UKOLN MODELS: MOving to Distributed Environments for Library Services

Annual report to the Electronic Libraries Programme: 1996-97 (edited version)

Rosemary Russell, MODELS Project Manager, UKOLN


MODELS is one of the three eLib supporting study projects. It therefore has a different remit to projects which are developing products or services. The original aims of the supporting studies as an eLib group included helping to define issues in more detail and setting parameters for other work. MODELS has made a significant contribution to these objectives in the area of distributed library and information services. The workshops have brought together key players to discuss and define major organisational and technical issues for the development of distributed services. The recommendations have set parameters for continuing work in identified areas; much of this work is of major national importance. In addition, the project has produced a number of significant practical outcomes.

The MODELS project is a UKOLN initiative which receives support from eLib. In the first phase eLib provided funding for four workshops (from a total of five), and for technical consultancy. UKOLN made a successful proposal to eLib for a second phase, which will last until July 1998; this will fund a further three workshops, together with continuing technical consultancy. UKOLN staff costs are covered by the core grant.

MODELS Steering Committee members are Richard Heseltine (University of Hull), Chris Rusbridge (eLib Programme), Neil Smith (The British Library) and Peter Smith (LASER).

1. Activities and progress

The project centres around the workshops. Since the last annual report in August 1996, two further MODELS workshops have been held.

Followup activities resulting from all five workshops have also continued throughout the timeframe, as listed in 1.3 and 1.5. This has involved a very wide range of work, including the National Agency for resource discovery scoping study, standards for serials and clump working group coordination.

1.1 Major activities undertaken

Workshop 4

The fourth workshop was held in December 1996 and addressed Integrating access to resources across domains. It was chaired by Chris Rusbridge, eLib Programme Director. The aim of the workshop was an ambitious one: to explore how resources and systems might be structured so that users can search across the UK national resource and retrieve the materials they require from a range of domains and in a variety of formats (print and electronic). The focus was on scholarly users in particular. While it was acknowledged that different interpretations of the term 'domain' should be possible, for the purposes of the workshop it was generally understood to denote institutions, eg libraries, museums, archives etc.

Discussions focused on cross-domain metadata and discovery issues, including use of the Z39.50 Digital Collections Profiles for navigating collections. Collection level description emerged again as a major issue - this had already arisen at the third MODELS workshop. Also linked to MODELS 3 was the discussion of cross-domain clumping; as a result of issues raised here, the JISC Call for pilot virtual clumps proposals asked for expressions of interest in cross-domain clumps. MODELS 4 acted as the launch for the AHDS/UKOLN metadata workshops, which have taken forward much of this work.

Workshop 5

The final workshop in Phase I took place in April 1997. It was chaired by Richard Heseltine, University of Hull. It was funded primarily by BLRIC, with supplementary funding provided by eLib, as noted in 5.1 below. The workshop title was Managing access to a distributed library resource, with a focus on public library issues; it also included discussion of possibilities for cross-sectoral resource sharing, particularly with academic libraries. It involved a mixture of participants from public and academic libraries, and library services. Results included the recommendation for public library involvement in the eLib clumps initiative. UKOLN is also taking forward recommendations for ILL interoperability work, including the development of an ISO ILL Profile; a meeting of stakeholders is being arranged during autumn 1997.

1.2 Effects of changes made

The only significant change to the original project plan was the substitution of National resource discovery of printed scholarly material as the third workshop topic, in place of Libraries and the web. This was indicated in last year's annual report. It was a fortuitous change, since this workshop has produced some of the most significant results.

1.3 Main objectives/targets during the reporting period

The main objectives during this period were as follows:

1.4 Outputs from MODELS activities

As previously indicated, MODELS is not producing a product or service. It is developing a shared understanding of the organisational and technical issues that need to be addressed in the move to distributed library services; the MODELS technical consultant has developed a model systems framework to manage these services.

Four events have been held within the reporting period, as indicated in 1.3 above.

A number of reports, articles and papers have been written, some directly reporting MODELS results, others based on MODELS and related distributed services work.



Additional documents available via MODELS web pages:

There are a number of additional MODELS documents available on the web; some of the more important ones are highlighted below.


1.5 Successes

Successful MODELS events have been described in 1.1 and 1.3 above. There have been a number of successful direct outcomes, which are summarised below. However, of major importance to the project, there is evidence that MODELS results are directly influencing the development of other projects and services; some of these are also listed below.

It is also possible to point to more intangible benefits. Anecdotal evidence suggests that MODELS workshops have had an impact on the way people are thinking about future services, and that they have raised the aspirational level of some services and players.

Direct outcomes

Influence of MODELS

The following initiatives have all been directly influenced by MODELS outcomes:

International attention

A range of international organisations and projects have been following MODELS developments with interest:

2. Learning from the process of implementation

The majority of this section is not applicable to MODELS, given its status as a supporting study - there is no implementation involved in the project.

2.1 Influence of other projects and the eLib Programme Office

MODELS has close contact with related eLib projects, especially the document delivery projects. A large number of eLib project staff have participated in MODELS workshops and provided very useful input. Several have been members of the advisory panels which are convened for each workshop. They have also provided information and materials for various MODELS briefings and reports.

As a supporting study, it is particularly relevant for MODELS to work closely with the eLib Programme Office, and regular contact has been maintained throughout. The eLib Programme Director is on the MODELS Steering Committee and has provided valuable input to decision making. The Programme Office's overview of the UK electronic libraries environment is useful. Both Programme staff have participated in the majority of the MODELS workshops. This has been a key factor in achieving successful workshop results, both from the point of view of drawing up workable recommendations, and in subsequently taking them forward through the appropriate channels to fruition.

3. Interim evaluation results

It was agreed with eLib that the standard evaluation guidelines are not applicable to the MODELS project.

Evaluation was discussed at the August 1997 MODELS Steering Committee meeting. It was decided to send everyone who has participated in previous MODELS workshops a summary of Phase I achievements, and ask if they would be interested in attending future workshops.

4. Future development

The overall aims for the next reporting period are to consolidate the important achievements of the first MODELS phase and to build further on these by taking the project into a more practical, implementation environment. We are proposing three topics for Phase II which will achieve this. They have been influenced by the Dearing Report's prompting to move from a library services environment, to a more general learning resources environment. These topics are to be discussed and ratified at the CEI meeting in September 1997.

The recent MODELS Steering Committee concluded that the project had exceeded expectations, in achieving a number of key practical outcomes, in addition to its awareness-raising role. It will be important to monitor its impact.

5. Financial details

5.1 Workshops

The estimated cost of each workshop was £7,450, with an extra 15% allowed for workshop 2, given its extra length and networking requirements. (The actual expenditure for workshop 2 was less than anticipated, because it was not possible to identify enough UK participants with appropriate expertise.)

Financial year 1995/96
Workshop 1: £7,553
Workshop 2: £5,406

Financial year 1996/97
Workshop 3: £7,366
Workshop 4: £8,256
Workshop 5: ?

(The final figures for Workshop 5 are not yet available; £6,000 funding was awarded by BLRIC.)

Total anticipated expenditure for 4 workshops: £30,918
Total actual expenditure for 4 workshops: £28,581
Surplus: £2,377

It was agreed with eLib/CEI that this surplus could be used for two purposes:

MODELS Home Page