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Higher Education Library Technology Briefing Papers Briefing papers and webinars are available to all – under a very open (CC0) license - so feel free to share

It's here now - AI in library discovery services - Free Webinar 23 July 2024 at 14.30 (UK time)

The fundamentals of library discovery services have been well-established for over a dozen years, and the landscape is dominated by a few key players. The major discovery services will need to be more strongly differentiated than the alchemy that determines the relevance ranking of the results. The potential of AI to reinvigorate library discovery services has generated much discussion. This webinar will go beyond discussion, theory, and speculation to reveal a real working implementation of AI in an innovative library discovery solution that is available now. It will show how AI enriches the discovery experience to meet the needs of students and researchers better.

A Higher Education Library Technology (HELibTech) FREE webinar
Register here

Briefing papers

“I just want to say how perfect these are for our librarian audience. Perfect length, perfect tone, and perfect amount of technical info”. Jim Lynch,

New approaches to resource sharing

New approaches to resource sharing: transforming library collections and the user experience
Ken Chad. Higher Education Library Technology [HELibTech] Briefing Paper No. 8, December 2022.

InterLibrary loan (ILL) is an essential library service. Even the largest, most well-funded library cannot meet, from its own collections, all the resource needs of all its users. However, InterLibrary loan (ILL) and document delivery (DD) workflows and software solutions can be complex with staff intensive workflows. A new generation of library resource sharing solutions is helping libraries transform legacy ILL practices and systems and challenge past assumptions. In the past, key factors limiting efficient ILL/DD were the complex nature and poor interoperability of ILL systems and the resultant staff intensive workflows and costs. As we move into the second quarter of the 21st century, technology has transformed ILL/resource sharing.

While Open Access is widely acknowledged as having challenged conventional subscription publication models, a full solution to enabling the free flow of research is still to be found. OA combined with persistent work by librarians collaborating regionally, nationally and internationally to break down barriers to sharing resources, creates potential for a dramatically new approach. New approaches to resource sharing will encourage a reassessment of library collections and drive forward a more open research agenda.

Open library systems

Open library systems – a new perspective.** //

Ken Chad. Higher Education Library Technology [HELibTech] Briefing Paper No. 7, May 2022.

In the last decade or so open source software became a defining factor in how librarians perceived ‘open’ library systems. Open source library systems such as Koha gained market share were often seen in terms of a ‘battle’ with the more common proprietary solutions. With the rise of cloud computing, software ‘platforms’ have come to dominate. Because the solution is hosted in the cloud, rather than implemented on local servers, the underlying technology becomes of less concern. These platforms, including Library Services Platforms (LSPs) typically embrace open source components and combine them with proprietary solutions. The value of a ‘platform’, as opposed to a software ‘product’ comes not only from its own features, but from its ability to connect to external solutions, data, and processes. To do this it needs to be ‘open’ in terms of data and the ability to integrate, via (typically open) application programming Interfaces (APIs), with other products which may be developed by customers or provided by other independent software vendors (ISVs).This, open interoperability, perspective is now a more fruitful way to consider open library systems.

Aggregate and amplify -enhancing the value and use of theses and dissertations

Aggregate and amplify -enhancing the value and use of theses and dissertations. Ken Chad. Higher Education Library Technology [HELibTech] Briefing Paper No. 6, July 2020

Theses and dissertations (TDs) form a core part of the research outputs of an academic institution. However, they do not usually get the same attention as journal published research. Universities are doing more to make this category of research outputs more easily discoverable to a growing global community of scholars. In this way they increase visibility for the institution and individual by amplifying the reach to the wider scholarly community. The paper looks at the value to the author, the institution and the global research community. It analyses the particular value that TD specific aggregations offer in terms of enhancing discovery, text and data mining, making historical works more discoverable through digitisation and preservation. It addresses the contentious issue of embargoes and open access. The paper presents the case for an aggregated, amplified, global and digitised approach to TDs.

The rise of library centric reading list systems

The rise of library centric reading list systems. By Ken Chad. Higher Education Library Technology (HELibTech) Briefing Paper no.5 . July 2018

The last five years have seen a sizable increase in the number of universities in the UK, Australia and New Zealand deploying library centric reading lists solutions. A notable change in the last year or so is that library resource list solutions are beginning to be adopted in the US. The paper suggests that reading/resource list systems will have a major impact on the global library technology market just as library ‘discovery services’ did over a decade ago.

The paper analyses the impact of reading list solutions on students, academics/faculty, the library and the library supply chain. It looks to future developments including the more extensive use of analytics and the increasing role of reading lists in pedagogical ‘scaffolding’.

The student consumer and the rise of E-textbook platforms

The student consumer and the rise of e-textbook platforms. By Ken Chad.Higher Education Library Technology (HELibTech) briefing paper (No. 4). March 2018.

A recent report for the Society of College, National & University Libraries (SCONUL) listed ‘students as customers’ as one of the five top 'transformational’ trends that will impact libraries over the next ten years. These student consumers are not all happy and one reason is the rising cost of textbooks and the lack of availability from libraries. The briefing paper looks at the textbook market and moves to digital and more interactive learning. It analyses new approaches to textbook publication and the new ways libraries are delivering e-textbooks to students including the rise of e-textbook platforms, Open Textbooks and institutional initiatives to combat rising textbook costs. It concludes with an analysis of the potential disruptive impact of new user focused e-textbook platforms

The role of the library in teaching and learning outcomes

The new role of the library in teaching and learning outcomes. By Ken Chad & Helen Anderson. HELIbTech briefing paper No. 3. 20 June 2017

Students in many countries, especially the US and UK are concerned that the growing cost of higher education is not delivering good value. Excellence in teaching and a focus on measurement and assessment of learning outcomes have become entrenched in higher education policy and the strategies of academic institutions. In the UK this trend has crystallised in a new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) introduced by government in 2017.
As a result library leaders around the world will need to become more strategic in articulating value propositions based around a more holistic view of library/learning resources.The value of data analytics will be a key driving force. Data from reading list systems and digital textbook platforms combined with information from other institutional systems will allow powerful insights to emerge. Such analytics will be invaluable to institutions, publishers and intermediaries as they look at new ways to deliver content.

All this suggests a trend for library technology and educational technology to merge. There looks to be the beginning of shift away from a narrow conception of *library* systems, the *library* supply chain and *library data*. Conventional integrated library systems (ILS) and even the new generation of library services platforms (LSPs) remain wedded to an outdated view of library learning resources and will have to change significantly or be integrated or subsumed into a new generation of learning services platforms.

Teaching and learning outcomes, the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) a new world for libraries, publishers and intermediaries.
Presentation at UKSG Conference . April 2018

A focus on measurement and assessment of teaching and learning outcomes has become entrenched in policy and the strategies of academic institutions. In the UK this trend has crystallised in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). Librarians are increasingly managing course specific resources that up to now had been the province of the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) or digital textbook platforms. This session looks at the impacts on content and licensing, e-textbooks and the potential merging of library and educational technology.

Rethinking the Library Services Platform

Rethinking the Library Services Platform. By Ken Chad HELIbTech briefing paper No. 2.

(Also available in German Überdenken des Konzeptes “Library Services Platform“

The second in the series of HELibTech briefing papers challenges the current definition of a library services platform (LSP) and suggests ways in which library systems might develop. While a new generation of library systems has emerged there remains a very significant lack of interoperability between the various components that make up the wider library technology ‘ecosystem’. So, although we talk of library services platforms, libraries and library system vendors have not yet fully realised a platform-based, interoperable library ecosystem. Cloud computing could help break this paradigm as it is doing with enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. Gartner, an information technology market research and advisory firm, suggests that the ERP suite is being deconstructed into what they characterise as a ‘postmodern ERP.’ Gartner suggests that the result will be a more loosely coupled environment with much of the functionality sourced as Cloud services or via business process outsourcers. Will we see the same trend in library technology?
A more open library technology ecosystem, possibly making better use of open source components, would eliminate the restrictions of a closed and monolithic suite of services from a single vendor. Solutions are moving to the Cloud but aren’t yet really platforms. It is possible that such a platform-based ecosystem model will be the “next generation” in library automation. The promise for libraries is a more flexible and cost effective solution and for users a much improved user experience.

Suzanne Enright, Registrar at the University of Westminster, London commented:
“It is always important to see library technology trends in a wider context, not least that of the wider corporate ecosystem and the HELibTech briefing papers are really helpful in navigating our complex landscape. This briefing paper provides interesting new insights into the challenging area of library related technology, where the demands of our users aren’t always matched by the market providers. The need for interoperability is in constant flux in the increasingly complex world of technology-enhanced learning and research”.

Library management system to library services platform

Library management system to library services platform. Resource management for libraries: a new perspective. Ken Chad HELibTech Briefing Paper August 2015
This briefing paper contrasts the library resource management landscape now with the situation in 2008 when the Jisc/Sconul LMS study recommended that the time was not right for libraries to purchase a new library system. In the intervening period a new generation of 'library services platforms' (LSPs) has emerged and the pace of procurement has quickened. Ken analyses the current landscape and looks at the strategic issues around the changing nature of library collections, shared services, workflows and analytics. The paper is made available under a CC-0 license to enable easy re-use.


HELibTech Dialogues with library technology thought leaders (Webinars)

**A new age for library metadata?**.

27th September 2023

Catalogue records remain at the heart of the library technology ecosystem. Metadata are critical to making library resources discoverable. Poor metadata results in wasted resources, missed opportunities, and builds error into any system. Creating quality records can be time consuming and expensive and libraries are increasingly looking for more efficient and effective approaches. How should academic libraries respond to this new environment? To explore the issues, library consultant Ken Chad is in conversation with Lesley Whyte, Managing Director of Bibliographic Data Services. BDS has a long record of providing metadata services to academic and public libraries, the British Library and library suppliers. Link to the webinar recording**

Rethinking and measuring librarian impacts on student success - information literacy


Supporting information literacy offers an opportunity for academic librarians to play a key role in students' academic success. Library Consultant Ken Chad is in conversation with Jared Oates to discuss his analysis of the issues, potential ways forward and the implications for library technology. Jared Oates is co-founder and COO at Niche Academy, which provides solutions to librarians looking to deliver more effective information literacy programmes. Prior to starting Niche Academy, Jared was the Director of Product Strategy for SirsiDynix. Jared is a writer, software engineer, and an entrepreneur. Over many years working with hundreds of libraries, he’s spent a lot of time thinking about the challenges they face and the unique ways they can positively impact their communities.

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