9 December 2009

Digital Developments Working Group Meeting Minutes

1. Welcome, Introductions and Apologies for Absence

Present: John Tuck (Chair – JT), Bethan Adams (BA), Sarah Crofts (SC), Douglas Dodds (DD), John Gilby (JG), Marcus Wolley (MW).

Apologies: Gavin Beattie (GB), Georgina Parsons (GPa), Glyn Price (GPr), Gurdish Sandhu (GS).

Also in attendance was Andrew Amato, M25 Web Services Project Officer.

JT welcomed new group members Bethan Adams from St George’s and Douglas Dodds from the V & A Museum.

2. Previous Meeting

The minutes from previous meeting held on 5 October 2009 were agreed as a true record.

Actions from previous meeting:

  • Action 2.1 JG/AA to carry out further work with usage data, liaising with group members prior to the January 2010 Steering Group meeting – Action continues as part of the InforM25 Review (see below).
  • Action 2.2 JG to obtain more images for the development version of Find-a-library and advertise the service once live – Action ongoing.
  • Action 3.1 – JG had added BA and DD to group’s web pages and JISCmail list – Action complete.
  • Action 4.1 – Programming work on hold pending InforM25 Review – Action superseded.
  • Action 5.1 – JT had drafted and obtained Steering Group approval for the group’s Terms of Reference which were now published on the M25 website – Action complete.

3. M25 Support Team Manager’s Report

JG gave a verbal report which is summarised below with relevant discussions and actions:


Find-a-library and Visit-a-library now have the Horniman Museum added and there have been updates to 21 institutions’ data (out of a total of 58 institutions on InforM25) following the data review during the Autumn. A small amount of Z-server testing has been done recently and data updates added to the ULS.
Action 3.1 JG/JT to chase further responses for updates using the Directors’ Room.

Virtual Server for InforM25

Minimal progress with details of SLA from LSE ITS. Some technical problems with the virtual installation of InforM25 working extremely slowly on occasions but not always, with no discernable cause or resolution. If the current live InforM25 server fails, there are arrangements in place for hosting the live service such that there would be a maximum of a few days of unavailability.
Action 3.2 JG/AA to investigate virtual hosting at Eduserv to get ideas of cost and practicability.

Programming Tasks

These have been put ‘on the back burner’ due to issues with programmer availability and the forthcoming InforM25 Review. The Support Team are not sure of the value in continuing with this work at present. Subject to the move of InforM25 to a virtual server, the development work completed to Find/Visit-a-library can be implemented.


No further news from HEFCE about the grant in spite of regular chasing. For reference, arranged partners for the pilot project are the LSE (Lead site), Greenwich University, Imperial College London, IOE, London Southbank University, LSHTM, Reading and the University of the Creative Arts.

M25 Staff Room

Following on from the Directors’ Room, the M25 Steering Group have approved the development of an “M25 Staff Room” for all M25 library staff. JT is the Project Director for this and the M25 Support Team will carry out the bulk of the work. Volunteers will be sought to define the requirement for the service and also to help in prototype testing.
Action 3.3 JT/JG to send details of project plan to the group for comment  before the next M25 Steering Group meeting in January 2010.

4. Digital Developments Museum Sector: London – Museums/Libraries/Archives activity

DD gave an overview of relevant developments taking place in the V & A Museum and elsewhere outside of the library sector. Key issues included:

  • In recent years, many museums are making efforts to show the full extent of their collections with online databases, e.g. the British Museum and the V & A. Some offer a public API to embed collection searches in external services.
  • Also efforts to digitise objects and make images available online allowing their re-use (with appropriate acknowledgement).
  • There have been some attempts at implementing federated searches of museum databases but with variable results. Data has been harvested for combined services.
  • London Museum Librarians and Archivist Group have agreement with JISC Collections for discounted access to JISC funded databases.

Action 4.1 JG to look at possibility of adding links to Find-a-library entries for online museum collections.

The group also thought of the possibility of some mechanism for exchanging experience with digital developments much like the Consortium has done in the past with disaster management.

5. Review of InforM25

JT introduced this item reminding the group that the original plan to engage external consultants was too costly and the plan was to do the work internally. This was discussed at the M25 Steering Group and it was proposed to use DDWG and Support Team members along with other volunteers from within the Consortium.

JT tabled a paper outlining suggested work packages for the review along with potential owners of the tasks and suggestions from the M25 Support Team. The group had an extended discussion and the following key points were agreed:

  • Create a scope for the InforM25 suite of services, preferably by the end of December. JG, AA, former Support Team staff to draft scope, DDWG to approve ready for submission at the January M25 Steering Group meeting.
  • Add a work package early on about surveying the Consortium regarding web accessibility standards used and what may be appropriate for InforM25.
  • Include a break-point review of work at the next DDWG meeting (24 February 2010) – this would review the desk research on user trends, usage statistics and accessibility.
  • More detailed reviews of the individual services, technology, interoperability, etc., would take place between March and May 2010.
  • Aim for draft report(s) and recommendations to be ready for discussion at the June DDWG meeting, ready for finalisation in time for the July M25 Steering Group meeting.

Action 5.1 JT/JG to compose a query about accessibility best practice and post to the Directors’ Room.

Action 5.2 JT/JG/AA to finalise review brief, distribute to the group and start the work packages.

6. SCONUL/HEFCE Shared Services Steering Group Report

Action 6.1 JT to ask GS for an update to be sent to the group.

7. Horizon Scanning Updates

Following on from offers made at the last meeting, the following sections summarise the updates to the group.

Research Information Network (RIN) http://www.rin.ac.uk/ – SC

From the RIN website – “The Research Information Network is a policy unit funded by the UK higher education funding councils, the seven research councils and the three national libraries.”

A recent report is Overcoming barriers: access to research information report published December 2009. This report deals with difficulties researchers encounter when trying to access information in their institution and other institutions. One of the recommendations from the report relates to resource discovery and interfaces.

An earlier report is Creating catalogues: bibliographic records in a networked world report published June 2009. This report examines the creation and use of bibliographic records for university libraries.  At the moment, there is much duplication of effort and the report recognises the benefits of shared catalogues,

Other RIN reports mentioned at the meeting included: Discovering physical objects: Meeting researchers’ needs (DD) and Patterns of information use and exchange: case studies of researchers in the life sciences (JT).

Eduserv http://www.eduserv.org.uk – SC

From their website: “Eduserv is a not-for-profit IT service organisation.  Our mission is to realise the benefits of IT for learning and research. We are dedicated to developing effective technology solutions that meet the needs of universities and colleges and are of value to the wider public sector.”  As well as negotiating software prices and agreements for the academic community and providing systems for access and identity management, Eduserv’s Research and Innovation department carry out research into the “effective use of ICT” and is probably the area most of interest to the M25 DDWG.

A relevant report is the Investigation into the management of web content in Higher Education Institutions report published July 2009 http://www.eduserv.org.uk/research/studies/wcm2009

Each year Eduserv hold a symposium which is generally very inspiring.  Next year’s event has not yet been announced, but details of past symposia are available athttp://www.eduserv.org.uk/research/symposium

Eduserv also provide web hosting services, as discussed earlier, and there is information on their website about this.

British Library – JT

A new report under the joint BL/JISC three year study “Researchers of Tomorrow” was published in October 2009 “Interim Research Report 1 Summary Report ”

From the report’s executive summary: “This is a Summary Report about the interim findings of the first year of the Researchers of Tomorrow study, which began research in April 2009. Building on the ‘Google Generation’ research, the British Library (BL) and the JISC commissioned this three?year research study into the information?seeking and research behaviour of doctoral students born between 1982 and 1994 – commonly dubbed ‘Generation Y’.”.


JT reported that CIBER with JISC and SCONUL had recently held focus groups to gather information about the impact of the current financial crisis on academic libraries.

8. M25 Websites

JG briefly detailed the three Consortium websites, being for three different purposes:

  • InforM25 (inform25.ac.uk) was for services aimed at library users
  • cpd25 (cpd25.ac.uk) was everything to do with cpd25 training and aimed at (primarily) M25 library staff
  • The M25 business website (m25lib.ac.uk) was more of a document repository for the business of the Consortium consisting of meeting minutes, various groups within the Consortium, governance documents as well as the Directors’ Room.

Following discussion, the group agreed that it was preferable to clearly state who was responsible for content within the websites, who looked after branding and who had overall ownership of the sites. It was suggested that:

  • the Marketing and Communications Working Group and/or the M25 Steering Group should have responsibility for the branding, usability and accessibility across all three websites, subject to any user interface specifics with InforM25.
  • the cpd25 website content should be the overall responsibility of the cpd25 Steering Group
  • the M25 Steering Group should have overall responsibility for the content on the M25 business website
  • DDWG should have overall responsibility for the InforM25 suite of services

The above should be taken to the M25 Steering Group for further discussion and agreement.

9. AOB

There was none.

10. Next Meetings

Next meetings are arranged at the LSE for:
24 February 2010 at 10.30 Note earlier time.

17 June 2010 at 14.00

Minutes by JG