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Time to stop kicking the can down the road?
Why the problem with licences might not be the
problem with licences
Monday 13th July 2015
Head of Library Services
“This planet has – or rather had – a problem, which was this: most of
the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much of the time. Many
solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were
largely concerned with the movements of small green pieces of paper,
which is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of
paper that were unhappy.”
From The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams (1979)
“This planet library has – or rather had – a problem, which was this:
most of the people living on librarians working in it were unhappy for
pretty much of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this
problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movements
management of small green pieces of paper e resource licences, which
is odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper e
resource licences that were unhappy.”
1894 (Rutherford College of Technology)
32,000 students from over 130 countries
Tripled research power in REF2014
560 employer-sponsored courses and 60 programmes accredited by
Extensive partnerships in the UK and worldwide
Part of super-converged Academic Services directorate
Three sites across two campuses
24/7 and Customer Service Excellence (CSE)
2nd highest scoring in the UK - THE Student Experience survey
Single Academic Services frontline – ‘Ask4Help’
Northumbria’s digital library
Digital rich infrastructure and service catalogue:
– 2,000 study spaces, 900 workstations and 250 self-service laptops
– Online skills and literacy – ‘Skills Plus’
– RFID self-service and NFC ebooks
– Summon for unified discovery (since 2009)
– Digital reading lists and content
– Institutional repository, OA, publishing platform (OJS)
– Bibliometrics service
Online Library Collection:
– Approx. 700,000 ebooks (550,000 print)
– Growing ‘on demand’ services, DDA ebooks embedded in ILL as well as discovery
– 38,000 ejournals (1,000 print – members of UKRR)
JISC projects - OA Pathfinder and ORCID pilot
Digital First approach – emphasising connectivity, digital literacy,
and the customer
Licence management at Northumbria
350 licences for e resources, local MS Access database
Authentication via Shibboleth and virtual desktop
Heavily used discovery and access services
Experiencing increase in scholarly reading
Most significant licence challenge is extending off-campus access
beyond authorised user, i.e.
– Wider student lifecycle – pre-entry and alumni
– Collaborative partnerships in the UK and overseas – validated students
Currently hitting my desk
– 2 international partners
– 5+ UK partners
– Issues with alumni access
– Several other ‘miscellaneous’
Reflections on progress since 2010…
Thorny issues at the JIBS workshop ‘Where now for resource
Significant progress since, e.g. JISC
– Ongoing development of model licences
– JISC decision tool
– ONIX and KB+
Thorny issues remain – JIBS workshop ‘Licensed to death?’ 2014
Different and evolving HEI business models
Doing more for less – manual back-office not attractive
Successful licence negotiation for extended access doesn’t
necessarily enable delivery – e.g. rights but no channel
Library still becomes visible when something stops working or
provisioning access is difficult
Prevailing perception that academic libraries should either be more
like the current and anticipated generation of streaming and on
demand media services, e.g. Netflix or Spotify
..or, that the existence of these commercial services combined with
perception that there is nothing unique behind publisher paywalls,
demonstrates libraries have had there day when it comes to content
But these business models don’t apply, i.e. end-user can’t pay and
cost shouldn’t reflect usage (who wants to limit scholarly reading?)
Libraries and the wider knowledge community have achieved more
than is perceived, e.g. international standards, automation, self-
service… However, ‘access’ has never really been solved since
transition from print to e
Principles for content delivery in HE?
Free at point of need
Customer chooses format
Maximum usage is desirable
Seamless – workflows, SSO
Must provide value for money, and ensure financial sustainability
Multi-channel and sourcing is a necessity
Balance JIT v. JIC
Inter Library Loan and document delivery are as important as ever
Should the principles we set out for acquiring content should reflect
the principles we adopt for supporting Open Access?
Technology characterised by extreme opportunities and challenges
Superficially attractive – anytime, anywhere
Growing ubiquity of devices – bridging digital divide?
User as product, hidden costs, privacy issues, platform wars
Devices and apps in the educational context
– How does the level of personalisation translate to institutional delivery?
– Silos of content and activity
– Poor fit with existing infrastructure, e.g. federated access
Most promising content apps third party?
– e.g. BrowZine
User experience – digital sampling versus immersive reading
Is there content that fits the mobile channel?
– Granularity versus scholarly tradition
– Re-use and machine readability
Mobile at Northumbria
Increasing range of services and channels geared to mobile across
University, e.g. campusM, SafeZone
Responsive and mobile-friendly library platform (Springshare)
Digital – connectivity, e.g. NFC and ebooks – where a moment of
truth converges with a point of need
Potential of mobile digital wallet for cashless payment
Digital Literacy is a driver – encouraging and supporting students
rather than just responding to perceived need
On-campus experience still part of core offer
Customer insight and focus
How do we really know what students and Faculty really want?
– Trends and market data
– Feedback and engagement at institution and national level
– Observing behaviour and analysing activity
Relationship between Millennials and mobile technology appears
How does perception compare with reality?
– Is ownership equivalent to usage? Do students want a single channel of access, i.e. mobile?
Most frequent student feedback – space then content.
Behaviour – students currently:
– Use multiple devices, screens, and print simultaneously. And use their mobiles to photograph the evidence!
– Use mobiles to access online services but mostly use desktops – according to analytics. Separating
business v. pleasure?
– Use and share big screens when working in groups, either for social or collaborative learning.
– Want more space for reading. Immersive reading of print as well as digital sampling.
Understand direction of travel but also nuance. Necessity v.
Identity and access
Libraries downstream in ESA and IAM
Can’t designate status and attributes
Internal challenge to create appropriate governance, policy, and
Are we aware of all our affiliates?
International standards but no standard implementation?
Complex and hybrid environment for SSO (see NISO ESPReSSO)
Shibboleth rarely fully exploited – too late? Still chicken and egg
between SP and IdP?
Rapidly evolving commercial and personal systems – ‘BYOI’
Value of learning analytics versus user experience versus privacy
Mobile exacerbates these issues
Final thoughts #1
Need to be strategic. Change will happen. Continue national
conversation, e.g. via JISC’s manifesto for mobile.
Mobile is ‘as well as’ not ‘instead of’ – yet.
When you think mobile, also think digital. This means digital literacy
as well as connectivity.
Design with and in response to students. What they tell us, and how
they are behaving. Not just market trends and technocratic
solutionism or fads. Academic libraries should support institution’s
Final thoughts #2
Could – should – content delivery become unified?
Are licences that allow content delivery via third party apps for
mobile possible across the board? Do we need to find new
approaches on usage data to enable this? Recent experience with
PDA suggests it will be a bumpy road ahead.
Licences will continue to be key but copyright law will continue to
develop in response to digital.
We need to factor mobile into content we licence directly or through
advocacy, e.g. Open Access, Library as publisher, not just content
To go mobile and solve long-running challenges we will need new
approaches to identify management and authentication.