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Nottingham digital library boost

CLA takes digitisation to next level at Nottingham University library

Posted by Hannah Oakman | July 27, 2016 | Higher education

The University of Nottingham (below) is ranked among the world’s top 1% of universities, with award-winning campuses in the UK, China and Malaysia and a growing global academic community across all three countries. As a public research university, the Nottingham institution has the most extensive library facilities, with inspiring learning environments, a wide-ranging print and electronic collection and a team of knowledgeable staff to support all learning, teaching and research.

The university’s libraries offer a digitisation service, to make its reading materials more accessible to both academics and students. The digitisation service operates under the Copyright Licensing Agency’s (CLA) Higher Education Licence which provides a wide range of permissions to help support teaching and learning and allow the university to make full use of its print and electronic collections.

The CLA HE Licence enables the university to photocopy books, journals and magazines published in the UK and 38 other countries, make digital copies by scanning and producing digital copies of content from material such as online magazines, eBooks and websites.

The challenge

Digitisation is an increasingly important part of the service offered by the university’s library. Since its initial launch, however, the volume of scans and number of requests has increased, placing growing pressure on the facility. 

Vicky Price, Copyright Officer explained: “Over time the number of scans we produce annually has increased steadily. We have been using the PackTracker system to record the scans and to manage the scanning workflow, and the HERON service to ensure that our scans were of a high quality.”

Price continued: ”The main pain points in our existing process were: longer processing times during peak periods; the licence checks, which can be time consuming as you need to check whether the work is in stock and covered by the licence, whether the extent is within limits, and if an electronic alternative may be available instead. The renewal process also takes time: contacting academics to make sure course details are still correct, changing cover sheets where necessary, as well as file management on local servers.”

“In the last year we switched from using HERON to using EHESS (Enhanced Higher Education Supply Service), as this is a more effective use of our time and resources and has made a significant difference to our scan turnaround times. Where we do have to scan in-house it requires more staff time.”

The solution

Since September 2015, Nottingham University has been trialling a brand new solution designed by the CLA, called the Digital Content Store (DCS). A number of universities across the UK have taken part in the project to test the new web-based solution and assist in its development.

Vicky said: “We were approached by the CLA at a pretty opportune time, as we had been reviewing our scanning processes following a restructure. HERON response times were becoming very slow, so we were looking for alternative ways to manage our workflow and the DCS seemed like a good alternative. In addition, we had already done two pilot projects with the CLA, one of which was EHESS, so it seemed like a natural progression to take part in this one.”

The DCS has been designed specifically for librarians, to simplify and speed up the entire digitisation process. The solution can be used in any browser and lists of requests from academics and lecturers can be uploaded to the system and then searched for on the bibliographical database. This includes a series of automated checks, including confirming whether the book or article is included in the CLA repertoire, checking the extent limit and calculating the percentage of the book being used.

The DCS can also connect to the institution’s library management system to determine whether the specific book or journal is held in the library catalogue and check the ownership, which is a requirement of the licence.

Once the relevant automated searches and checks are completed, the user can then attach and upload the content in a PDF file of the chapter or the journal article. This can be done either by making a copy and uploading a scan to the system, or outsourcing the scanning via EHESS so the British Library can scan it from its stock. Alternatively if another university or higher education institution has already uploaded the requested document, then that copy can be used, saving the need to duplicate the scan and upload process.

In terms of local file management, it has definitely improved efficiency. We are no longer archiving large numbers of PDFs ourselves or changing the cover sheet at renewal

At Nottingham University, the DCS means the library facility will no longer be managing its scans locally and laborious tasks, such as changing the cover sheets for changed modules, will be done automatically in the system. During the trial the team has seen a significant reduction in the physical processing of scans.

Pauline Wheeler, from the Library Scanning Service said: “In terms of local file management, it has definitely improved efficiency. We are no longer archiving large numbers of PDFs ourselves or changing the cover sheet at renewal. Compliance checks – checks for permissions and extent problems - are alerted to us, reducing processing time for our team.”

The future

As the system develops, Nottingham University would like the DCS to incorporate a function that allows them to track the progress of in-house scans as well as those being sourced via EHESS. They are also keen to see greater integrations with other library systems, such as the library management system and reading list software, which will enable the DCS to be incorporated within broader library workflows. The team at the library are very confident that the new DCS will play a crucial role in improving efficiencies in the digitisation process in the future.

“When the DCS is integrated with EHESS, it will decrease the time we take to produce the scans. We hope that the Digital Content Store will become an integral part of our scanning workflow. We will be able to produce usage analytics, which will be of value to our academics and us. We also hope that it will allow us to continue streamlining and expanding our service for students.”  

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