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UCL Library Services e-strategy

Executive summary


1. The vision for UCL Library Services is to harness emerging Communications & Information Technology developments to transform user and staff experiences of using the Library's resources.


2. To underpin the Library strategy; to identify and recommend developments in electronic services and to carry out projects which will enable UCL Library Services to support teaching, learning and research at UCL at the highest level.


3. The UCL Library Services e-strategy forms a component of the Library Strategy which is itself consonant with UCL strategies and policies. Of the latter, most important in the context of the e-strategy are

  • the Information Strategy
  • the Information Technology Strategy
  • the Institutional Learning and Teaching Strategy

4. The e-strategy provides a framework within which the following UCL Library Services strategies operate

Political context

5. As a service Department within a global university, UCL Library Services will benchmark its provision against international comparators.

Economic/market context

6. The availability of online information, especially that provided by global (commercial) providers, poses a challenge for universities and especially university libraries whose purchasing power may not keep in step with market costs.

Social context

7. Previous work and study experiences of the student body are leading to expectations that most if not all learning materials are presented in electronic form, available at the desktop wherever and whenever the student wishes to make use of them.

Technological context

8. Continued and rapid changes in technology must be harnessed where possible to improve the way in which all aspects of UCL Library Services business are carried out.

Key components

9. The e-strategy has 7 major components

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10. All digital services developed or offered by UCL Library Services will comply with appropriate international, national or de facto standards to facilitate sharing of data with other systems and services, within and without UCL.

Resources and resource discovery

11. Library resources used for teaching, learning and research, whether developed at UCL or licenced from external suppliers, will where possible be obtained and where appropriate stored in electronic rather than print-on-paper format.

12. How far and how quickly the move to e-only content can be made depends on a number of factors including confidence in long-term preservation/curation of the electronic product and ensuring access to all library members. Pilot projects/services will inform this process, commencing in January 2007 with cancellation of a small number of print periodical titles and reliance on e-only provision. Developments in external electronic archiving services such as JSTOR http://www.jstor.org and PORTICO http://www.portico.org will be continuously monitored.

13. In view of the expanding range of digitised content available from commercial and non-profit providers, and the resource implications of creating and maintaining a large-scale in-house digitisation suite, creation of digital objects will be focused on materials to support teaching and learning and on rare or unique materials held locally.

14. The type and range of digital content stored will not remain static but currently includes:

15. E-journals
The Library's e-journal strategy states an intention to seek to obtain funding to increase the number of e-journals as requested by library users, including backruns of journals as these are digitised. This funding may come from re-distribution of existing budget allocations and/or by bidding for increased allocations in the annual UCL budgeting process.

16. Core readings
Core readings recommended for UCL taught courses will be by session 2007/08 delivered in electronic format only unless in individual cases over-riding financial or legal (copyright) reasons prevent this. The readings may be

  • articles in e-journals to which UCL Library Services already has access
  • e-books, whether specially obtained or existing resources
  • excerpts digitised by the Library under the CLA Blanket Licence
  • excerpts for which specific reproduction rights must be negotiated for digitisation

17. UCL e-prints repository
The open access repository of UCL's research output will be developed to include all UCL publications submitted to the 2008 RAE exercise; pilot projects will be undertaken to assess the possibility of storing associated primary data and also of storing learning objects produced at UCL.

18. Examination papers
Past UCL examination papers, which are currently digitised by UCL from hard copy, should be supplied in electronic format by UCL Registry.

19. Theses
When UCL takes up its own degree-awarding powers in August 2007, copies of approved research theses should be supplied by the student in digital format to be stored, curated and delivered in an Open Access environment, promoting UCL's postgraduate research internationally.

20. The possibility of digitisation of past theses will be explored in collaboration with other University of London Colleges and in the light of national and international developments such as the JISC/CURL supported EThOS (Electronic Theses Online Service) project and DART-Europe (Digital Access to Research Theses - Europe).

21. UCL Library Services will continue to acquire and store paper copies of theses only until the curation and preservation methodology of our digital assets is proven.

22. UCL LS Special Collections Digital Archive
This showcase will be expanded to increase the range of images available for research and teaching.

23. UCL Special Collections
An archive management system will be procured to catalogue and expose via the internet the rich resources held in UCL Library Services Special Collections.

24. Resource discovery
UCL Library Services will work towards development of a single interface to all e-content owned by UCL Library Services and academic Departments with whom the Library is working in partnership. This development will be facilitated by adoption of open standards wherever possible, allowing metadata to be harvested, indexed and presented to the enquirer via a Google-like interface.

25. UCL Library Services will also continue to work to increase the integration of its resources with the wider network environment, for instance by contributing to shared catalogues, and, where appropriate, by ensuring that data describing its resources are discoverable through search engines and other applications.

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26. Digital content will be delivered via the WorldWideWeb; the academic value of materials not available via a web interface must be compelling if such material is requested for acquisition/licensing.

27. The preferred mechanism of delivery is via the UCL Managed Desktop to UCL staff and students.

28. Increasing ownership of personal computers/internet access by staff and students, and increasing preference for off-campus and/or out-of-hours working, means that it is no longer necessary to rely exclusively on technologies offered by the Managed Desktop.

29. The challenges of delivering multimedia resources via the Managed Service will be explored in conjunction with UCL Information Systems. These challenges are cultural as well as technical and will require roles and responsibilities to be defined.

30. Where possible use will be made of the UCL VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) as a delivery mechanism of materials to support learning and teaching, both as an integral part of UCL Departmental course offerings and also via UCL LS's own VLE courses, building on the existing WISE (WebCT Information Skills Environment) modules.

31. It will be necessary to keep a technology watch on developments in computing hardware, especially personal computing devices, and enhance or redevelop services to exploit future technologies.

32. Within library buildings, provision of UCL's RoamNet wireless networking will be introduced on all sites by session 2007/08. As reading rooms are refurbished, data and power cabling to desks will be installed in areas where internet access by UCL library users with their own computers is expected to be intensive.

33. Access to UCL Library Services licenced electronic resources for library members who are not members of UCL will be provided from dedicated workstations on all library sites. Such workstations will be in place in all library buildings by January 2007.

Access management

34. User authentication to locally and remotely stored resources will be where possible via UCL computing userid and password.

35. Gateways will be maintained and further developed to externally hosted resources. By June 2008 UCL will be using the JISC-supported UK Access Management Federation for Education and Research, with its underlying Shibboleth technology, to manage access to externally hosted resources.

36. Locally hosted services such as MetaLib and eUCLid (self-service access to library borrowing functionality) will be made Shibboleth-compatible enabling the UCL computing ID to be used for authentication. Separate barcode/PIN access to eUCLid will be maintained for non-UCL library members.

37. UCL Library Services staff will contribute their expertise to discussions and developments on identity management taking place within UCL.

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Digital curation

38. UCL Library Services is committed to the responsible, long-term stewardship of all its digital assets, whether born-digital or created through digitisation activity.

39. A Digital Curation Manager has been appointed to support the delivery of the UCL Library Services e-strategy. The Digital Curation Manager will help to ensure the adoption of appropriate standards and best practice in the management of the Library's digital assets throughout the full digital life-cycle.

40. There is a growing recognition in the UK HE sector that digital preservation is an unresolved challenge which requires investment. UCL Library Services will produce a digital preservation strategy, which will ensure that the e-content which it manages (including, where appropriate, third party content) is accessible to its users for as long as, and in the formats in which it is required.

41. UCL Library Services will also work to embed good practice in digital asset management in the wider institutional context. A Digital Curation Working Party, with representation from stakeholders across UCL, will be established.

42. The UCL Library Services Digital Curation Team will be proactive in seeking external project funding and collaborations, including collaborations with other UCL Departments, to drive forward the Digital Curation Agenda.

Relationships and partnerships

43. In order to maintain and develop systems and services, UCL Library Services will continue to work in partnership with UCL corporate support departments such as UCL Information Systems, UCL Management Systems and UCL Museums and Collections.

44. Formal meetings of senior managers will take place on a regular basis to allow collaborative services to be explored and scoped and to enable the library's plans and requirements to be discussed.

45 Staff of the Library's IT Services Group will liaise on a day to day basis with technical colleagues in corporate support departments.

46. Subject liaison and site librarians will build on existing relationships with academic Departments to ensure that digital library resources are incorporated into teaching and learning programmes, especially but not exclusively those delivered via the VLE.

47. UCL Library Services will continue to work in partnership with its external system suppliers, principally Ex Libris Ltd, jointly to develop cohesive systems which allow synergies between individual products to be exploited.

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Information literacy

48. UCL Library Services believes that some degree of mastery of the information landscape is essential if resources, especially those in digital format, are to be exploited to their full potential in the context of UCL's teaching, learning and research activity.

49. This mastery includes not simply the mechanics of IT use but an appreciation of the wider legal and ethical issues that apply to the use of information resources; the need for meticulous and accurate recording of resources used in research and the ability to be critical and evaluative of these resources.

50. UCL Library Service is aware that many students joining UCL have a high degree of IT competence but that this is often not matched by their level of information literacy. UCL Library Services will therefore expand its existing information literacy programmes, working with academic colleagues to determine a bespoke information skills curriculum for each student cohort. These programmes will be delivered via the WISE WebCT courses.

Business processes

51. For office and administrative functions, Library staff will use the applications delivered via the Managed UCL desktop.

52. UCL Library Services will review its internal business processes to ensure that it is recording the most appropriate information in the most efficient way.

53. The Aleph Library Management System will continue to be used as a tool for recording and placing orders for library materials; these processes will take place electronically wherever suppliers are able to comply.

54. Management information software, the Aleph Reporting Centre, will be deployed to enable high quality reports to be generated on all areas of library activity administered through Aleph.

55. UCL Library Services will move to use of UCL's Financial Information System (FIS); this will necessitate exchange of data electronically between Aleph and FIS. UCL Library Services will work with colleagues from UCL Management Systems and UCL Finance to develop robust data transfer mechanisms.

56. UCL Library Services will maintain and develop automated data exchange routines with UCL Registry, UCL Human Resources and UCL Access Systems databases to ensure integrity of membership data held locally. Membership information for non-members of UCL will be recorded on the central Aleph database.

57. New technology such as RFID will be harnessed to introduce self-issue of library materials and to permit redeployment of some customer-facing staff to support learning and teaching initiatives elsewhere within the Library.

This document will be reviewed annually.

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Last modified 19 March 2007

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