLDSC in the autumn might not be an unrealistic proposal…

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Heron User Group Meeting

Posted by taniarowlett on 15 December, 2011

I recently attended, along with my colleague Rob, the 25th Heron User Group Meeting at King’s College London.

The programme sat well with me as I am currently dividing my time between my usual Copyright Administrator activities and managing a JISC funded digitisation and OER project ‘Manufacturing Pasts’.

The presentations from Jane Secker (LSE), Donya Rowan (Derby) and June Hedges (UCL) about their recent OER projects activities and findings were therefore very interesting, and in many ways they encountered the same 3rd party © issues as I did as IPR Administrator for the Phase 1 OTTER project.  In speaking about her work on the OSTRICH project, I was pleased to hear Donya mention OTTER, and see that she found my ‘Copyright and OERs: Do’s and Don’ts’ factsheet useful when assessing/clearing material.  It was good to see Derby’s adaptation of OTTER CORRE process model too.

In was very pleasantly surprised to hear June talking her success in empowering contributors to risk assess their own materials before their release as OERs.  By asking them to list content they weren’t sure about, and discard anything that wasn’t integral to their materials, the outcome was a minimal amount of 3rd party © requiring clearance.  Whilst this was music to my ears I’m not sure whether it’s possible to roll this approach out institution wide.  As Copyright Administrator part of my role is to educate module writers about the legalities of including 3rd party material, and alternative sources of © cleared materials, but the one thing I can’t do is give them more time to stop and check their materials.

Following on from this the CLA very bravely stepped up to answer questions from the floor.  Sarah Brear confirmed that the CLA hoped to have a new licence agreed for the next academic year, and confirmed that the USA lookup tool was still in it early stages, but the intention was to roll it out to other territories once it was up and working properly.  There was also a request for the CLA to release anonymised photocopying data, which Sarah promised to look into.

During the afternoon George gave a presentation on Heron’s Packtracker software, which we started using earlier this year.  Although we knew the basics, it was very helpful to see some of the areas we don’t currently use fleshed out, so both Rob and I picked up a number of potential ways to streamline our processes, which we hope to put into practice shortly!

Posted in Copyright & Course Packs, Document Supply, Open Access, Service Delivery, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Leave a Comment »

Distance Learning Postal Loan Limits – survey results

Posted by gazjjohnson on 2 September, 2011

A few weeks ago I asked the UK educational library community some questions about levels of postal loans that they mail out to their students from stock. 35 individuals responded on behalf of their institutions and as such this is by no means a comprehensive survey, but merely indicative of the trends in postal loans as evidenced by the responding institutions.  As promised here are the results of that work – my grateful thanks to all those people whom took the time to respond to my survey!

For contrast to the national picture you can read about University of Leicester’s service here.

Do you post items from library stock?



Yes: UK based users only


Yes: Overseas based users only


Yes: All distance learners


Yes: UK and Ireland


Yes: Part-time students/anyone who has difficulty accessing the library


Yes: Any student off campus (not just DL)


Yes: BFPO addresses




Do all categories of users have the same limits?

Response Percentage
Yes: All users have the same limits


No: Limits vary by course level


No limits




No: Limited to p/t DL students only


What is the maximum number of items a distance learner may have on postal loan at any one time?

Response Percentage
2 items (shipped at any one time), unlimited**


3 items (shipped at any one time), unlimited**


5 items max


8 items max


10 items max


12 items max


13 items max


15 items max


20 items max


Unlimited (to normal borrowing quota)




**Values not included in Unlimited percentage

There is some variance hidden in the unlimited figure, due to the maximum number of loans varying by degree level for most institutions.  Many of those reporting an unlimited level of postal loans commented that few users took advantage of it; due the cost of returning items.  For some institutions this made a potential ceiling of 40 items on postal loan per user at any one time (ResPG students). The single institution that set a ceiling of 10 books for postal loan applies a £5 per item charge any items over and above this level.

How closely are any loan limits applied?



Strictly (virtually no exceptions)


Broadly (limited exceptions above normal level)


Flexibly (limits are guidelines only)


No limits


 Other comments

Additional comments were received from respondents amplifying the information they had given.  The following are selected highlights.

  • A number of respondents noted that the service was a lowly used one, and hence their loan ceiling was set generously high.  However, at least one noted that were the service to take off more that they would struggle to staff it with their current resource.
  • A number of institutions (4 in the sample) noted making a charge for the loan to cover postage costs.  Some have a flat rate, while others make a variable charge depending on where in the world it is being sent. Rates of between £1.40 to £5 per loaned item were quoted.  One institution offers a discounted rate where items are bundled, while another charges strictly on a per item basis.
  • Most, that noted it, pay for the outgoing postage and expect the student to pay the return costs.  One institution commented that departments are liable for the outgoing postage charges, and the students for the return.  Another noted that students themselves were liable for outgoing and return charges.
  • Many of the respondents noted a photocopy from stock supply service or scan to email service operated alongside their postal loan service.  Only one institution noted an active policy of eBook purchasing for distance learning students through faculty librarians encouraging academics to purchase these in preference to the print.

Key findings

From the sample it is possible to conclude:

  • The majority (91%) do post items from stock, mainly to distance learning students.
  • The modal value for postal loans is at an unlimited level, up to the maximum allowed by degree level.
  • UK based students (85%) are more likely to have a postal loan service than overseas students (37%).
  • Most institutions impose limits (80%) on the number of items postal loaned.
  • Some student loan limits (43%) vary by course level (PG/UG) or type (P/T or F/T).
  • Most institutions adhere closely to their postal loan limits (96% of those with limits).
  • A small number of institutions charge for the service, or make students or departments liable for outgoing postal loans.
  • The majority cover outgoing postal costs but expect students to cover payment for the return shipping.
  • Other supply services (photocopy, emailed PDFs and eBooks) operate in partnership with postal loan services at most institutions.

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Document Supply and Interlending Trends 2011

Posted by gazjjohnson on 14 March, 2011

As part of my role as Document Supply chief I’m working on an article at the moment looking at trends in the current UK interlending world.  As part of this work I’ve asked the great and the good members of document supply community to have a go at a very short survey.  If you’re an interlending kind of librarian – then I’d love you to have a go at the survey too.

Did I mention it is really short?  As always I’ll be sharing the results through the journal, and potentially here on the blog too if there’s enough interest!

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Inter-lending electronic only items

Posted by gazjjohnson on 25 January, 2011

Increasingly many libraries, including the British Library, with whom we interact for inter-lending and document supply purposes are purchasing materials in electronic only formats, and in some cases this is the only format in which they are produced.  For many this means that their licenses restrict the ability to loan or otherwise supply an item to another institution.  This means for our customers that there are items that we are unable to supply.  Thankfully for the most part this is only a small number of items but it is likely to grow.

Here at Leicester we keep a list of licenses, maintained by our Copyright Administrator, that details what we can and cannot do – to the best of our knowledge – in terms of interlending or supply from electronic only items.  For the most part this tends to be a “cannot be supplied” option, but this isn’t quite true across the board.  Some publishers do enable the lending or supply of physical duplicates of electronically sourced materials.  Thus when we do get requests for electronic materials to inter-lend we do our best to see if they can be on a case by case basis. 

I was curious if other organisations take the same approach, and so mailed a question off to lis-ILL

How are other institutions and organisations handling this when you get requests for eonly items? Do you have a blanket “can’t loan/won’t loan” approach or do you check licenses in each and every case in the event that items are loanable under some circumstances?

My thanks to the ten institutions whom took the time to feedback comments on their approach.  Numbers below refer to the number of institutions in my (small) sample and how they responded:

  • We check some, but not all of the licenses before making a loan decision: 1
  • We would check all of the licenses before making a loan decision: 6
  • We have an automated system that makes license checking easy: 1
  • We have a blanket “don’t loan” for electronic resources: 2
  • We maintain an electronic list of license terms: 1
  • We keep a physical license set of documents: 1
  • Would approach the publishers directly: 1

Quite a few of the respondents noted an issue with time or staff resource for checking licenses terms, especially where they had a blanket no-loaning of electronic resources approach.  It seems the picture on the whole is a mixture, although most people seem to have begun to think about the issue (and a few in my sample are quite concerned for the future of interlending as a consequence!)

I think there’s scope here for a bit more research across the UK, and if there’s enough interest in my findings here I’d be happy to sort out a more structured survey!

Posted in Document Supply | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Future of Interlibrary Loans – workshop

Posted by gazjjohnson on 13 December, 2010

Another guest post by one of my team members (Izzy Hoskins again!) on a recent ILL event

On the 8th December myself and two colleagues attended the EMALINK event Inter Library loans: towards the future – differences and parallels at the University of Derby.

This consisted of presentations by both Tim Peacock of the University of Derby and Dorothy Atherton of the University of Nottingham. These presentations were followed by demonstrations of their systems and a discussion between attendees as to the varying natures of our methods.

Tim began by presenting various statistics, notably that after a period of decreasing requests the past two academic years have seen an increase in requests at Derby: 07-08 seeing a 9% increase and 09-10 an 8% increase. They seemed to welcome this rise and felt that this was due to moving towards a user friendly electronic requesting system. Their website was visually accessible and an online requesting service was available to everyone although undergraduates have to pre-pay allowing staff to update their records. This was felt to be a problem and they are hoping to develop an online payment system in order to ease the administrative process. It certainly seemed to be the case that their administrative processes could be streamlined into a much more efficient and staff friendly system. All requests were received (at the staff end) by e-mail and had to be re-keyed in order to be placed with the British Library. I have to say I was quite surprised by this especially given that one bonus of electronic signatures is that it does away with large quantities of paperwork. Printing these requests off effectively recreates this paper work and would be very time-consuming for their staff.

Dorothy Atherton, Services Manager in Resource Acquisition & Supply at the University of Nottingham gave the second presentation. Their department centrally processes three campuses and deals with around 8000 requests annually and are responsible for ILL, Digitisation as well as their digital archive. They have introduced digital signatures with a 100% online requesting system and like Derby were very keen on an accessible online interface. After a period of decline the number of requests that they receive has plateaud since 2006 with the number of loan requests remaining around 40% of their total. In 2010 the number of SED requests has overtaken that of photocopy requests which given the smaller costs of these they are actively encouraging. Like us all their requests are initially sent to the BL although the number of items they receive from them is gradually declining which has pushed them towards a greater use of Amazon marketplace, OCLC, Google and direct searches.

Both institutions used DX as a courier which led to some amusing bursts of horror with claims of items being found on roundabouts and ditches. We moved onto tea and were able to meet the faces behind daily correspondence.
Later it was agreed that a discussion between the attendees, co-ordinated by both Tim and Dorothy, would take place. A number of topics were discussed:

  • Inter-lending of electronic items:
    • Most institutions were aware that they could supply on occasion although most held back on supply as legislation was either not readily available or clear. This is clearly something that needs to be addressed with the movement towards electronic collections.
  •  Charges and quota systems
    • Some very interesting differences were uncovered and there seemed to be a number of somewhat complicated payment systems in place and quota allocation varied drastically between institutions. For example:
      • Lincoln only charge 50p for an inter-library loan
      • Warwick have budgets for departments as opposed to the usual quota system
      • One institution even allowed members of staff to donate their quotas to colleagues..
  • Electronic Signatures
    • Nearly all attendees aside from ourselves had moved to electronic signatures although this did not necessarily mean a simpler system overall.
  • Writing up status
    • Surprisingly most institutions treated writing up students as full time paying students when allocating allowances
  • Charges
    • Many institutions subsidise the British Library costs although most seemed to looking towards increasing their charges in light of imminent budget cuts.
  • Rising costs
    • These were a key feature and it was particularly interesting to note that some institutions purchased items online if they were found to be cheaper than the British Library charge of £12.00 for a loan.
  • Databases
    • Everyone used the same databases, ie: Worldcat, Copac, Suncat and the inforM25 and some also paid subscriptions to Unity amongst others.

It was very interesting to see where we fit alongside other institutions that are facing similar pressures. We came away with a lot of ideas and suggestions to take our service forward and felt that meeting the people we work alongside through e-mail will be of benefit in our work.

Posted in Document Supply, Staff training | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

FIL @British Library St.Pancras – Nov 2010

Posted by gazjjohnson on 29 November, 2010

On the 26th November I travelled down to London to attend, and participate, in the Forum for Interlending’s (FIL) biannual British Library event.

The day started with Graham Titley, current FIL Chair, providing the introduction welcome and overview of the day. One of the things that struck me was the costs to FIL of organising the event at the BL and the newsletter. One thing that was clear is that FIL needs engagement for and with its members, something that resonates with my recent engagement with CILIP.

First on the programme was Richard Scobie from the BL sound and music collections, who gave an overview of one of the many collections and services within the BL that a lot of people might not have used. As we don’t have a music dept of Leicester this wasn’t of immediate practical use. However, one could easily foresee some of our depts (e.g. Media and Communications) having some call on these materials. I think I was most interested as to practicalities of how one of our readers might get hold of one of these recordings – the formats etc.

Richard talked us through their acquisitions policy, everything from legal deposit through to collecting representative samples from around the world such as sending representatives to record events like WOMAD themselves. A lot of access to materials is through the reading rooms (aka listening rooms), although print and manuscript music can only be read in the Rare Books and Music rooms. SoundServer exists to provide access to digitised materials. Access to archival sound recordings is via a subscription, which is free to HE and FE libraries (unsure about public libraries mind you). I was quite interested to hear about Petrucci music library which appears wiki for music scores, although for the largest part within copyright.

I was a bit frustrated as Richard didn’t show us any of these services or various links he alluded to during the session; which given music support isn’t especially in my remit I’m unlikely to follow up after the fact.

Following this session the group broke in half, one set to tour the BL and the other to take part in a discussion workshop looking at the challenges facing inter-lending, how to overcome them and to generally share experiences with the delegates. This seemed to go down well (so well that we re-ran the workshop in the afternoon with the other half of the delegates).

After lunch Elizabeth Newbold from the Science, Technology & Med Collections at BL talked about her part of the BL. Like Richard, her overview was ripe with detail but thin on demonstration and I confess that I found it a little hard to pick out particular value from her session. One point she made raised my eyebrows – she commented that generally universities are more clued up in the delivery of digital content and materials than the BL; and that the BL aspires to offer the levels of service that we HE/FE librarians do as a matter of course. I was deeply complimented, if not a little concerned that our national library should feel it wasn’t leading the way on these things.

After the workshop re-run the afternoon was concluded with Jason Murray giving a highly entertaining, and hands on demonstration of the BL’s technology for dealing with disabled readers. This was by and far the best of the BL sessions in the day, with Jason’s delivery alone raising the slightly flagging attention of the audience. He raised some valid points about supporting disabled readers and included some interesting points about dealing with students with mental health issues as well. He explained that mentioning a disability scares some staff, but that with proper training and plenty of patience it is possible to offer them excellent service levels

One other thing I did take away from the day was the sheer cost of holding an event at the British Library, close to £8,000 for the day, which meant that even with close to fifty delegates that FIL made a loss on the day. I suspect future events may need to relocate to another cheaper location in London, and include visits to the BL as an add on to the programme. A shame as the BL venue is nice, but sadly the return on the group’s investment doesn’t really seem enough.

Due to my organisational hat wearing role for the day, I wasn’t able to tour the BL, but I’m pleased to hear from Lyn (my accompanying team member) that it was well worth the trip! Hopefully FIL will be able to arrange something along the same lines as this next year (there’s already a March 2011 event going up to Yorkshire), although perhaps at a less costly venue!  Now if you’ll excuse me I’ve outputs from the workshop to type up and try and turn into a useful resource for those folks who couldn’t make it to the meeting!

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FileOpen is coming – help me test it!

Posted by gazjjohnson on 28 September, 2010

File Open is the new secure electronic delivery mechanism the British Library have been moving to, to replace the rather less user friendly Adobe Digital Editions (to paraphrase the BL’s words).  Over the summer the update plug-in should have rolled out to all campus machines on the CFS network, with the student PCs being the last ones done this month.  Off campus people will need to download and install the FO plug-in for themselves, but this should be a relatively painless exercise, at least according to every document supply manager I’ve spoken to who’s already done it.

I’m currently mulling over when would be the best time to make the switch over, as term is kicking off all around me this week and next it doesn’t seem the right time to spring this; but perhaps a 2011 roll out would be more suitable.  it would certainly give me more time to do a spot of testing.  I wouldn’t want to push something out before I know it’s working for our readers!

In the meantime – if you get the chance to follow this link and try opening the document on a CFS machine (or download the plug in and try on your own machine) I’d be really grateful!  If you can tell me your machine type (Mac/PC), operating system and if you’re on CFS or not, that’d be even better!

Posted in Document Supply, Service Delivery | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

A little bit of an ILL Excel challenge

Posted by gazjjohnson on 23 August, 2010

I know there must be an elegant and clever solution to a problem I have.  I’ve acquired an Excel output with a long list of values – 8,000+ to be exact.  Each one is an instance when someone placed an interlibrary loan request last year for a book or a journal, and contains the title of a book or a journal.  Like so:

BOOKILL Sharing the Earth: the Rhetoric of Sustainable Development AC-STAFF
BOOKILL Shelley and Vitality RES-PG
BOOKILL Shelley’s satire: violence, exhortation, and authority RES-PG
BOOKILL Shipwreck Anthropology DL-TCPG
BOOKILL Shock, Memory and the Unconscious in Victorian Fiction TC-PG
BOOKILL Short Story Theory at a Crossroads AC-STAFF

 What I want to know:

  • Is there a way to group the list by most popular titles (e.g. those that appear more than once)?

You see in this way I can see books that are regularly requested for loan from the British Library , and likewise journals, that we could perhaps consider for purchasing.  Something I’m sure the information librarians would find useful.

Using COUNTIF= has been suggested, but to use this I’d need to know what was the most popular variable already.  I fear currently this goes beyond my Excel skills to solve, but I can’t be the first person to try and find this sort of information out.  Any and all suggestions are welcomed – otherwise I’m going to have to eyeball this list.

Posted in Document Supply | Tagged: , , , , , | 9 Comments »

Where next for resource licensing?

Posted by taniarowlett on 24 June, 2010

Last week I attended a JIBSEduserve seminar entitled ‘Where next for resource licensing?’.  Owen Stephens keynote discussion focussed on the increasing use of mobile technology by library users and how we should be meeting these changes in access.  He suggested that we needed to get smarter in the type of support offered for these users, and that e-journal licences needed to make provisions for off line access, such as re-formatting/re-packaging for e-books.  He ended with what to me came to be the theme of the day, walk-in users and how many found the term a confusing concept.

Following this Louise Cole gave us an excellent overview of the ‘thorny issues’ experienced by librarians attempting to decipher e-journal licences and terminology, and proposed her definitions of what the terms partnerships, alumni, walk in users and distance learners might mean, but stressed that interpretations may differ between licensors and licencees. 

Jenny Carroll relayed the results of her survey of Eduserve Data Contacts which suggested that Universities were interested in extending their e-journal licences – and therefore access – to partners, alumni and local businesses and communities, there was uncertainty about how they could implement this and what costs would be involved.

After lunch Matt Durant gave us a positive insight into the implementation and workings of OpenAthens LA 2.0 at Bath Spa University, followed by Mark Bide from EDItEUR talking about machine readable licences.  I found this area of particular interest because it could have a huge impact on those such as I who handle copyright for University staff and students.  The idea is that their ONIX-PL (ONIX for Publications Licences) would allow users to click on a button and receive clear and concise information as to what they could and couldn’t do with the journal article they were viewing.  This would certainly help answer many users queries of this nature, as well as enable course pack and digitisation list checking to be simplified and streamlined.

The final session of the day by Martyn Jansen from Eduserv was also extremely interesting and it was great to hear from someone who works with the writing and implementation of e-journal licences on a daily basis.  Eduserv had undertaken a review of their Chest licence to ensure it was fit for purpose and proposed a number of additional clauses, a prototype version of which was sent to contract/legal contacts of their 23 journal suppliers.  The results were somewhat skewed by no response having been received from 13 publishers, but Martyn was hopeful that Eduserve could negotiate with suppliers to refine the licence so that it meets both the University librarians needs as well as the concerns of the publishers. 

It was an event that was well worth attending and brought JIBs to my attention.  I shall look out for further events in the area of e-journals and their licensing.

Posted in Copyright & Course Packs, Document Supply, Service Delivery | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Surprise! EThOS changes its interface

Posted by gazjjohnson on 26 May, 2010

Spotted this morning by one of my eagle-eyed team (thanks Valérie) that the British Library EThOS e-thesis service has changed it’s interface.  For the most part this is the introduction of a few nicer looking buttons to replace text links.  However, the biggest change is the revision to how searching results now look.

Ethos searching results

Where a thesis is available for immediate download a little PDF symbol appears, although confusingly this is not a hot link.  You need to click on the hyperlinked title to access the individual thesis record.  However, on this next screen (shown below) you will not be able to download or even see the options for downloading unless you are logged into your personal EThOS account.

Downloading a thesis

Once logged in you will now see a somewhat alarming Choose Pricing/Delivery link click on this and you will be given the options.  I feel this is a little misleading given that many of the thesis (including my example above) are available for download at no cost.  At this point you can proceed through the familiar add to basket, confirmation, create order and finally download.

While this does improve the look and feel of the site I think it falls down on three points – the lack of announcement from Ethos that this was happening, the lack of updated user guides and the alarming Pricing/Delivery option that will put a lot of people off downloading theses for fear they will be charged.  While there are a number (around 30) universities who do charge the first user for new digitization of theses, the vast majority of us in the EThOS scheme (Leicester included) don’t, and so this is rather a false impression.

How the rest of the thesis user community reacts to this will be very interesting.

[Edit: Just noticed that some places, like Edinburgh above, have their university logo attached.  Leicester doesn’t (I’m not aware of us being approached for them to use it) currently have this appended to our theses on there.  I actually quite like this, as it helps with the branding – but I would like them to link back to our repository as well]

Posted in Document Supply, Open Access | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Rust, DRM and the British Library

Posted by gazjjohnson on 24 May, 2010

With my document Supply hat on I was interested to read Peter Murray Rust’s post the other day on DRM (Digital Rights Management) and the British Library; and I’ll admit I found myself nodding in agreement with some of his comments. That said while the system previously adopted using the Adobe Digital Edition platform has had a few niggles over the years, on the whole for our users it has worked ok. I am pleased to say that the BL is moving away from this to the FileOpen platform which by all accounts is much more trouble free; and we’ll be hopefully moving to this in coming months (once I’ve tested it thoroughly and prepared the appropriate publicity and training).

On the other hand reading the latter half of Peter’s post, I would disagree with quite a few of his comments aimed at librarians.  Academic libraries have to be cautious with copyright as publishers are notoriously litigious over their IPR  being redistributed, and organisations like the CLA keep an oversight that we don’t step out of line.  But why are the publishers able to swing such a mighty hammer over article copyright?  Only because many, many academics continue to perpetuate the gifting approach to publishing – giving away their rights in an article to publishers for publication.  Once these rights are given away, legally we librarians have to abide by the rules or risk penalties.

How can the situation be changed?  Only by academics themselves taking closer account of their publication habits, since they’re the one’s the publisher’s truly listen to.  It’s the same old open access message – think before you ascribe all rights to a publisher, consider using the SPARC addendum to retain rights to deposit in your open access repository, learn what your funder requires of you, and lobby publishers with whom you have a relation to develop or maintain fairer policies to the distribution of scholarly research funded out of the public purse.

Only in this way can the shackles of the BL’s license agreement with publishers be loosened, and only then will we see a reduction in the severity DRM terms of use.

The ball is, very much, in the academics’ court.

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