Report on JUSP, KB+ and Intota Assessment

Last year we blogged about an internal report we did on our assessment of JUSP, KB+ and Intota Assessment. At the time we shared the report with the 3 resources and have already seen a number of recommendations being adopted.

We thought that the report might be useful for other universities looking at how best to use the 3 resources in conjunction, our view is that with a little development all 3 are essential to our workflows 🙂

For more information, here is the Report

Reporting back!

After a busy month of disseminating our findings from the project at conferences and taking note of the ideas and feedback delegates had to offer, we thought it would useful to report back via the blog to stimulate further thoughts from you!

Briony and I presented at the National Acquisitions Group annual conference which was held at York on 4th and 5th September and at the Northern Collaboration conference on 13th September at the University of Huddersfield. In both sessions we started by presenting an overview of the project – the presentation for both these conferences can be found here.

We then split the delegates into groups and encouraged discussions around identifying pressure points in current workflows and considering how interoperability with other systems and co-operation with suppliers could create efficiencies. At the NAG conference we also had time for the groups to have a discussion about cultural change, we asked the delegates to think about the sorts of concerns staff might have concerning the implementation of a new library services platform, and to come up with different ways to manage these concerns.

Here are their thoughts:

Northern Collaboration - one group considered all the systems that would need to be intergrated with a new system-1 Northern Collaboration - one group looked at the challenges that must be considered when choosing and implementing a new system - 1 Northern Collaboration - one group list all the systems they felt a new library services platform would need to link with Northern Collaboration - one group considered which system interoperability was essential and preferable NAG - one group looked at the concerns staff might have when change from the LMS -1 Northern Collaboration - one group considered the systems were they though interoperability was essential - 1 NAG - thoughts on lack of interoperability 1 NAG - one group focused on cultural change and how to deal with it - 1 NAG - thoughts from one group on interoperability and cultural change - 1

HIKE Project report

Earlier in the summer we launched the final project report

Devenney, Amy and Stone, Graham (2013) HIKE Report: to evaluate the suitability of Intota and KB+ for the UK higher education marketplace. Project Report

CoverIf you don’t have time to read the full report, there is also a handy executive summary for you to look at 🙂

Both are available at: //

We would love to hear your views, so please leave a comment for us!

Ideal Workflows

Following the end of the HIKE project Huddersfield committed to completely embedding KB+ in to the journals and e-resources processes, and to consider moving towards a library services platform as a replacement to the LMS. To achieve these aims it was recognised that a significant re-engineering of our workflows would need to take place. As a starting point we have attempted to produce a number of ideal workflows and identify the factors upon which these workflows would be dependent.

Selection of a new e-journal

The main alteration to current workflows would need to be around the journals and/or articles on reading lists. We would need academic staff to maintain accurate and up to date reading lists for their modules in order for Intota to run a report. Ideally this report would identify any journals which are on a reading list but are not currently held by the library. For this workflow to be successful it would also require the development of various API’s within Intota to allow interoperability with subscription agents, publishers and University financial systems.

Ideal workflow - selection of a new journal title

Renewal of a journal

When analysing the current workflow for renewing a journal it became clear that the main area in which efficiencies could be made was at the data gathering stage and it was thought that the development of an API in Intota to pull this information from KB+ would be beneficial. This workflow would also benefit from development in the ordering and payment process through Intota and the University financial system.

Ideal workflow - renewal of a Journal

Electronic PDA

This workflow almost completely automates the setting up of electronic PDA and requires very little input from the team. It also significantly reduces the amount of time required to set up electronic PDA as it removes the task of uploading and removing MARC records to the catalogue. If this workflow were to be realised the only input that would be needed from the institution would be a discussion and decision on which subject areas/class numbers to include in the PDA.

Ideal workflow - electronic PDA

Reading Lists

Like the ideal workflow for the selection of a new e-journal this workflow is dependent on accurate reading lists being supplied in a timely manner and being maintained throughout the year by academics. We hope to be able to use a combination of in-house formulas and subject team expertise to govern the number of the books identified on reading lists that should be purchased. Student numbers on course modules would be provided by the student information system (SITS Vision) e.g.:

If an ebook is marked as essential reading buy 1 copy for every 25 students on the module but for a print copy buy 1 copy for every 10 students.

We believe that a significant proportion of the book budget will be spent through this acquisition method, therefore it is crucial that we get this right and consider all aspects of the workflow to identify and resolve any issues that may arise.

Ideal workflow - resources on Reading lists

Selection by academics/librarians

After the reading list and PDA spend, the remaining book budget would come from selection. However this process could be significantly streamlined using Intota and web forms.

Ideal workflow - academic or subject team suggestions

JISC HIKE Project Workshop – 26th February

Dave Pattern opened the workshop with a welcome to all the participants over coffee before introducing Jane Burke from Serial Solutions. Jane presented an overview of Intota to the workshop, she began by discussing how recent changes in the format of the library’s collections, such as the move to a predominantly e-based collection, the subsequent revision of the acquisitions, the increased purchase of packages over individual titles, have meant that we are now using yesterday’s systems and tools to do today’s jobs. With the old LMS’s and their corresponding workflows designed around the acquisition, maintenance and discovery of print material the move towards e-resources means that they are increasingly not fit for purpose. Jane then moved on to give an update on the development of Intota announcing that they hope to have the Assessment module ready for customers in 2013 and the complete release of the full availability of Intota in 2014. She finished by giving a demonstration of the proposed workflow of acquiring a resource.

Damyanti Patel from JISC Collections then spoke to the workshop about KB+. She open with a discussion about the rationale behind KB+ and how it developed out of a recognition of the need for accurate data and subscription lists and a realisation that every Journals Librarian across the UK was duplicating work as they were all trying to maintain an accurate list. She then moved on to provide an update of the subscriptions that are currently on KB+, the team started by populating the site with Nesli2 collections but have quickly moved on to looking at non-Jisc and non-Nesli2 collections. Damyanti then finished by talking about the future of KB+, how they are hoping to add historical data to the site, work with international partners, improve integration with other systems such as ELCAT, JUSP and 360, and also expand KB+ to cover ebooks.

Damyanti has blogged about her day here:

Dave Pattern and Graham Stone then presented an overview and update on the HIKE project –

The afternoon session was focused around the discussion of three main areas: workflows, cultural change and API’s and interoperability. Having done a lot of work around these areas for Huddersfield we interested to see if other institutions were experiencing the same issues or if they were having different issues what these were so we could factor them into our evaluation.


The intended outcome of this discussion was that the HIKE team would understand other institutions workflows, their pain areas where they felt efficiencies could be made and how the new systems of KB+ and Intota could help them.

Integration between the Library Management System, Reading List Software and Registry

This was raised by a number of different institutions as an area where they felt efficiencies could be made. At the moment many of the LMS’s have no integration with their reading list software, registry or book suppliers, therefore staff have to manually check the reading lists before placing an order with the supplier.

The University of Leicester reported basic integration between their LMS, reading list software (Talis Aspire) and book supplier (Coutts). Here academics create or edit their reading lists on Apsire, which creates a link between the reading list item and catalogue record as the list is being created using Z39.50. These lists are then reviewed by the Librarians who make the purchasing decisions, using a link on Talis Aspire the Librarians can link directly through to Coutts Oasis to place their order. Orders are then loaded overnight on to their LMS Sirsi-Dynix Symphony via EDI. Although this integration developed by Talis has helped reduced the amount of time spent checking the reading lists and inputting the book orders manually, staff are increasingly hoping for a completely automated process. It was agreed that ideally the reading lists created by the Academics with items marked either essential or suggested would, with the information about the number of students enrolled on the module from Registry, generate automatic orders based on a formula designed by the Librarians. The orders would not only go direct to the supplier but would also create an order record within the LMS so it would be possible to identify items that were on order.

During this discussion a few points were raised that must be considered when developing or implementing this integrated and automated process. Firstly this process would not take into account any cross-over between subjects such as English and History, or Maths and Physics were traditionally students have shared books. This could result in a large number of surplus books. Secondly this automated process of procurement would need to be considered when developing the integration between Intota and a financial system.

 Other systems

Many of the delegates raised the lack of interoperability between the LMS and a wide variety of systems as a particular pain point. These included all of the above and also subscription agents, publishers and email. One major problem was the inability to record information – of course this is something that KB+ is offering.

The lack of interoperability has led some to by-pass the LMS completely.

Knowledge Base +

An issue raised regarding KB+ was that is was not yet embedded into current workflows – this could cause a problem even if libraries subscribed – if it is not part of the workflow it won’t get used. This is something for HIKE to consider when looking ‘dream workflow’.

A point was also raised regarding the amount of human intervention in the current workflows, and whether KB+ could offer rules to put into place to improve efficiencies and prevent human error.


Another area where it was agreed that duplication of work and the risk of error could be reduced was within the financial workflows. Like us the majority of the institutions duplicate all their financial accounting in the LMS and their institutions financial management system and have the same problems that we have outlined in earlier posts. It was agreed that interoperability between Intota and the financial system is highly sought after. Again a number of points were raised that would need to be considered when developing and implementing the integration between Intota and the financial system. These were how would the system deal with:

  • the top slicing of budgets which frequently occur in Libraries
  • the split responsibilities of different subject areas between different Librarians; and
  • the subscription to multi-year deals and the commitment of money through the years.

Acquisitions workflow

One of the issues raised when looking at the acquisitions workflows was that there was a marked difference between supplier databases and that there was an on-going out of print books problem.

It was also suggested that in the next national book contracts that technology needs to be a driver for choosing the contracts and that more attention needs to be paid to workflows, it was suggested that with Intota, EDI might be surplus to requirements!

Finally, nobody had a solution for the back office pain of dealing with the huge files involved with PDA.

Cultural Change

Throughout this project we have been aware that the implementation of either or both KB+ and Intota would lead to significant cultural change, and if the implementation of these systems were to be successful how this change is managed would be important. Therefore the theme of our second discussion was cultural change – we were interested in finding out what issues delegates thought their colleagues may have about the change and how these changes could be managed.

One of the main concerns people felt their colleagues would have was that the automation of many of the processes that make up their job would led to their de-skilling, loss of knowledge and less interesting jobs. Others thought that colleagues would be unsettled by the change in responsibilities and tasks as it may require additional training and the learning of new skills. Other factors that would contribute to colleagues feeling unsettled and anxious about such changes are the changes in routine, the lack of control and the feeling of incompetence.

After identifying the factors that could cause worry and apprehension regarding the implementation of these new systems we moved on to discuss how such a change could be managed to alleviate many of these concerns and for the system to be introduced successfully. Everyone agreed that the most important contribution to change management was to ensure that everyone was comfortable with the change and that staff at all levels have the relevant information, are fully involved and actively participating from the beginning.

It was felt that this could be enabled through a series of workshops which members of staff could come to and identify for themselves where there is duplication, a high risk of error and the points of pain in the old system and then help to define how the new system would bring benefits. It was felt that such a workshop would only work if an environment was created where staff would feel comfortable to come forward and express their concerns and anxieties about the new systems without being criticised or judged – staff need the opportunity to moan. One suggestion at this point was the use of an external moderator for such workshops? It was also suggested that these workshops should be continued after the implementation and evolve in to a user group were staff regularly evaluate the system and provides feedback to the company about possible developments. Staff need to understand the journey and help to identify the skills gaps.

It was suggested that we need to evolve people into new jobs. One way of offering reassurance to staff would be to show how the time that had become free through the automation of process would be used, it was suggested that this was not just giving staff mundane tasks but about giving them the opportunity to develop themselves through the participation in projects, etc. and to show how this would benefit the library. The timing of the installation of a new system was also believed to play an important part in how the change is perceived by staff. While implementation at the busiest period of the year was not recommended it was thought that it should be during a moderately busy period in order to demonstrate the effectiveness and benefits of the new system.

However, one group wondered to what extent have we already moved towards change anyway? At least two universities present have gone down the route of having a single team that swaps tasks, and others were thinking about doing the same thing. This was also linked back to the discussion on workflows – a possibility is that we could adopt one workflow for all resources – would this lead to one team, or would this spread things out too thinly? Do we still need experts in certain areas?

Another useful point was that many ‘back room’ teams have been dealing with change for some time – the biggest impact may actually be on the subject teams as their role may change, e.g. PDA vs. subject librarians orders. It was felt the these teams need to be engaged from the outset as there is a clear tension between the need to do more outreach work and ordering resources at granular level.

It was also pointed out that we live in a constantly changing and developing world and it is important that institutions and workflows have enough flexibility to be able to constantly enact change to keep in-line with these developments. Therefore it is important that using all the ideas above we can create an environment that is safe, comfortable and open to change. Intota is part of a suite of changes and it is our responsibility to adapt to them.

Finally it was argued that things take time and we have learnt many lessons already from our implementations of Summon. However, if we don’t make our processes more efficient it’s only a matter of time before somebody else does!


In the final session of the day, groups attempted to come up with lists of APIs and stuff they wish they had – or would want in a new system:

  • To talk to the financial system
  • Less duplication of effort – we are always trying to reconcile things
  • A wish list system
  • A way of reporting problems to all systems without having to re-write the same query three times
  • To be intelligent about students, e.g. on placement – linking student records to the student information system
  • An integrated VLE
  • Integration with every operating system in the University!
  • Active directory – smartcards etc.
  • Integrated with reading lists
  • RFID – Can we GPS track the orders
  • Notification of reservations
  • Could we give more information than just ‘on order’ or ‘reserved’  – e.g. use supply times from vendors to say when an item is expected?
  • Integrated ILL – not just with the British Library, but other local libraries too
  • Ethos!!!

Some thoughts on what we don’t want!

  • FTP
  • EDI
  • Imports and exports
  • Student records in the LMS – no duplication of data!
  • Single point of failure, e.g. staff who own important pieces of information

However, before we got too carried away, we also thought that removing the library catalogue completely might be a step to far for some – back to evolving our users/staff needs through cultural change.

With thanks to all who attended the HIKE workshop for their invaluable thoughts and feedback!

Library Management Systems and Interoperability with other University Systems – Financial

Recent literature from the Information Management world demonstrates the increasing desire and need for the integration of Library Management Systems with other systems within a Higher Education Institution. Not only would such integration bring greater efficiency to workflows but it would also provide a better user experience for the student. For example, currently after paying a large fine, which has prohibited a student from borrowing resources their borrowing rights are not immediately nor automatically restored, instead the restoration of rights is reliant on an email between the Finance department and the library, a process which is open to error and delay. Despite this obvious and essential requirement for a next generation library and web-scale management system very little literature has focused on such integration and the benefits it would bring. The work that has appeared tends to focus on the elements of integration that provide an improved front end customer experience. For example, an article in the Spring 2010 issue of Panlibus looked at how the University of Plymouth has implemented ePayments in order to provide a better service to users. Rather than being restricted to payment at the Library counter during staffed hours, users can now view their accounts and pay any outstanding debts at any time and from anywhere.[1] For a similar reason the University of Wolverhampton also implemented ePayments.[2] While the need for integration between the two systems with the aim of efficiency and accuracy during the procurement process of resources has been recognised, very little research has been done. In 2009 Leeds Library and Information Service sought to link the electronic invoices in the library system to the financial system and Steve Kettle, Modernising Services Manager at Leicestershire Libraries, has outlined the inefficiencies with their payment process.[3]

Problems of existing systems and lack of integration

The main criticism of the lack of integration between the two systems is the necessity to manually key-in the data and receive items on both systems to ensure that both have a record of the lifecycle of the resource. Not only does this take time but it also increases the risk of error. Another concern about the absence of interoperability is that it results in the inability to report on spend and plan budgets accurately. Although the same data is input into both systems, mistakes whilst inputting the data could potentially mean the figures in the two systems do not match. If this was the case, which figure is the correct one? If there is a risk of inaccuracies and a doubling of the workload why do we use the two systems to account the same information? Why do we not focus on inputting the details into the one system?

Agresso is the financial system used at the University of Huddersfield, and by 135 other Higher Education Institutions, and is used by the financial department to oversee all transactions, save all relevant paperwork and prepare for any audits. With such a centralised system it would be impossible for us to move all our financial information for resources to the Library Management System. Horizon is also unable to support the recording of financial transactions to the level of detail that is required by the University auditors. Furthermore, Agresso is able to offer additional features, such as the ability to report on purchases broken down by supplier and period and the ability to split payments between nominal and cost centre, which are useful for financial analysis. However, despite the features offered by Agresso we still need to retain the financial information in Horizon because it offers the ability to be able to split the book budget to a more detailed level, such as subject fund codes, than is currently offered by Agresso. The resources are also ordered on Horizon through integration with the book suppliers database therefore if we were to move all the transactions to Agresso we would not have records of the complete lifecycle of the resource nor any information to use for any enquiries that may arise later.

Another issue that would need to be considered is the method of payment. At Huddersfield we currently pay for all our books by credit card and all the big electronic resource by BAC’s, therefore when looking at interoperability between the two systems it is important that they account and carry out an automated process for both payment methods.

Why such interoperability is needed?

Interoperability between the two systems, the LMS and HE financial system, is desirable as it would save duplication of effort, and it would provide more accurate figures for reporting, managing budget spend and planning budgets. The funding cuts in the UK HE have had a huge impact on staffing and resource budgets ensuring that staff time is at a premium and the usage of resources are closely monitored. Therefore the interoperability which would reduce the amount of staff time inputting data and would allow the resource budgets to be closely and accurately observed would be desirable.

What is currently available?

It appears as though the only product that is currently available that will facilitate the integration of an LMS with other systems is Capita Libraries Keystone. This software allows the sharing of data from the LMS with other systems within the University. For example, it can pass the invoice details from the LMS to the financial system or it could embed library account information in to VLE’s or portals. While Capita is definitely a step in the right direction there are still issues with the interoperability that it allows between the two systems. The movement of data between the two systems occurs overnight as a script is run to update the systems, this results in a delay between the receiving of an item and the actioning of the payment of the invoice.  Ideally we would like this to be near instantaneous so that our budgets are accurate and up to date. Additionally the integration between the LMS and financial system only works for book invoices as it is based on EDI invoices, so the integration is not possible for Journals or Standing Order invoices without introducing EDI invoicing which is not currently possible.

Therefore we are a long way from achieving complete interoperability between the two systems. We would ideally like to see Intota achieve this interoperability which would allow financial information to be passed between the two systems, for the updates to be done in real time and for overviews of the budgets to be available in Intota from the financial system for Librarians to be able to budget and plan accordingly.

With thanks to colleagues at University of Central Lancashire for their help with this post!

[1] Electonic payments Panlibus Spring 2010, p.20.

[2] Integration made easy Panlibus Spring 2009, p. 22.

[3] Integration made easy Panlibus Spring 2009, p. 22.

KB+ Community Advisory Group Meeting – 11th February 2013

We were recently invited to attend the KB+ Community Advisory Group meeting to present an update on the findings and outcomes of the HIKE project. The meeting opened with an update from Liam Earney on the KB+ project about the new features of the recent release before moving on to discuss the international interest; the subscription and sustainability of KB+: and finally the transfer of data between KB+ and third parties.

New features of the recent release

The main focus of the recent release was on improving the experience of the end user. A major development was with the permissions and roles which allows the subscribing organisation to limit the rights available to each user and to hide licences from the community or to make them public. Huddersfield felt that this development would be particularly useful as it is envisaged that two groups of staff would use KB+: the Librarians for enquiry purposes, who could be given ‘Read-only’ access, and the Electronic Resources team, who with the role of ‘Editor’, could have access to the data and be able to amend and add necessary information.

They have also added more information to the individual journal titles. Rather than only being given a host link, as in previous releases, it is now possible to drill down and find out information relating to that title such as the format of the core title, other packages the title is included in and the TIPP. The main feature of this release was the renewals function which aims to facilitate the renewals process undertaken yearly by the Journals team (for more information on this please see our previous blog post ‘KB+ and the renewals process‘).

Liam then moved on to say that the next development phase would be between March and August which will form the base of the next release.

International Interest

The KB+ project has recently received a lot of interest from International parties such as France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, USA, China and Canada. Although up until now the team have been unable to follow up on this interest  as they have had a tight timescale and they did not have anything substantial to offer the interested parties, they recently met up to initiate a possible collaboration. After establishing their shared interests, predominantly the hope that a combined effort to improve the quality of data from the publishers would yield some results, the team agreed to demo KB+ for the interested parties and to perform an audit of those interested before starting to share data.

Subscription and sustainability of KB+

Liam announced that it is probable that from the 1st August KB+ will be a subscription-based resource, whose pricing will be based on JISC bandings. Therefore during the next couple of months the team will be visiting institutions who are engaging with KB+ to ensure that they are comfortable with the product. JISC Collections are currently offering a 20% discount to those institutions who sign up before the end of May and a 10% discount to those who sign before the end of July. A member of the group raised the question of what would happen to the data of those institutions which had populated the resource while it was free but were now unable to afford the subscription. Liam confirmed that the team would be happy to support the extraction of the data and for the account to remain dormant with the data still there in case the institution at some point wanted to return to KB+.

The discussion then moved on to how to make KB+ more attractive to those using the resource and thus more sustainable. This section of the meeting agenda was predominantly focused on the community aspect of the resource which was one of the attractions of KB+ for many members of the group. It was felt that it was beneficial to be able to share concerns and issues, and be provided with feedback, from others working with electronic resources in a HE environment. While such a service is currently provided for by several mailing lists it was agreed that one forum for all electronic resources people would be useful.

The discussion then moved on to discuss the possible expansion of KB+ to include e-books. While it was agreed that this would be a beneficial area of development a number of points for consideration by the KB+ team were raised such as: the format of the data, the content of the data, the co-operation of the vendors, the issue of multiple editions, the different platforms, etc.

Transfer of data

This then led onto a discussion about the transfer of data between the different systems: namely KB+ and the institution’s knowledgebase from either Serial Solutions or ExLibris. KB+ currently supplies both Serial Solutions and ExLibris with it generic licence and subscription data which is then loaded on to their knowledgebase. Local changes enacted in KB+ can then be made again on the Serial Solutions and ExLibris knowledgebase so that they match. This means it is necessary to perform all the local changes such as the identification of core titles, date range available, etc twice which is a duplication of work and increases the risk of error. Ideally we would like to be able to enact the local changes in KB+ and then for the vendors to take the data from KB+ and do a global update of each institutions knowledgebase. However it was acknowledged that there were often delays in the knowledgebase being updated, therefore it was proposed that it would be desirable for us to make local changes in KB+, export the data and use this to populate the knowledgebase supplied by the vendors ourselves, but that we would still be able to accept the global update when it occurs by the vendor.

The Benefits of Sharing: LMS Day Write-up

Our partner project, The Benefits of Sharing, held an event for over 30 library staff from across Scotland to discuss Library Management Systems.

Facilitated by Stephanie Taylor (@CriticalSteph) and Sheila Cannell, this one-day event asked the question, “Would a shared library management system improve services in Scotland?” To help us investigate the question, we broke the day into three sessions:

1. What do we need from an LMS?
2. What are the benefits and drawbacks to sharing?
3. Would a shared LMS work for Scotland?

The write-up of the event is now available at: //

With thanks to Stuart Lewis, Head of Digital Library Services at the University of Edinburgh for drawing this to our attention 🙂

Bloomsbury Library Management System consortium

We’ve been reading the Bloomsbury Library Management System consortium blog with interest today.

The Bloomsbury Library Management System consortium has made a decision in principle to develop its 21st Century LMS using Kuali OLE open source software as a platform.

The Bloomsbury LMS Consortium is running independently of the JISC LMS programme but will be sharing its outcomes with synthesis project.

As we carry out our evaluation of KB+ and Intota it will be fascinating to see what the Bloomsbury LMS Consortium is saying about Kuali OLE.