CAUL Advisory Committees

CAUL STUDY TOUR 2014 – Days 2 and 3

IFLA and LIBER – Den Haag
Fortunately our meetings with IFLA and LIBER are only a short walk away (at the King’s Bibliotek) as it is a wet and miserable start to the day. We are welcomed by Jennifer Nicholson, Paul Ayres, Susan O’Reilly, Izaskun Lacunza and it was a great surprise to see Ellen Broad (WIPO) was joining us.

A large part of IFLA’s and LIBER’s remit is advocacy and policy development. They actively seek out (from across the globe) exemplars of practice, legislative developments to promote free and open access to information. A primary driver for WIPO is successful lobbying for and adoption and adoption of a binding treaty for international standards for libraries and archives in their management and dissemination of information, recognising the inherent complexities of copyright legislation, licensing and other frameworks. Adding further complexity to this mix is the pressure placed on WIPO by governments, politics and other agencies regarding WIPO’s purpose (protection of intellectual property) and its role in advocacy in supporting/collaborating with organisations such as IFLA and LIBER.

They are extremely proud of their success with the copyright exceptions now applied for the visually impaired.

LIBER’s overarching Strategy for 2013-2015 can be found A key focus activity is on data and text mining. ‘The right to read is the right to mine’ is at the heart of their lobbying and advocacy role to change restrictive licensing conditions applied to how text and data can be mined. Text and data mining are considered standard research practice, even more so in contemporary research, however, many licence conditions prohibit the reproduction and format shifting of subscribed content to enable the use of spiders and crawlers to extract information. The UK is considered a leader through the introduction of an exception to text and data mining (as of 1 June) which will enable the right to reproduce content for research purposes. LIBER is actively lobbying Elsevier via their advocacy with research organisations – building their knowledge and support on these matters.

Discussion also centred on Open Access (OA) and the APCs. Paul Ayres (President LIBER) spoke of the UK perspective on APCs, particularly post Finch. Realisation of just how much Gold OA is going to cost, the Government is seeking reductions in subscription costs. Some success with Springer. At University College London (Paul’s institution) the Library administers APCs on behalf of the College with an annual budget of 2 million pounds. They have created a decision tree (based on pre-determined criteria, coupled with a costing threshold) to determine whether APCs will be supported. Worthwhile looking at JISC’s pilot on APCs

Visiting IFLA and LIBER highlighted the distinct challenges of operating, influencing and negotiating within and across countries. Successful political lobbying in one country does not guarantee consensus or support in the European Commission. Capturing the attention and impotently the critical support of civl servants and politicians requires considerable skill in articulating positions, benefits (economic, social), negotiating and I believe, persistence and tenacity.

Royal Library Copenhagen – The Black Diamond
After a brisk walk in 10c we arrive at the Royal Library/Black Diamond. The building is extraordinary! It is essentially an island on the Sound. The facility houses the national and university libraries. No different to Australasian University Libraries, the emphasis is on ‘E’. There has been particular emphasis on developing their e-collections and they now boast over 1M ebooks. Education is still free in Denmark (as to health care!). The juxtaposition of the original latter centuries library building with the contemporary Black Diamond is striking. Students crowd around wooden desks and chairs with walls lined with rows upon rows of wooden catalogue drawers and shelves filled with ancient indexes and reference materials.At the same time, technology developments include an established 3D printing services with 3D scanning due to be introduced this year.

The national library spoke of their digitisation initiatives. Like us , they too grapple with lack of national funding, copyright restrictions, orphan works etc. While acknowledging the need to digitise priority collections, due to restrictive resources, often it is the easy to digitise (volume, therefor, lower cost) are done first.

Research data management services currently focus on:

  • The provision of repository services
  • Training in data management for PhD students
  • Monitoring best practices, particularly recommendations put forward by LIBER

As such, there is no national strategy for research data management. The Data Document Initiative who’s effort to are to create an international standard for describing data from the social, behavioral, and economic sciences. Expressed in XML, the DDI metadataspecification now supports the entire research data life cycle. DDI metadata accompanies and enables data conceptualization, collection, processing, distribution, discovery, analysis, repurposing, and archiving is used as a platform.

DEFF – Denmarks’ Electronic Research Library
DEFF commences in 1997 with the aim of creating network of research libraries to form a ‘virtual system that transcends the frames of regional /local libraries and makes available the libraries’ collective information resources (digital and traditionall) to users all over the country in a simple, transparent way within the given legal and financial framework’. Commencing with a budget of 27M Euro for 1988-2002, the aim was to establish a knowledge infrastructure to support research and innovation. In 1999, DEFF became the centre for organised consortia building for Danish research libraries. DEFF supports: 7 university, 8 university college, 91 (other academic/special), 11 hospital and 117 high school (gymnasium) libraries.

There 8 focus areas for the next strategic period:

  • Digital manners and learning
  • Data management of research data
  • Digital communication and interaction in connection with research results
  • Digitisation of source materials
  • Consolidation of infrastructure in research libraries
  • Research-nased knowledge to Danish businesses
  • Open access
  • Dissemination of information and knowledge via social media and mobile platforms

From the libraries and organisations visited to date, there are clear connections between the the professional organisations and agencies supporting the strategic agendas of the university libraries.


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CAUL Study Tour: TU Delft and Leiden University

Day 1 CAUL Study Tour 2014 – 26 May

Our first destination was TU Delft. On arrival the cone topped grass hill belies the library that lies beneath. Climbing the ascending shallow stairs we enter a light filled, spacious building with the most amazing blue painted (Meccano Blue) walls holding the suspended book shelves. This building is only 15 years old, and despite being revolutionary for its time, it soon lost favour with its clientele. Like most of us have experienced, just when you think you have the design nailed, it quickly becomes dated in terms of how people want to engage with spaces. Now, after some modifications, numbers of visits and occupancy have reached and continue to overreach previous benchmarks. The library is open 365 days of the year (yes including Christmas and New Year).

The vision and philosophy of the library is captured in the following statement: ‘We let knowledge flow freely because we are convinces that you become more successful if you use other people’s knowledge and share your own’. This mantra pervades every business function, for instance, only full text content is accepted in their repository. Metadata records on their own are excluded. This is why they host 40,000 open access publications, 29,000 photos and videos, 5,600 3TU datasets (all datasets are OA). There are 10 repositories in total with 5 million page views.

The library administers APCs and has a budget of 40K (Euro) per annum to facilitate OA publications. Strict criteria apply. TU Delft library is in the early stages of investigating their role in OA books and they are working to a target of publishing 6-7 books per annum.

Their approach to refreshing learning spaces is heavily instead in design theory. A recent model is premised on the development of ‘personas’ to better understand space, engagement and utilisation requirements over the life cycle of a life long learner. Participants in the research were required to record diaries of how they used their time, energy and resources during academic and personal pursuits. The participants were also asked to envision their future 5 years hence. From here the personas were created to inform the types of spaces that would appeal and deliver optimal learning environments.

To sum up: a vibrant library, open to new ideas, student centred, living centred learning spaces. Funky, while functional. The aim is to have optimal engagement with learning spaces.

Our second destination was Leiden University, the oldest university in the Netherlands. The University itself is spread across a beautiful campus integrated town, which includes the oldest botanical garden in the Netherlands. The surrounds are picture postcard pretty. The main library was opened in 1983 and design was heavily influenced by the concept of shopping malls and you clearly get a sense of the axis that are meant to encourage the flow of traffic throughout the building. Although that was the paper design, in reality it just didn’t work. The priorities since 2005 have been to reinvigorate services, introduce new developments such as specialised research services (e.g. Virtual research environments [using Sharepoint], reassessment of the roles of subject librarians, develop and unlock their special collections. The re-profiling of structures, staff competencies and roles began with earnest with one third of positions released to allow for the introduction of new staff. Alongside this, a 6 year building refurbishment exercise commenced to refresh the shopping mall into learning zones. Interestingly, their equivalent of the Reserve Collection (about 1M items) are on open shelves, but aren’t loaned; whereas their loanable collection is in closed stacks. An interesting retrieval model is in place whereby books are placed in lockers from which the client collects the items while simultaneously loaning the materials. They have in place a university press, of which the University Librarian has stewardship. The model for publication supports both traditional and OA formats as well as paper outputs and print on demand.

Key learnings from today: Culture and vision (two very different cultures supporting aspirations for high performance, although perhaps different priorities pervade); space design and and reinvention is vital to ensure fitness for purpose underscoring learning and research needs; research services, particularly e-research and data management are well advanced.

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CAUL Study Tour 2014 – Pre Tour Excursion

To shake off the jet lag, several of the tour group travelled by train (the Den Haag Station is literally metres from our hotel) to Amsterdam. A perfect day for sightseeing the amazing network of canals, tall, narrow row houses, the canal boats (all 2.5 thousand of them) while dodging thousands of bicycle riders.

Even the train ride perpetuates the stereotypical imaginings we have of the Netherlands with ancient wind mills, bicycle lanes and canals bordering the railway tracks. The communal gardens are in full crop and the summer houses are littered with outdoor furniture occupied by the Dutch sipping long cold drinks on a balmy Spring day.

Tomorrow the tour starts in earnest with TU Delf in the morning and Leiden University in the afternoon. Everything is pointing to a great week ahead!


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