To: Vice Chancellors and Principals of all HEIs funded by HEFCE, HEFCW, SHEFC and DENI
Copies: Librarians and Information Services Directors in the above institutions

JISC Circular 11/95 - 15th November 1995

Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib); targeted call for new proposals


1. JISC Circular 4/94 invited HEIs and other interested bodies, to submit expressions of interest to implement the IT recommendations outlined in Chapter 7 of the report of the Joint Funding Councils' Libraries Review Group (the "Follett" report). In light of the responses received, JISC Circular 1/95 summarised the proposed way ahead in each of the programme areas, followed by a press release in June 1995 announcing the details of the projects supported by the eLib programme and an eLib information pack. A set of world-wide web pages describing the programme has been set up and a discussion list has been set up for discussion of the eLib projects.

2. The successful applications include examples of wholly new journals as well as experiments in parallel publishing in both digital and traditional format. These projects provide a comprehensive programme but do not completely address three key areas: the creation of pre-print (or grey literature) servers; projects which test new methods of quality assurance, including electronic refereeing; and electronic access to items in short loan or reserve collections. FIGIT is now seeking further proposals to develop a small number of projects in these areas. FIGIT is also seeking initial expressions of interest to establish one or more digitisation centres, separate and distinct from the selection of material to be digitised.

Pre Prints and Other Forms of Informal Publication

3. FIGIT wishes to encourage a diversification in scholarly information resources and significant reductions in publication delays through the establishment of electronic pre-print and grey literature archives, in association with specific academic disciplines, to provide a forum for the distribution and discussion of the best current work in those fields.

Such archives might contain a wide range of material from very early draft ideas through traditional pre-prints awaiting peer review to published peer-reviewed documents and post print updates and revisions. This would improve the flow of scholarly information and facilitate the academic use of such materials at earlier and more timely stages in the process than is currently possible. Materials would therefore be more widely available for informal discussion or teaching purposes whilst the peer review and formal publication process is underway. The key is to define a community of shared interests so that the proposed resource can serve it well.

4. Proposals should address:

5. FIGIT would also welcome projects which demonstrate the possibilities of the semi publication or interactive magazine to exploit the more discursive, less structured modes of communication that are possible using electronic networks. Such electronic semi-publications could create an outlet for notes, news, not-quite-formalised research findings, plus of course electronic notes and comments on other contributions. Such semi-publications might provide a more scholarly environment than is characteristic of the "USENET" news groups and mailing lists on the Internet, without succumbing to the conventional and sometimes constraining traditions of the established journal.

Quality Assurance in an Electronic Environment

6. FIGIT is also seeking to fund a small number of projects which utilise the potential offered by electronic networks in streamlining and enhancing the quality assurance process in scholarly communication.

7. Projects which offer to experiment creatively with the peer review process are encouraged. If the methods adopted are non traditional, the rationale and modus operandi should be described in detail.

8. Particular value will be attached to proposals which address:

Electronic Reserve Short Loan Collections

9. The management and operation of short loan collections is a significant burden on libraries and often a source of dissatisfaction for students. Trends are towards more resource-based learning, and with increasing class sizes it becomes increasingly difficult to meet the needs of some hundreds of students all seeking to consult the same information.

10. Electronic resources however are intrinsically available simultaneously to many users. In other countries, notably the US, there has been considerable emphasis on electronic reserve developments. FIGIT wishes to encourage UK developments in this field. In many ways this work is an extension of the On-demand Publishing programme area from the first FIGIT call in JISC Circular 4/94.

11. FIGIT will value submissions which address the management and control issues implied by the need to make material available to limited audiences and to get material into and out of the collection in a timely way. It may be desirable to link proposals to the management of reading lists.

12. It is essential that the copyright issues be adequately addressed. Proposals must be able to be re-used by or further developed for significant parts of the UK academic community. Involvement of rights holders is likely to be critical.

Digitisation Centre

13. After consideration of the first round of expressions of interest and proposals in the Digitisation programme area, FIGIT believes there is an advantage in setting up one or more digitisation centres, separate and distinct from the selection of material to be digitised.

14. Accordingly, FIGIT seeks initial expressions of interest from HEIs, individually or in consortia, or in partnership with commercial organisations, to establish such a centre. The interested HEIs will then be asked to bid early in 1996 when the final criteria are established. However, at a minimum the HEI should be able to demonstrate technical competency and an understanding of the copyright issues, with the management capability to run a centre with high throughput and to negotiate copyright clearances where appropriate. Support is likely to be available for a maximum of 3 years, so an exit strategy or business plan will become essential at the second stage.

15. Technical standards and volumes will be defined later. However a minimum of 600 dpi is expected with 24-bit colour where appropriate. Delivery is likely to be in HTML, PDF or image format with a searchable ASCII version in the latter case. An indication of costs per page at various volumes would be useful; FIGIT would like to see volumes in excess of 1 million pages per year if possible.

16. FIGIT plans to explore several models for material selection including usage/citation criteria, on demand digitising and polling expert groups in the subject areas.

Submission of Proposals

17. Full proposals in the first three categories listed above should be about 10 pages in length. Projects should aim to start as soon as possible and should run for a maximum of eighteen months in the first instance. At present funding totalling £500,000 is available for these projects and there is a possibility that additional funds will become available for a further 12 months. However, this will not be confirmed until March 1996 and will be dependent on the success of projects being funded.

18. Initial expressions of interest only are sought in the fourth category to establish one or more digitisation centres. These submissions should be limited to 2-5 pages.

19. A copy of FIGIT's guidelines for submission of bids is attached at Annex A to this circular. Ten copies of each full proposal or expression of interest must be provided: Each copy should be accompanied by a completed version of the cover sheet at attached at Annex B. Submissions should be addressed as follows:

Ms A Colban
Joint Information Systems Committee
Northavon House
Coldharbour Lane
Bristol BS16 1QD

20. Responses must be received no later than close of play on Thursday 4th January 1996. Faxed or late proposals will not be accepted. FIGIT will then make decisions in late January 1996 and the outcome will be announced as soon as possible thereafter.

21. General enquiries about this circular should be addressed to David Cook, JISC Secretariat, Northavon House, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol, BS16 1QD, tel: 0117 931 7250, fax: 0171 931 7255 email: Annex A to JISC Circular 11/95

Guidelines for Submission of Bids


A1. FIGIT does not wish to be prescriptive about the details of the full bids that will be supported under the initiative and will look to institutions to make proposals for the most effective means of meeting the programme objectives. In evaluating bids, however, the following general criteria will guide funding decisions.

Implementation and Potential Benefit

A2. Institutions submitting proposals will need to display a high degree of knowledge of the problems facing libraries in the HE community and the potential for utilising IT in alleviating these problems. High priority will be given to ensuring that the outcomes of the programme provide benefit throughout the higher education system. To this end most projects will be on a large scale and/or display potential for scaling up into full services for wide use across the academic community. Proposals will need to identify potential benefits to the HE community and a basis for assessing such benefits, and details for implementing them, must be included.

A3. Where appropriate, proposals should include outline "business plans" which anticipate prospective volumes of service and indicate how service objectives will be met once FIGIT support ends. This should include some indication of demand, service costs and charging possibilities.

Project Management

A4. Competence in project management (or robust arrangements for the effective management) to fulfil the aims and objectives of the project particularly in the management of partnerships and consortia and the control of project resources, will need to be demonstrated.

Consortia Bids

A5. Given the importance of encouraging a large number of institutions to be involved in the implementation and dissemination of the benefits of the programme, bids from consortia of departments or institutions have been encouraged. This applies especially to projects where transportability and common standards are crucial. Liaison with outside organisations such as other funding bodies, publishers and equipment suppliers has also been welcomed.

A6. There is no limit to the number of consortium-based bids in which an institution may participate, but only one non-collaborative project will be supported in each institution. Bids from consortia, drawn from either within or outside the academic community, must identify a lead HEFC or DENI funded institution which will be responsible for the management (including financial control) and delivery of the project. Agreements with partners from outside of the community and financial arrangements (e.g. funding from commercial organisations) which can be seen to offer overall benefits and economies in the deployment of JISC funds will be encouraged, but will need to be shown formally with the breakdown of the total project cost. Such arrangements should not be at the expense of the main objectives of the project.

Institutional Support

A7. Projects are expected to have the active support of the participating institutions' senior management, and should be accompanied by a covering letter from the Head of the institution. Priority will be given to projects where institutions themselves propose to commit funds and personnel.

Awareness of Other Initiatives

A8. Proposals should demonstrate awareness of the work of other related eLib projects and initiatives and services in the academic community (such as CTI centres, TLTP projects) and indicate their relevance. Equally, adaptation and use of experience drawn from developments in Europe, the United States and elsewhere will be welcomed.

Performance Indicators

A9. Projects will be expected to demonstrate a range of relevant performance indicators on which the project should be judged. Projects must include an evaluation component.

Funding Arrangements

A10. JISC's funds are allocated annually by the funding councils, and they are effectively obtained by a deduction from the block grants which would otherwise have been paid direct to institutions. This has consequences for the pattern and composition of the awards which can be made and account will need to be taken of the following points when submitting bids for funds:

(i) Although the JISC intends to continue funding successful proposals which run beyond the current year, those funds can only be fully confirmed on an annual basis.

(ii) Proposals may be funded on the basis of staff and incidental costs. This may include, for example, the equivalent costs of parts of posts, the costs of additional staff recruited to cover the regular work of those used on a project, and costs of consumables, production and dissemination, travelling, etc.

(iii) No individual institution (as distinct from the project itself or the community as a whole), should gain any significant incidental benefit from support by JISC, unless it can be shown that it would be impossible for the project objectives to be achieved in any other way. It follows that, although, for example, hardware purchase and hardware maintenance are eligible for support, such content in proposals will need to be fully justified.

(iv) Support will not be provided for institutional overheads in respect of any staff employed on a project; in general these costs are provided for in existing grants from the funding councils.

(v) JISC support will not be provided in advance of need; while such items as staff salaries will be covered by recurrent monthly payments, purchases will only be reimbursed against claims.

(vi) Institutions receiving funds will be accountable to JISC and the funding bodies for their use and will be expected to provide regular reports (interval to be specified by the Secretariat) on progress.

Layout of Proposal

A11 Proposals should be about 10 pages and should include the following:

(i) the scope and purpose of project should be set out clearly with precise objectives and an explanation of how these will be met;

(ii) details of the proposed implementation plan, including

(iii) details of associated institutions in the consortia (if applicable) outlining:

(iv) project development details including

(v) financial details including

(vi) evidence of "business plans" for project

Checklist for Compiling a full FIGIT Proposal

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