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The eLib Phase 3 Programme

Hybrid Libraries and Large Scale Resource Discovery
(see CLUMPS) and Digital Preservation

Hybrid Libraries


World-wide there have been a large number of electronic, digital or virtual library projects, which are producing a wide range of alternative technologies. The eLib programme itself has contributed to the options available. The challenge now is to bring together technologies from these new developments, plus the electronic products and services already in libraries, and the historical functions of our local, physical libraries, into well organised, accessible hybrid libraries.

CEI is tackling these issues by funding a small number of exemplar or pilot hybrid library development projects, integrating a wide range of traditional and new library resources as seamlessly as possible.

While physical library collections are bounded by space, being located in a set of actual buildings and usually based in one (possibly distributed) organisation, the electronic library is potentially freed from these constraints. So electronic or digital libraries could be organised in various different ways, including an institutional basis, but also possibly regional, or subject-based. CEI also wants to explore how regional or subject organisations might apply to hybrid libraries, integrating remote access both to electronic and physical collections and to services.

In JISC circular 3/97 CEI sought institutional, regional, subject-based or other consortium bids. It was recognised that in the case of institutional bids, the advantage to the institution should be balanced by institutional contributions to the project. Similarly any regional or subject-based bids were encouraged to link to an existing organisational nexus, such as an active regional or subject-based cooperation agreement.

Subject-based Projects

Project Headline

The overall aim of the project is to integrate a wide range of resources related to Social Sciences and Business Studies from both academic and commercial sources, via a Web-based common user interface. The project will establish and implement a working model for consistent access to library materials regardless of physical form, using tools and technologies widely available to the academic community. The project will be led by the London School of Economics with partners at the London Business School and the University of Hertfordshire. Development work will be carried out at the LSE and the LBS, with all three sites acting as test-beds and contributing to user studies.

This project plans to address a good cross-section of the teaching, learning and research situations to be found in UK higher education. The resource components are the real-world objects with which the library works: the catalogues, databases, applications, electronic services, Web resources etc. which are the building blocks to the hybrid library. The model is intended to be widely applicable, and the consortium elements readily scaleable to larger groupings of libraries.

The initial test-bed for development will be based around economics, finance and business information which are of interest to all consortium partners. The commercial value of much of the data in these subject areas has meant that suppliers have found it worthwhile to make substantial investments in making the data available electronically using a variety of access media and delivery methods, which range from proprietary Windows interfaces to Web-based products.

The model proposed for the hybrid library is user-centred, and the fundamental design concept is that the user operates within a user-dependent managed web environment. The system has access (via the login process) to the user's administrative details - status subject area, registered courses etc. - and uses this information to provide a tailored and supportive environment. The system retains feedback from the user's actions, providing a mechanism for the user profile to develop with time. Thus the environment is capable both of responding to the deliberate choices on the part of the user, and of offering new resources (based on subject-linked metadata) as the user extends his/her explorations.

Project Malibu

The project will develop and implement prototype hybrid libraries in each of the three major partner institutions and in so doing derive generalisable institutional models, which will be tested first in a number of test-bed institutions before being distributed throughout the community. The project will be led by King's College London with partners in Oxford University and the University of Southampton.

The project will focus on the Humanities disciplines and seeks to provide innovative and cost-effective ways to meet the ever-increasing information requirements of staff and students through co-operative resource-sharing. The term 'hybrid library' refers to the users' need to gain effective access to both digital and non-digital resources within a common information framework. The project will not seek to create new tools or resources, but rather to integrate those already under development, exploiting to the full the substantial work being done in the UK - much of it funded by JISC - and abroad. In doing this it aims to create an operational service that will enable users to take maximum advantage of the new tools, resources and infrastructure. It aims further to create a service framework sufficiently flexible that future technical developments can be introduced in a timely and non-disruptive manner.

The development of the hybrid library involves a range of key management, organisational, personnel and training issues with significant implications for how to support the mix of old and new services. The project will propose models for organising and managing the hybrid library, and - just as important - for how to migrate from current structures to the new ones.

Information users - academics and students alike - are important stakeholders in the development of hybrid library services, and there will be major changes in user needs, expectations and training. The project will develop models for how best to deal with these changes, with significant user input as a major feature in the development of services and in the continuous evaluation of the project.

Support for Teaching and Research

Project HYLIFE

The HYLIFE project seeks to establish, test and evaluate a knowledge of operating practices for the "hybrid library" which can then be disseminated to the wider HE community. The project will be managed through the University of Northumbria but will be co-directed by Northumbria and the University of Central Lancashire.

One of the main objectives of the project will be to design a suitable library framework within which a hybrid library service can operate and then to test, implement and use that service in live environments.

The project aims to design and develop a generic software interface which will then be tailored to the needs of particular client groups. A wide range of client groups will be involved in the project including full and part-time students, researchers, users in distributed environments and various subject groupings. These users will be chosen from the two lead institutions as well as from Newcastle, Plymouth and the University of the Highlands and Islands. Six implementation interfaces will be developed during the life of the project. These are:

  • a conventional student interface serving full and part-time students in Geography
  • a franchise college interface (college groups in the North and South many part-time)
  • a research interface for researchers in Regional and Economic Development
  • a remote user interface in Business studies
  • a practitioner/student interface in Heath studies (many part-time participants)
  • a distributed user interface (focus mainly on the University of the Highlands and Islands project)

The demonstrator interfaces will be open and system-independent and will take a two-stage approach with a Web interface initially providing access to a range of services including the library catalogue then moving on to provide Z39.50 capability as a development of the Web interface.

The demonstrator approach will focus on the users and development will be iterative with users involved throughout the development phases. However, the main focus of the project is on the organisational, social, educational and service practicalities of delivering electronic and print based library services through an integrated electronic access.

The Institutional Approach

Project BUILDER (Birmingham University Integrated Library Development and Electronic Resource).

The focus of this project is primarily on a single institution and will be led by the University of Birmingham. However a number of HEI partners in the project (Oxford, Westhill College and Wolverhampton) as well as one non-HEI partner (the Birmingham Central Library) will provide test-sites for the hybrid library model developed at Birmingham. Although centred around the University of Birmingham the project draws on existing regional strengths, and can provide significant benefit to library users in West Midlands which can be leveraged through the Birmingham Public and Academic Library Services (PALS) group.

The project will develop a working model of the hybrid library within both a teaching and research context, seamlessly integrating access to a wide range of printed and electronic information sources, local and remote using a Web-based interface. The model will focus on a series of six modules which will be developed for and applied across six laboratory and non-laboratory based disciplines. The modules are

  • user registration and induction
  • ordering and delivery of materials
  • metadata index for printed and electronic sources (including library catalogues, online databases, CAL packages, CD-ROMs and Internet resources)
  • teaching and learning (integrating existing materials including eLib project work as well as providing support for teaching staff in the creation of Intranet support packages)
  • publication and digitisation (involving the University of Birmingham Press)
  • access gateways (to external Internet resources)

Outcomes of the project will be widely disseminated through reports, discussion lists, print publications, workshops and conferences.

As a reflection of the institutional nature of this work, 30% of the project will be funded directly by the University of Birmingham.

Infrastructure Issues

Project AGORA

The project aims to provide an open, standards based platform for distributed, mixed-media information management as well as a framework for end-user-oriented services and an infrastructure which can be scaled up to provide the backbone for national access to distributed collections (the Distributed National Electronic Resource) Building on the work if the existing EDDIS and MODELS projects (eLib phase 1), the project will be led from the University of East Anglia with partners in the UK Office for Library and Information Networking, CERLIM (University of Central Lancashire) and Fretwell-Downing Informatics Limited.

Recognising that the hybrid library extends beyond the physical limitations of the library as "place" the AGORA project is working with the concept of an "information landscape" to refer to the view of resources (of many types) the hybrid library will present. The outcome of the project work will be a layer of software or "middleware" which hides the underlying differences between resources allowing for seamless access to them as well as the transparent addition of services and resources into the landscape. The Hybrid Library Management System will act as a broker to dynamically map user requests onto the underlying system requests. Integration of components will be done through a Z39.50 service and will include the library catalogue, CDROM's, "clump" entry points, subject gateways, Electronic Document Integration etc.

This project is not about "interface" but about enabling the library to present a uniform service easily within its own technical environment. Focus areas for the project will be

  • discovery of resources
  • interaction with services
  • control of access
  • selection and acquisition of resources
  • organisation or resources for access

The development process will involve users from the beginning. A comprehensive evaluation at all sites will be undertaken by CERLIM.

Strategies for communication and dissemination will be developed and implemented.

Large Scale Resource Discovery


The UK's higher education libraries contain an incomparable set of scholarly bibliographic resources. At present the access to and exploitation of these resources by our community, other than at a local level, is patchy. The Anderson report points out the impossibility of all institutions (or even any one) building adequate research collections on their own, and the increasing imperative to share resources, particularly at a regional level. The report highlights the need to network library OPACs as part of this.

In a trivial sense this has already been done, through the attachment of most HE OPACs to JANET. However, this clearly does not provide adequate access on a national scale, owing to the number of highly different user interfaces and organisations, and the impracticality of searching these OPACs in serial fashion.

During the third workshop associated with the MODELS project consensus was for integrated access to OPACs, leading to a National Scale Resource Discovery system, based on groupings or clumps of OPACs - these may be either physical clumps, where records from several OPACs are physically collected to form union catalogues (as in COPAC, the CURL OPAC), or virtual clumps using Z39.50 to create a distributed union catalogue, for example a regional clump. Users would search a virtual clump or a collection of such clumps through a "front page" or broker service.

CEI plans to establish a set of pilot clumps and in so doing produce model technical and other agreements that will allow subsequent clumps to be justified regionally or by subject on their own merits. CEI hopes to see the large scale clumps projects it is funding in the short term extending to a truly national scale as part of a Distributed National Electronic Resource for UK HE.

A Regional Focus

RIDING: Z39.50 Gateway to Yorkshire Libraries

The project aims to support large scale resource discovery across the Yorkshire and Humberside region. The project will be led by the University of Sheffield on behalf of the 9 university libraries within the Yorkshire and Humberside Universities Association. Partners include the British Library, Leeds Public Library and Information Services and Fretwell-Downing Informatics Limited. The participating institutions represent collections of outstanding value regionally, nationally and internationally and enhancing access will have far reaching benefits. The member libraries will also form the core of the UK Special Interest Group for the EU-supported UNIverse project, giving RIDING a special European dimension.

Work on the project will provide a coherent, large scale demonstration of the use of Z39.50 to create a distributed union catalogue. By involving the public library service of the City of Leeds the project plans to demonstrate the benefits of collaborative resource discovery across multiple sectors, providing an important underpinning to both the Anderson and Dearing reports with their emphasis on regional partnerships.

From a national viewpoint however the project will provide a coherent, large scale demonstration of the use of Z39.50 to create a distributed union catalogue which includes cross-catalogue searching and collection level profiling. The participating libraries employ a diverse group of commonly used library management systems.

The CAIRNS project - Co-operative Academic Information Retrieval Network for Scotland

The Scottish university libraries have worked together for some years under the auspices of the Scottish Confederation of University and Research Libraries (SCURL) and have successfully worked on a number of collaborative projects including SALSER, CATRIONA and SCOPE. The SCURL membership also includes the National Library and the large public libraries - it represents a significant national scholarly resource.

The CAIRNS project will be led by the University of Glasgow and will include 16 Scottish sites including East Dunbartonshire Public Library.

The overall objective is the establishment of a SCURL clump which will link library catalogues using Z39.50 (via the Web). However the project plans to allow the SCURL clump to be configurable as a number of "sub-clumps" which will be generated dynamically to allow searching across geographical, material type or subject based groupings. The project will take advantage of the Scottish work on Conspectus and SCURL's RCO (Research Collections Online) service as the basis for the subject-based dynamic clumping.

The clump as a whole and many of the "sub-clumps" will provide a value added service to the HE community both within Scotland and across the UK improving the extent to which users are able to search for and retrieve appropriate information on available resources, regardless of their location.

The Subject-based Approach

Music Consortium

Music libraries face unique challenges in meeting users' needs. Music may be required in any of a wide range of formats - the same work may exist and fulfill different study needs as a full or vocal score, as sound recording or video. Printed music is used not only for study purposes but also for live performance which makes easy access to and speedy delivery of a particular score of critical importance.

The nine UK conservatoire libraries hold an incomparable set of scholarly musical resources. This project aims to link the OPACs of a consortium comprising all nine libraries through JANET (via the Web) and using Z39.50 to form a virtual union catalogue for music materials of all kinds. The diversity of systems provides scope for testing the compatibility of new-generation Z39.50 compliant systems such as Unicorn with much larger systems based on older software and holding shared catalogue data.

With access to each others' holdings through a virtual clump, the conservatoire libraries would be able to provide facilities on a scale which they are unable to support solely form their own resources.

The first stage of the project includes 5 libraries which are able to enter the project immediately. These are

  • Birmingham Conservatoire at the University of Central England
  • The Royal Academy of Music
  • The Royal Northern College of Music
  • The Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
  • Trinity College of Music

A further 4 libraries will join the project in the second stage. These are

  • City of Leeds College of Music
  • Guildhall School of Music and Drama
  • Royal College of Music
  • Welsh College of Music and Drama

The project plans to investigate options for including within the consortium music libraries from other sectors such as university, national, public and composer archives. In addition to the availability of the library catalogues, the main objectives of the project include making available collection level descriptions of each library's holdings; facilitating a highly efficient interlending system; and co-ordinating acquisitions policies. Several of the participating libraries have also been cataloguing special collections materials under the HEFCE Non-Formula Funding (NFF) initiative and enhanced access to these records will be of interest not only to scholars in the UK but worldwide.

The pilot work undertaken by this project will be of immense value and relevance to the information community at large and will inform decisions about establishing future national subject clumps.

Access to London Libraries

The M25 Clump

The M25 Consortium was established in 1993 and the resources within its membership amount to about 20% of UK HEI libraries provision with a great diversity of institutions and richness of collections. Within the pilot group and the Consortium as a whole there are significant holdings which are not represented in national clumps such as COPAC but which are a useful resources that deserves greater and wider exploitation.

The project will be led by the University of Westminster with partners in BLPES, City University, the University of Greenwich, Middlesex University, and Queen Mary and Westfield College using the Z39.50 intefaces available from the major library systems suppliers represented in the pilot libraries.

The project will be a providing an access tool to library catalogues which will provide information on monographs and serials building on the London Union List of Serials. Member libraries of the M25 have between them a wide range of library management systems common across all HEIs in the UK all of which have a Z39.50 interface available. The prime focus after the first step of connecting the OPACs together in a virtual clump will be on access to a deeper level of serials holdings information. This will be complex as each type of OPAC and each institution may have completely different approaches for storing serials holdings data.

The project will be developed using internationally recognised standards which will allow replicability and interoperability with similar consortia. The search tool will be built onto the existing M25 web guide ( with its capability of restricting searches to geographical zones, and its information on subject strengths, opening hours, and access policies.The system will be designed in such a way that a strategy for linking to other document delivery initiatives such as LAMDA, EDDIS or JEDDS should be clear.

Digital Preservation

Recent years have seen a massive increase in the range and volume of digital information resources, and their acquisition by libraries, but there is no formal mechanism for the long-term preservation of this material. There is a pressing need for a strategy for digital preservation. Under the overall direction of the Consortium of University Research Libraries (CURL), the CURL Exemplar for Digital ARrchiveS (CEDARS) project aims to address the strategic, methodological and practical issues and will provide guidance for libraries in best practice for digital preservation.

The 3 year project will be based across three lead sites (Oxford, Leeds and Cambridge) and will extend its scope of involvement through focus groups, workshops and managed electronic discussion lists. The project Advisory Board will also include substantial representation from non-CURL institutions.

There are a wide range of digital resources. The project will focus on some of the existing categories and intends to identify techniques which can be generalisable and extended to the full range of digital materials. Deliverables include:

  • guidelines for developing digital collection management policies which may ensure the long-term viability of any digital resources included in a collection;
  • demonstrator projects to test and promote the technical and organisational feasibility of the chosen strategy for digital preservation;
  • methodological guidelines developed by the demonstrator projects providing guidance about how to preserve different classes of digital resources including detailed advice about appropriate storage media and back-up strategies and data formats;
  • analysis of the cost implications of digital preservation.

The lead sites will be responsible for the project's work at both the practical and strategic level. Agreements have been obtained in principle from a number of digital data providers to deliver digital resources for inclusion in the project which will allow for practical work at an early stage. There will be significant input from a wide range of stakeholders both within and without of the JISC community including the national data centres and services, other HE institutions, the Research Libraries Group and commercial publishers.

Evaluation and widespread dissemination of knowledge and learning will be ongoing throughout the project's 3 years.

The project work will also inform JISC through CEI, on the development of a national strategy for digital preservation.

Kelly Russell
eLib Development Co-ordinator
September 1997

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