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Higher Education Resources ON-demand

Project web site


Mrs Carolyn Rowlinson
HERON Project Director
Associate Librarian
University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA
phone: 01786 467228
fax: 01786 466866

Dr Peter Kemp
Chairman HERON Project Board
Director of Information Services
University of Stirling
phone: 01786 467227
fax: 01786 466866


On-demand publishing and electronic reserve (OD/ER) hold out the promise of improving support for teaching and learning by enabling academic staff to tailor recommended reading to specific courses, offering the diversifying student population convenient access to reading materials via paper course packs or online delivery and by allowing librarians to allocate potential resources more effectively. At the same time, it offers a source of income to rights-holders.

The relatively small-scale eLib OD/ER projects have increased interest in its potential - however there are blockages in copyright clearance and the cost of digitisation is high. Economies will only be gained from a shared service. Some other conditions required for the successful adoption of OD/ER include streamlined copyright clearance procedures, a critical mass of high-demand quality material, integration of OD/ER into teaching and appropriate institutional support and IT infrastructure.


HERON will:

- develop a national database and resource bank of electronic texts which will widen access to course materials and improve the quality of learning throughout Higher Education in the UK;
- collaborate with rightsholders and representative bodies to remove blockages in copyright clearance and to determine appropriate fee levels and conditions for the digital age;
- offer opportunities to universities and colleges to market their own learning resources.

The database will be divided into the indexed content database and a value added access database. The database will contain records for digitised material within the following groups:

  • newly retro-digitised material
  • the archive of material from eLib projects
  • material mounted on behalf of publishers for HE use
  • HE-owned or unpublished HE material

In addition HERON will create a value added access route managed by Blackwell's Information Services, which will also be publicly available to all. Blackwell's propose to use their proprietary databases of book and CD-ROM titles, journals titles, electronic articles, and other content to match content held in the national database.

Copyright terms and conditions will be negotiated through Blackwell's licensing department and clearance will also be carried out through the CLA. Agreements will be made with individual publishers as well as with HEIs and individual academic authors.

Key Aims/Deliverables

HERON aims:

- to create a successful, new learning/teaching information service to benefit all UK Higher Education stakeholders;
- to create a sustainable business model in exchanging rights and access to electronic educational material for payment by licence or transactional fee to rights-holders;
- to build a viable bridge between the research and development focused projects and the commercial market that operates in the UK;
- to create a national electronic resources database of world class standard and interest.

This will be achieved by:

- developing a national database of digitised material and electronic texts. The database will provide pointers to other major resource banks of digitised texts (e.g. at publishers' own web sites and the British Library);
- building a resource bank of commercially published book chapters and journal articles, some retro-digitised on request by HEIs, plus current eLib project material (with extended licences), and HEI-owned electronic text;
- negotiating agreements directly with publishers in order to offer as early as possible a range of materials either in electronic form or available for digitisation on-demand;
- collaborating with the CLA in the development of a transaction-based electronic rights clearance service for HE;
- setting up a closed subscriber group of HEIs which will use the database to identify and request digitised material; (Subscribers will be required to accept certain terms and conditions relating to security in the use of such material.)
- facilitating requests for digitisation of additional material at competitive rates;
- marketing the national service and promoting vigorously the potential of on-demand and electronic reserve within HEIs.
A start-up service will begin by the end of May 1999 with initial subscribers offered the options of printed course packs or files for online delivery within HEIs.

The Core Services

  • access to the HERON database,
  • use of electronic text in the resource bank,
  • right to nominate new material,
  • copyright clearance, where agreements exist,
  • access to digitisation services at competitive prices.

Additional charges will be made:

  • for digitisation,
  • clearance fees (once-for-always, or repeated e.g. annual),
  • any special clearance requests.


University of Stirling (lead site)
Napier University
South Bank University
Blackwell's Bookshops and Blackwell's Information Services

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The Electronic Libraries Programme (eLib) was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
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