Infrastructure schematic (1st draft)

There are several significant developments that will impact on our repository / research management / OER dissemination and discovery over the next 12 months or so…briefly these are:

This is a quick schematic of how the developing infrastructure might look (a bit big to fit in my WordPress theme so click on image for full size):

Testing the VLE PowerLink

To be honest, PowerLink is probably overstating it a bit but it is a link that allows us to search intraLibrary from the VLE and it does work. Sort of. But it’s not very powerful.

The main issue is the very basic nature of the search facility – just a simple search box with no way to perform a more advanced search:

PowerLink

So it’s not a great deal of use unless you know what you’re looking for.

The search functionality does support Boolean operators; the term ukoer, for example, will return the 13 items that I currently have identified with that tag in the keyword field:

PowerLink1

Whereas ukoer AND decision will return the single record “Decision Making” (ukoer OR decision of course, will still return all 13 records) – there is no automatic Boolean however and ukoer decision will return no results at all rather than, say, doing an OR search by default.

Search is also a little crude in that it will find adjacent words in the metadata but only if they are entered in quotation marks. So decision making without quotes will not return any results though “decision making” does return the expected result:

PowerLink2

An additional issue is that, as we are using intralibrary to manage research material as well as learning and teaching material, at the very least we will want to differentiate between these two categories. It is possible to configure the PowerLink to filter by collection and we are currently filtering on Open Educational Resources (and Learning Objects though that collection is not currently searchable externally until we have further developed Leeds Met Open search and configured that interface to differentiate between research & learning and teaching material). It will be useful, however, to also search for full text research papers that may not be available elsewhere but without an advanced search the only way to do this would be to switch off all filtering and allow the PowerLink to return everything….unless we can install two separate instances of the PowerLink in Blackboard and configure them to search different collections. This would be a quick and dirty solution and a bit clunky but, failing technical development of the PowerLink itself, might be the only option – of course, the two instances would need to be clearly named to identify the respective content they would return. We don’t even know if it’s possible yet though and my colleagues in the VLE team are looking in to it as we speak.

So not perhaps a full solution, not as sophisticated as MrCute for Moodle, for example, which, as well as more advanced search functionality also supports searching multiple repositories and depositing from the VLE back into a repository (it was supposed to include Jorum though was disabled last I heard and not sure what the status quo is with ongoing development to JorumOpen).  Limitations notwithstanding, I’ll certainly be testing with teaching staff as is, as something is better than nothing and experience has shown that I’d be ill advised to wait for the perfect solution!

If any of the Keele crowd should pass by these parts I’d be very interested to know if they have done any work refining/extending the functionality of the PowerLink or plan to do so – like us Keele are running intraLibrary 3.0 and Blackboard Vista. I’d also be keen to learn of anybody adapting MrCute for Blackboard.

We have lift-off! What next?

All in all I thought the launch party on Friday went really well, apart from my lacklustre attempts at carving an enormous, JISC branded (really!) cake with a very small knife. And where did all those students come from?  Pre-cake speeches from Barbara Colledge and Wendy Luker, then, were to a sizable crowd who applauded dutifully when Shiela Scraton, Director of University Research cut the golden ribbon, though we still had a good turnout even after the enormous confection and the students had disappeared (presumably back to their desks to scribble up essays in a frenzied sugar-rush.)

I would like to publicly thank Dominic Tate from The Repositories Support Project who, after the ceremonials, gave an excellent presentation introducing his Friday afternoon audience to the growing global infrastructure of IRs of which we are very-nearly a part (launch party notwithstanding we are not quite ready to register with OpenDOAR, more on that in a minute) and covering some of the key benefits of OA to research. I followed Dominic with a demonstration of our repository – both the Open Search interface and intraLibrary itself – emphasising that we are also managing RLOs as well as research, and hopefully gave the audience some idea of where we hope to be by the end of the project in March.

NB. A peculiar and occasional machine specific bug (i.e. it only seems to happen on certain PCs on the LeedsMet network) meant that I couldn’t actually access the Open Search interface on the development server which was frustrating and had to use my demo video – I only belatedly remembered that IMTS had made the interface live on the production server for me – http://repository.leedsmet.ac.uk/main/index.php – however, I did encounter the same problem with the new URL on a colleagues PC yesterday so if anyone has difficulty accessing the interface please let me know. When the problem happened with the dev server IMTS were baffled.

So…what next?  We may have successfully lifted off from the gantry but we are still a long way from achieving a stable orbit and with a little over 3 months before the end of the project a rough list of our priorities might look like this:

1.  Content: research

  • I’m reasonably happy with the metadata template we are using for research and the way that metadata is being returned and formatted in the Open Search interface.  Both will be subject to comment by a wider cohort of staff over the coming months and no doubt extensively tweaked.
  • We do perhaps need to think carefully about the ‘keyword’ field that is being mapped onto DC Subject.  We almost certainly want multiple (uncontrolled?) keywords or do we wish to use a controlled vocabulary?  Which one?  Or do we just want (multiple?) uncontrolled keywords and classify more formally against LOC?
  • I hope to start training a couple of colleagues from the library very soon and they can start uploading research material – before Christmas I hope – their input should also inform the questions above as well as broader metadata considerations and workflow development (see below)

2.  Content: Learning Objects

We have identified several potential sources of content including:

  • Resources already in X-Stream (the VLE) and it’s associated storage space
  • Skills for Learning & Centre for the Built Environment – both of whom have web-based resources to catalogue by URL
  • Learning Technologists, being faculty based, will have access to a range of LOs and should probably be the first user group to set up with intraLibrary accounts and let loose in the repository.

Progress will be subject to establishing viable workflows and appropriate metadata templates, concomitant user-testing and work being undertaken by Streamline.

3.  Workflows

The implications for workflow are naturally going to be different depending on type of resource:

  • For research, in the first instance, the workflow will be fully mediated by myself and colleagues from the library.  As mentioned above I hope to start training colleagues very soon and I hope the workflow will evolve organically though we may well have staffing and resourcing issues depending on the amount of content identified and submitted – this, in turn, will depend on the effectiveness of my advocacy work of course!
  • In the longer term we are hoping to implement a quick-deposit facility using SWORD, there will be implications here for authentication (see below).  Moreover, what will happen to resources deposited in this way?  Presumably they will have to go into a (library) mediated workflow meaning further staffing and resourcing issues.  What metadata will we be able to generate from deposit?  At the very least we would want depositor ID.

NB.  This is unlikely to be realised before the end of the start-up phase of the project.

  • For Learning Objects the workflow will be entirely different and, at this stage, I am much less clear how it might work though anticipate it being relatively straightforward as intraLibrary, after all, is a purpose built LO repository.  The work that is being done by the Streamline project will be important here and I am liaising closely with Dawn whose recent blog posts begin to tackle these issues here and here.

4.  Authentication

Once again, the implications for authentication, I think, are somewhat different depending upon type of resource:

  • For Learning Objects pragmatically I think we need to be able to provide ALL staff with some sort of access to intraLibrary. There will naturally need to be different levels of user with some having browse/search rights only; others being able to upload and yet others having full admin rights – I expect I can manage such a hierarchy through intraLibrary’s internal group management and it wouldn’t necessarily have any implications for a standard authenticated account for all (N.B. Might we also need to give students access to intraLibrary?)  Currently I am manually setting up user accounts with standard network usernames, but will this mean that when authentication by LDAP is implemented then these accounts will be duplicated and that any resources associated with the ‘old’ accounts will need to be moved/uploaded again?
  • Authentication is perhaps less of an issue for research material as it will be accessed on an Open Access basis via http://repository.leedsmet.ac.uk/main/index.php , however, currently we require authenticated access for library/admin staff to upload resources – again, I am currently achieving this by setting up manual accounts – will these be transferable to authenticated accounts?  In the longer term we are hoping to implement a quick-deposit facility using SWORD which I imagine sitting behind a Leeds Met authentication barrier (like the portal?) and that allows research staff to browse for a file on their hard-drive and upload it to the repository (to a librarian’s workflow?)  In this scenario we would want to know who had uploaded a research paper and I’m not sure what the implications of this might be in terms of capturing log-on information and having this recognised/populated in intraLibrary.

5.  Policies/usage agreements/licencing

  • These will be more straightforward in the case of research material where the main issue is around self-archiving permissions according to publishers’ and individual journals’ copyright transfer agreements (SHERPA/RoMEO).  However, there will be implications communicating the issues to research staff and for work-flow (i.e. the necessity for an academic, in most instances, to provide their own final draft of a paper for upload.)
  • The issue is potentially much more complicated for Learning Objects and will certainly require further consultation and input from the University community.  Dawn’s perspective, and I tend to agree, is that, initially, ALL LO’s should be restricted to only being discoverable to authenticated users within intraLibrary before we start worrying about making any of it openly available – though perhaps we could make metadata publicly available.  See Dawn’s post here.

5.  Search Engine Optimisation/OAI-PMH/registration with appropriate services

  • Ideally I would like to facilitate full text indexing by search engine bots but I’m not certain if this is currently possible with intraLibrary and we may need to look at setting up Google site-maps in the first instance.
  • Though I don’t think OAI-PMH is supported by Google any longer, it will still be important for third party harvesting services like OAIster.
  • I will need to review what other services we should register with.  The obvious ones, as Dominic mentioned, are OpenDOAR and ROAR.  We do not yet have enough content nor are we slick enough to register but I am confident that we will be by the end of March!

6.  Developing infrastructure

  • PERSoNA

We are making good progress with the PERSoNA project and the main output will be a website comprising a variety of tools, widgets and links to facilitate social interraction with the repository.  A very preliminary blog has been set up at http://leedsmetrep.wordpress.com/ .  As it is hosted by WordPress it is difficult to add widgets to at the moment so the first job is to set it up on our own server space.

NB.  There are some exciting tools being developed that will tie in with PERSoNA like Stuart Lewis’ Facebook SWORD app – http://fb.swordapp.org/

  • PowerLink to X-Stream

This is already installed on the X-Stream test server and is kind of working albeit with a few bugs.  It would be nice if we can get it working properly for March but probably not an essential output at this time.  We will also want to enhance its functionality but that is almost certainly for a future project.

So that’s it really.  Not much to do.  And I never did have a piece of cake!

PowerLink to X-stream and CLA copies

One of the selling points of intraLibrary was the PowerLink to X-stream (Blackboard Vista) which, as I understand it, will enable a tutor to link directly to an object stored in the repository without the need to upload it to the X-stream module.

We hope to be able to use the repository to store and make available digitised books in line with the CLA licence. Our copyright officer has outlined her ideal requirements from the combined system as follows:

• Closed, secure storage space for digitised files (“Digital Copies”)
• Tutor is provided with a link to a Digital Copy stored within the repository
• The link can be added to an X-stream module (to connect between VLE & Intralibrary)
• Student doesn’t need to login to access Digital Copy when already logged into X-stream
• The Digital Copy remains within the repository
• Library maintains control over the Digital Copies; the Digital Copies can be removed after end of course

She points out that there may well be copyright implications associated with using the repository in this way:

The CLA licence states:

Digital Copies may not be stored, or systematically indexed, with the intention of creating an electronic library or similar educational learning resource

On the face of it this seems to preclude the use of a repository but might it be allowed if the storage is entirely secure i.e. it cannot be accessed by students (or unauthorised staff) without a PowerLink to the VLE which will only make the digital copy available in accordance with the licence – that is, as though it had simply been uploaded to the VLE?

I suppose it would be an indexed, electronic library of sorts but purely for archival purposes – for authorised library staff to have a centralised, searchable store of digital copies that can be linked to directly from X-stream without needing to email the actual resource to an individual tutor so he can upload it to X-stream. Given the flexible nature of intraLibrary (another selling point) it should be straightforward to federate access to a particular collection (digitised books) and a particular user group (librarians) in this way but is the PowerLink secure? Will staff be able to share the link (which is ok but only if we know about it and can record it)? Will tutors just be linking to the resource and not actually copying the file from the repository into X-stream?

I need to learn more about how the PowerLink actually works – and X-stream itself for that matter. Not to mention the CLA licence and copyright!

Repository Steering Group meeting: 22nd July 2008

The staff development festival in September is a unique opportunity to promote the repository and our agenda for yesterday’s meeting aimed to get some much needed input from the steering group before the quiet month of August.

Item 1. Recap of previous meetings:

Documentation approved.

Item 2. Update on progress with intraLibrary

2a. Configuration:

Search interface (SRU):

Getting the search interface on line is the first priority – my request for the server is still pending with IMTS but I hope we can install the IRISS interface as is within the next few weeks (JohnG is installing it on a local server as we speak which can then be tranferred to our Leeds Met domain when it is available) and I think it will be straightforward to switch the CSS to get a very rough Leeds Met branding.

Content structure:

This is also crucial and needs to be put in place ASAP. Several members of the group expressed the opinion that it should not be based on faculties which tend not to be fixed entities within the university; it was also thought that such a schema would not reflect institutional emphasis upon cross-disciplinary research. There was consensus that organisation at the top level should be by content type (i.e. Research/Learning Objects) but exactly what hierarchy should be employed beneath is still not clear (library of congress subject headings?). We also need to make a decision on what other material types will be accomodated in the prototype (e.g. Dissertations and Theses)

Landing screen:

Technical challenges aside, the current conception of the landing screen is that it will essentially use the same template as the search interface i.e. it will be branded the same and share the same look and feel; it will also share some of the same functionality and link back ‘home’ to the search interface.

Given the close relationship between these configuration issues, a sub-group was identified that will liaise as necessary to develop the content structure; branding; look and feel; usability and will also inform the technical development of the additional functionality.

2b. Policies:

The group was briefed on the types of policies that need to be developed (see last post) with emphasis on the fact that the ‘standard’ institutional repository policies may be insufficient for our requirements given our wider remit (i.e. not just research outputs). A sub-group was identified that will liaise as necessary to develop suitable policies.

2c. URL:

The suggestion mooted – repository.leedsmet.ac.uk – was deemed suitable by the group

Item 3. Content for the repository:

To discuss method of contacting researchers / research active staff and soliciting content

Review of draft correspondence for research active staff and discussion of when this would most usefully be disseminated; consensus that it would have the greatest impact some time after the staff development festival. Content was broadly approved though it was suggested that greater emphasis be placed on the benefits of OA to citation and the increased importance of citation under proposals for REF (to replace RAE).

Emphasis was placed on the need to identify and recruit interested parties within specific faculties/research groups to help drive the advocacy process to the wider community; liaison with University Research Office for appropriate contact lists.

(NB. This is an ongoing process that is already underway but will increase in profile with the implementation of the prototype system.)

The Staff development festival confirmed as a key opportunity.

There was discussion whether content would be full text only or would also comprise citation of material that we do not have copyright permission to make available as full text (i.e. bibliographic reference only). Given that including such material will enable us to ‘hit the ground running’ and considering the increasing importance of citation data/bibliometrics for the RAE / REF the consensus was that citations should be included at the outset.

Item 4. Authentication

It was emphasised to the group that we can be fully functional as a mediated repository without the need for authentication in the first instance.

A representative from IMTS was able to inform the discussion in the light of recent feedback from Intrallect and will continue to liaise as necessary.

Item 5. Integration with other Leeds Met systems

In light of the decision to include citations as well as full text, an important early integration will be with SFX such that citations in the repository can incorporate a link to Leeds Met holdings of subscribed material; hardly Open Access as it will only be available to authenticated staff and students but will offer another local route to that material and can also be used to generate data on OA friendly publishers and perhaps to raise awareness of OA.

The PowerLink to X-stream should also be a priority such that it is operational at the earliest opportunity.

NB. Precise functionality of the PowerLink still needs to be determined.

Other systems flagged up for integration were iTunesU and the streaming server; pending investigation!

The next meeting of the steering group will take place after the staff development festival, probably late September/early October.

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