UKOLN Strategy


UKOLN Strategy and Core Work Programme
August 2004 - July 2007
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Document details

Author: Dr Liz Lyon, Director
Date: 12th May 2004
Version: 1.0 Revised.
Document Name: Strategy-2004-2007-v12
Notes: Sent to Core Funders 17.05.04


This document presents the Strategy and Programme of Work for UKOLN covering the period August 2004 - July 2007.


Mission and Objectives
Implementation Principles
Core Work Programme 2004-2005
Work Package 1 | Advisory and Dissemination Services
Work Package 2 | Working with Emerging Technologies and Standards
Work Package 3 | Building Pilots, Demonstrators and Tools
Work Package 4 | Achieving Consensus and Knowledge Transfer
Work Package 5 | Developing the Organisation
Risk Statement
Supporting Information
Research and Development Project Criteria
University of Bath Projects Criteria
Collection Description Focus Statement 2004-05
UKOLN Staff at May 2004
Organisational Structure

UKOLN Strategy 2004 - 2007


This document presents the new Strategy for the organisation from 2004-2007, together with a detailed description of the first annual work programme within this period, covering activities during 2004-2005. A three-year financial statement is included with explanatory notes. The new strategy takes into account the outcomes of the 2001 Review, more recent changes in the working environment at a local, national and international level and strategic discussions within UKOLN itself. It reflects the ideas and views of the Director and the Management Group, and has been produced with the full engagement and involvement of the staff teams.

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We are operating within a continually changing landscape. From political, socio-economic and technical perspectives, the world in which we live and work is advancing rapidly, reflecting the progress being made in the development and deployment of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) in education, culture, industry and leisure activities. The government agenda highlights a number of key drivers such as learning for life, the development of the regions, social inclusion and the implementation of e-services by local authorities, and we must understand their implications for the sectors in which we work: the widening participation initiatives in higher education are a good example of this. On the political stage, government departments are preparing for the next Comprehensive Spending Review. In this context, the Museums, Libraries & Archives Council (MLA) is collating its proposals which link national and regional activities in the cultural heritage sector in a new over-arching five-year strategy "Investing in Knowledge", which identifies a number of shared outcomes in four specific areas Communities, Learning and Skills, Creativity and Economy. These areas are supported by a number of cross-domain programmes such as Access, e-Society and Standards, which provide a structure for the planned work.

Amongst those bodies seeking funding, there are also a number of new groups and organisations which have recently emerged or are being proposed. These include the Common Information Environment Group, the NHS University and the Research Libraries Network. The positioning of UKOLN within this fluid political landscape is of paramount importance.

The rapid development and takeup of ICT is having a significant impact on our daily lives. Broadband and wireless technologies are underpinning the goal of ubiquitous access to the Internet. We are a more mobile workforce; we can carry out our tasks and responsibilities at a distance from our place of employment, whether the tasks are related to studying for a qualification, recording results from a field survey or simply writing a project report. We can access a wide range of information in our homes and in many public places. The "Framework for the Future" publication from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) eloquently describes a future for public libraries in lifelong learning, and the People's Network provides the enabling ICT infrastructure to facilitate increased access to resources. These dramatic social changes are affecting the expectations of learners of all ages, but particularly learners moving from school into tertiary education: in general they are a very ICT-aware population and we need to modify our information infrastructures, resources and services to reflect this trend, whether we are based in a museum, a library, a college or elsewhere in the community. Learners use the Web extensively, often as their first source and cultural organisations, educational institutions and business are responding by making more information available in this format. In the Department for Education & Skills (DfES) consultation document "Towards a unified e-learning strategy", a strong indication is given of the plans to draw together all learners in all sectors in a common framework.

In parallel, new models of scholarly communication are developing, focussing on disseminating information more rapidly and freely with initiatives such as open access journals and self-archiving of both data and information, in community repositories, prominent in this area. Associated economic models are evolving with the trend moving towards consumer-driven, full cost-recovery models leading to sustainable services for the future. The ongoing UK Government Science & Technology Committee inquiry into Scientific Publications is seeking evidence on a number of points relating to journal pricing policies, the availability of information, and the impact on science and the research process. In addition, there are interesting legal and intellectual property implications associated with the open access movements which have yet to be fully explored.

There are also major ICT-related developments which have great potential to radically change the way certain activities such as research, are carried out. These changes are reflected in the Research Councils (RCUK) "Vision for Research" and exemplified in the UK e-Science Programme, where the advent of distributed computing grids is facilitating the creation and capture of vast quantities of experimental and observational data in domains such as bio-medicine and astronomy. There are other applications in the areas of clinical medicine and aeronautics, where industrial and public sector partners are collaborating to re-engineer how vital services are delivered. A good example of this is the e-DiaMoND federated database, which is being constructed to enable more effective differential diagnosis of mammograms in the UK screening programme ( The longer-term aim is to migrate grid technologies into the broader e-research arena, which might include social science and arts and humanities applications, and eventually into our homes.

The apparent convergence of standards such as the evolving Web Services and Grid Services specifications, and new approaches to service delivery and management (such as trusted systems, e-utilities and autonomic computing models) are driving these innovative developments. The essential task of curating and managing these huge quantities of data is still at an early stage and there are many challenging issues associated with assuring the longevity and provenance of digital assets for both physical and virtual organisations. All of these developments are reflected in the new JISC Strategy 2004-06.

These challenges are also being addressed more widely as demonstrated in the US by the recent creation of the NSF Division of Shared Cyberinfrastructure which "supports design, development, and deployment of a set of interconnected computational resources, data repositories, digital libraries, sensors, and domain-specific instruments." One final point of a more pragmatic nature, is to note the multiple demands on resources and space which are leading to increasing financial pressures on higher and further education institutions and cultural heritage organisations. We need to understand these pressures and recognise the institutional imperative to recover all costs as part of a basic tenet of continuing successful operation.

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It is always challenging to try to predict the future, particularly within the rapidly changing world in which we operate. UKOLN is very aware of the need to balance its activities to meet the requirements of all of its funders, and to continue to achieve this within a landscape of constant change is a considerable challenge.

However, we believe that during the next three years:

An individual with multiple roles e.g. learner, researcher, consumer, citizen, will seamlessly move from one to another within the network space that they inhabit. This progression will be facilitated by a process of incremental convergence and the consequent development of a common infrastructure underpinned by the implementation of global standards. Whilst systems will evolve with greater complexity, the functionality of these high-performance distributed systems will begin to transition from research environments to our homes, assisted by the catalytic effect of the media and digital broadcasting, emergent business opportunities and consumer demand.

There will be preferential creation of born-digital materials with associated metadata assuring provenance and enriched by contextualisation. Network spaces will be customised or tailored to fit individual and community requirements ("mySpace"), furnished with an evolving selection of usable tools to enable the discovery, visualisation, analysis and re-use of data and information in support of knowledge acquisition. Routine tasks and transactions will be "intelligently managed", both in the user and the systems context, releasing time for more intellectually and compute-demanding processes and activities.

Within higher and further education, there will be little improvement in the financial pressures placed upon higher and further education institutions. Locally at the University of Bath, significant progress will be made in re-shaping the institution in the physical, academic and cultural senses, but the real changes will be seen in the longer term i.e. within a ten-year horizon. As a result, our organisation will be more dependant on diversifying income streams in order to maintain financial stability and in addition, we will need to continue to refine our business processes and administrative systems.

It will be essential to work with a wide range of key players in order to continue to develop within an increasingly competitive world. This will require strong and politically astute leadership enhanced by a positive approach to collaboration and partnership. Monitoring of our markets will enable us to be responsive to the needs and requirements of stakeholders and achieve greater penetration into the cultural heritage communities of public libraries, museums and archives. Our re-engineered Web-based outreach and dissemination channels will reflect the increasingly sophisticated expectations of users.

The expertise and skills of staff will remain our greatest asset. By continuing to extend their skills and knowledge and to provide a challenging but rewarding environment in which to work, we will further develop the organisation and continue to provide a valuable service to our funders and the wider community.

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Mission and Objectives

UKOLN has a clear and simple mission statement:

UKOLN is a centre of expertise in digital information management, providing advice and services to the library, information, education and cultural heritage communities by

UKOLN aims to provide support and development to advance the implementation of digital libraries, information resources and services in a common environment, working in partnership with key organisations, through a portfolio of user and community focussed services, development activities and applied research projects.

Our goals are to facilitate learning, research and knowledge creation by the widest possible audience, to engage with this audience and to provide practical solutions, guidance and tools to allow the full potential of such an environment to be achieved. We will contribute to the strategic objectives of our core funders as described in their forward planning statements i.e. the JISC Strategy 2004-06 and the MLA Strategic Plan 2004-2007 through an agreed programme of work. We will also support the Mission and Aims of the University of Bath.

Together, we have identified a shared agenda with a number of high-level organisational objectives which reflect both the changing political and technological landscape but also the unique skills and expertise located at UKOLN.

In addition the work programme reflects three priority areas identified by the core funders:

UKOLN is contributing to the development of the CIE both in terms of strategy and infrastructure development. Indeed, the principles and concepts which comprise the CIE, underpin all of our work.

The burgeoning growth in digital resources has led to the creation of digital repositories of both primary content and associated metadata for institutional, national and disciplinary communities. There are many issues still to be addressed related to their maintenance, development and sustainability as trusted sources of learning materials, research data and management information.

The implementation of open standards in systems and services which form a part of the CIE is an essential element in achieving a common infrastructure. The continuous refinement of standards, together with the development of new specifications means that the wider community needs to be aware of the importance of implementing relevant open standards but in addition where appropriate, that the digital library community is involved with and influences their development. The community also requires guidelines and recommendations for good practice in the implementation of metadata schema and UKOLN has a key role in this area.

For the period 2004-2007, our strategic objectives are to:

1. Support the wider community through advisory & dissemination services which satisfy individual user, institutional and community requirements.

We will achieve this through:

2. Act as a catalyst for innovation through our consultative role in "futures thinking" and by extending our work with emerging standards, technologies and innovative services.

This will be addressed by:

3. Progress the implementation of shared services and resources in a common environment by building proof-of-concept prototypes, demonstrators, pilots and tools.

We will achieve this by:

4. Facilitate knowledge transfer and consensus between sectors, domains, organisations and initiatives.

This will be achieved by:

5. Develop the organisation and its staff to ensure fitness for purpose and continued strategic coherence with funding bodies' aims and objectives.

This will be implemented by:

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5. Implementation Principles

In order to implement this new three-year strategy, the organisation must have appropriate activities, resources, structures and business processes in place. These will be described in more detail in an annual work programme and budget. The first of these covering the period 2004-5 is presented in the following sections.

In formulating this work programme we have concentrated on three criteria:

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6. Core Work Programme 2004 - 2005 | Overview

6.1 Work Package 1 Advisory and Dissemination Services.

Over the past three years, the work of the various non-core-funded Foci e.g. Interoperability Focus and the UK Web Focus, has been brought into the core funding stream. From 2004 onwards, the work of the Collection Description Focus will also be included in the Core Work Programme and a statement in justification of the activities and associated additional funding is included in Section 9.3. This leaves the Quality Assurance Focus as the only remaining non-core-funded Focus at UKOLN (dependent on agreement to continue to fund this role). This trend, together with the increasing need to provide services across sectors, has prompted some reflection on the various activities of these advisory roles, and has highlighted a desire to provide a more comprehensive set of "products" for the community. In addition we seek to fill in some perceived gaps in information provision. The progression of the original holder of the Interoperability Focus to a new position has presented an opportunity to "re-model" the advisory service in order to meet these needs.

The service will continue to cover a range of international standards, protocols and metadata specifications, some of which are well-established e.g. Z39.50, and some of which are newer Web Services standards e.g. SRW. The list is based on the standards and specifications implemented within the common information environment but is not exclusively restricted in this way. Other relevant metadata standards such as METS will be included, as will references to digital rights management, terminology services, Web mark-up and accessibility. The list is extensive and continually growing as new standards are developed, ratified by standard-awarding authorities and adopted by the digital library community.

This continual growth presents a challenge in terms of allocating resource effort. In order to make maximum use of the available effort, content created will be organised so that it can be presented in a number of ways tailored to the user community e.g. briefing papers giving contextual descriptions of themed topics with examples and case-studies of how the relevant standards may be embedded in library, cultural heritage, FE and other appropriate contexts, complemented by briefer "fact-sheets", giving more technical details for the developer and practitioner. For example, the themed briefing paper might be entitled "Delivering news channels and alerting services to your user community" which would encompass detail about implementation of RSS and any other similar standards. These will be supplemented by a range of other dissemination channels such as discussion lists, presentations and conference papers.

Outputs from research and development projects such the EC-funded Open Archives Forum, will also be disseminated appropriately to ensure that knowledge gained from these non core-funded activities will be more widely shared with the community. In addition, emphasis will be placed on joining up with key national nodes to ensure that particular community interests are met in the most suitable format e.g. Regional Support Centres for further education, the National e-Science Centre for research staff and the MLA Regional Agencies and mda for the cultural heritage community.

In a new initiative, UKOLN will become the managing agent for the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI) UK Affiliate organisation and act as a central point for disseminating best practice and information related to the Dublin Core. Effort has been specifically allocated for this task.

The e-journal Ariadne will also act as a vehicle for disseminating information about digital library initiatives and good practice and UKOLN will continue to provide editorial, production and hosting for this respected Web publication. This WP also includes the activities of the Events Management Service which encompasses practitioner workshops, seminars and international conference support. The Web site acts as a portal to the UKOLN "knowledge bank" and to other relevant sites through links and hosting agreements. In parallel with the refinements to advisory service outputs, the Web site will be re-engineered to provide a more effective delivery service to the community (see WP 5).

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6.2 Work Package 2 Working with emerging technologies and standards.

WP2 focus is on futures thinking and emerging technologies and standards. The community will be alerted to information about new developments through a mix of public channels such as the Digital Library blog (which is currently an internal pilot), news channels, discussion lists, and presentations. Broader topic areas e.g. Digital Library architectures, will be covered by more in-depth intelligence reports which will be published periodically. The experience of certain development projects will also be useful in this context e.g. a report on "The application of visualisation technologies in the library, information and cultural heritage communities" will be produced and will include experience gained through the EC-funded ARCO project.

UKOLN will provide support to the Information Environment through the core work programme and will work more closely with CETIS in this activity. It is envisaged that joint planning meetings will inform this work.

UKOLN will also participate in the development of certain standards and specifications through membership of advisory, policy and technical committees of standards bodies such as OAI, IMS and DCMI. In this latter case, the activity will be closely linked to the DCMI UK Affiliate managing agent role.

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6.3 Work Package 3 Building pilots, demonstrators and tools.

Advisory services will be informed by practitioner experience and a number of development areas have been identified which will provide opportunities for practical implementation. UKOLN has already developed a number of tools such as DC-dot, RSS-Express and the OpenResolver which can be extended and further developed in new ways. For example, a suite of Web services will be developed to provide conversion tools for metadata, format type and subject terms (in partnership with OCLC). The OpenResolver will be further developed to support other standard metadata schema, other data types and other hosted services.

Once again this core-funded work will be directly informed by research and development projects which embed these tools in their systems e.g. Resource Discovery Network developments. In addition, our experience of registry development e.g. metadata schema registries, will complement this work.

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6.4 Work Package 4 Achieving consensus and knowledge transfer.

UKOLN has good working relationships with many different organisations and views this collaborative approach as key to our continued success. We have also identified opportunities where our expertise can be shared outside the cultural heritage sector and in parallel, we have much to learn from other communities and groups e.g. the e-Science community. Our aim is to identify synergies, gaps and differences in approach between sectors, and to implement appropriate vehicles for sharing expertise; these might be through workshops, identifying common models, producing reports or organising meetings.

We will continue to work closely with the JISC and MLA through a mix of activities, some at the strategic level and some taking a more operational approach. In certain areas, we will concentrate on working jointly with other leading services e.g. in the e-learning area we will work more closely with CETIS and in the e-research field, we will work more closely with the National e-Science Centre.

In the regional context, we will liaise with the Regional Agencies to reach the cultural heritage community and the JISC Regional Support Centres to guide us on support for further education. Other key national organisations and groups include the Common Information Environment Group and the British Library; we will seek to collaborate with the Research Libraries Network upon its inauguration.

We will continue as an integral part of the University of Bath and will contribute to a range of strategic ICT discussions involving the PVCs Research & Learning & Teaching, the Library and other units, and to practical developments where appropriate.

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6.5 Work Package 5 Developing the organisation.

This WP covers our activities which address the development of UKOLN as an organisation and its most important and valued resource: the staff. In addition to the ongoing administrative and financial support processes, we have identified two specific tasks which require some additional effort this year: these are re-engineering the UKOLN Web site and developing a more functional intranet. Together these form the UKOLN knowledge repository which is of great benefit to the community but also serves as an information and communication source for UKOLN staff.

We continue to refine our financial planning procedures and to build flexibility and responsiveness into our business processes. The increase in our institutional costs requires us to seek more diverse income streams which in turn, increases the complexity of the financial management process. This demands a balanced approach and we will continue to work closely with the University Grants & Contracts Office to ensure that systems are streamlined and outputs are timely.

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7. Risk Statement

Risk statement

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8. Supporting Information

8.1 Research & Development projects criteria

UKOLN R&D projects should conform to the following criteria:

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8.2 University of Bath projects criteria.

Service development initiatives carried out in partnership with academic or service departments at the University of Bath and which are not externally funded, should conform to the following criteria:

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8.3 Collection Description Focus Statement 2004-5

CD Focus was established in 2001 as a 1 FTE post. Over the three-year period funding has been received from the RSLP, the JISC, MLA, and the British Library. In the first year the main thrust of the work was on supporting the RSLP projects, in the second year the emphasis moved to working with a cross-domain community, while the third year has concentrated taking forward work on establishing a standard for collection description. While each year has had a different emphasis, throughout the period a programme of events and workshops supporting implementations has formed an integral part of the work. Whilst such events have been successful, they have taken a substantial part of the effort available.

CD Focus work will now be integrated into the UKOLN core programme, linking in with interoperability, DCMI and bibliographic management activity. Past CD Focus work has been valuable, but with no current project initiatives requiring collection descriptions to be created and MLA taking responsibility for the creation of collection descriptions in the public sector, there is not the requirement for the same level of events as in previous years. The work programme will therefore concentrate on maintaining a range of dissemination and support packages. Activities planned are:

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8.4 UKOLN staff at May 2004


LL Liz Lyon

Distributed Systems & Services Team (DS&S)

AP Andy Powell, Team Leader & Assistant Director
PD Pete Dowdell
MB Monica Duke
SK Shirley Keane
GT Greg Tourte
RW Richard Waller
EY Eddie Young

Policy & Advice Team (P&A)

BK Brian Kelly, Team Leader
ADC Ann Chapman
PG Penny Garrod
PJ Pete Johnston
BR Bridget Robinson

Research & Development Team (R&D)

RH Rachel Heery, Team Leader & Assistant Director
MG Marieke Guy
AC Amanda Closier
MD Michael Day
PH Philip Hunter
MP Manjula Patel
RR Rosemary Russell

Resources & Administration Team (R&A)

SC Sally Criddle, Team Leader
RB Ruth Burt
AC Ali Cook
BK Birgit Kongialis
NB Natasha Bishop
SS Sarah Smith
JT Jenny Taylor

8.5 Organisational Structure

Organisation Chart

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Content by: Shirley Keane of UKOLN.
Page last revised on: 25-Jul-2005
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