The National Bibliographic Knowledgebase

We’re pleased to announce the development of a National Bibliographic Knowledgebase (NBK). This will be a three year development that builds on the long term success of the Copac service. The NBK will provide a new platform for expanding the database to include all UK Higher Education libraries that wish to participate, as well as retaining and increasing the range of non-academic research libraries. This greater inclusiveness of HE (and other) libraries has been the most frequent enhancement request from Copac users and we will now be working towards that goal. Jisc has commissioned OCLC to create the NBK and we will be working with the Higher Education library community to bring on board many more HE libraries, as well as continuing to expand the range of specialist research libraries that contribute their catalogue.

In the short term the NBK will be developed in parallel with the continuing development of Copac and we aim to move all current contributor data onto the new platform. As the NBK becomes established it is anticipated that Copac services, including Copac Collection Management tools (CCM tools), will become integrated into the NBK, to offer functionality that utilises the expanded data set that the NBK will provide. We will be looking to enhance existing services in resource discovery and collection management, as well as developing new services to support libraries in the management of their print and digital resources.

Full details of the NBK are available on the Press release on the Jisc National Monograph Solutions (NMS) blog.

We have also added information about the NBK to the Copac FAQ pages.

This is very early days for the project. The Copac team will be working with current Copac contributors over coming months as we begin to develop the new NBK. We will also talking with library consortia, as well as individual institutions, as we look at widening the range of contributing institutions.

Interface update: New Sort & Direct Link options

We’ve been making some changes to the Copac interface and adding new facilities. The main developments are:

  • Search results now have an estimated number of records, so for larger results you have a better idea of the number of records involved.
  • The Sort facility can now be used for a result set of up to 2000 records.
  • Where your search includes a title the Sort will include a Title Rank option to bring exactly matching titles to the top of the list.
  • The Full record display now includes a ‘Direct Link’ option. You can copy the direct link and include it in your own documents. This lets you link directly to a specific Copac record without having to search.

In addition the online Help has been updated and expanded to provide more information about managing your search results. There is a ‘Help’ button towards the top right of each screen.

These developments are in response to feedback from people using Copac, so if there are changes or additions you would like to see please get in touch. We are currently working on the deduplication procedures, in particular for pre-1800 materials, and we will be introducing enhancements to this process in due course.

If you have any comments or questions please get in touch with the Copac helpdesk: help.copac@jisc.ac.uk.

Copac cloud platform and new Web address

We have now moved the Copac service onto our new cloud platform. This is the final stage of a project to transfer the service onto a more responsive platform with greater flexibility to support future development. We will be continuing to check all aspects of the service now the move is complete – if you notice any problems please let us know via the Copac helpdesk: copac@mimas.ac.uk

You will also see there is a new Copac URL: http://copac.jisc.ac.uk
This reflects the move of Mimas services into Jisc last year. The old Copac Web address will continue to work for the forseeable future.

If you use the option to login to Copac it is possible that the Web address change may take a while to be picked up locally. So whilst we expect that most people will see the change immediately, in some cases it could take up to 24 hours before the login works for you.

As part of the work on Copac during the platform move we have removed one little used feature. Previously, where a university library didn’t have its catalogue on Copac, the library could provide information to let us to set up a local catalogue search – so a member of that university who was logged into Copac could search both Copac and their local catalogue together. This facility has been little used, so has been removed for the time being – with apologies to those who have been making us of this option. There are discussions underway about the future scope of the Copac service and once this becomes clearer we will look again at whether there is still a need for this type of facility and, if so, the best way of providing this.

Copac maintenance 30th June 2015

We are coming towards the end of a project to move Copac onto a new cloud platform, which should give us a more responsive and flexible platform for development into the future. We are planning to move onto the new cloud service on the morning of the 30th June. We don’t anticipate any downtime but the service should be considered at risk that morning.

We are also going to be moving to a new Web address to reflect the fact that Copac, along with other Mimas services, is now part of Jisc.
We will provide details once the new address is fully established, but the existing Copac Web address (http://copac.ac.uk) will continue to work for the foreseeable future.

If you have any questions please get in touch through the Copac helpdesk:
copac@mimas.ac.uk

Postponed: Copac Office Move: 17th-20th April

Unfortunately our office move has now been postponed.
We’ll post the new date nearer the time, but it is likely to be early May.

The Copac team is on the move on Friday 17th April and settling into our new office on Monday 20th April. Along with the rest of our Jisc Manchester colleagues we are moving to:
Jisc
6th Floor, Churchgate House
56 Oxford Street
Manchester
M1 6EU

With apologies in advance – you may find there is a delay in response to queries sent between 17th-20th April whilst the move takes place. But we’ll get back to you as soon as we can once we’re installed in our new space.

 

Copac User Survey 2014

“Invaluable resource.”

Many thanks to all the 1,073 people who completed the Copac user survey in November 2014. Our annual survey helps us to gain an insight into how well the Copac service is supporting your research and other activity, to identify the areas where you feel we could be doing better, as well as to gather your thoughts on new facilities that you would value.

We particularly appreciate that so many survey respondents expressed an interest in being involved in ongoing development activity. Last year some survey respondents subsequently took part in detailed testing of changes to the Copac interface. This is enormously valuable for us as the service develops – we couldn’t do it without you.

The following gives a brief summary of the survey results, with more details available for download.

Copac User survey 2014: summary

Most Copac users are from the UK (79%) and Europe (13%) with the remainder from range of different countries widely spread across the world giving researchers everywhere a picture of the wealth of research materials available in the UK.

The largest group of Copac users are from Further and Higher education (UK 62%), with the remainder coming from a range of organisations in both the public and private sector, as well as independent researchers. Most users are from the Humanities and Social Sciences, but there are users with an interest in subject areas across the board.

Many respondents are regular users of Copac, with some 74% of UK users saying they make use of the service at least once a week. For some people Copac is clearly an important support for their research and other activity. However, it is far from a static user group, with 343 people selecting the ‘first time user’ option which bypasses the survey to let them try using Copac.

The survey results show that time saving is an important feature, with most respondents (UK 92%) agreeing that Copac saves them time. The fact that the interface is seen as easy to use (UK 93%) is also likely to be part of its appeal. And we are pleased to know that that most respondents (UK 98%) would recommend the Copac service to others.

In terms of what respondents most value about Copac, many comments (50%) mentioned the range of contributors covered, along with location information, as being of particular value. This breadth of coverage also permits other activities mentioned, such as rarity checking. Many comments also mentioned the ease of use and range of facilities provided (25% of comments), whilst the data quality, the level of detail, and the reliability of the data were also mentioned as important (20% of comments).

In looking at what respondents said they would most like to change it has to be remembered the largest single group is those who have made no comment or in some cases actively prefer no change (50% of survey respondents). Where change was requested, 14% of comments mentioned specific changes or additions to the available facilities, with a further 10% of comments including requests for changes to the interface. Some 8% of comments were concerned with increasing the database coverage. Record quality and completeness was mentioned in some 5% of comments, whilst a similar 6% of comments requested improvements to record deduplication. These are areas that overlap to some degree, as the ability to deduplicate records within Copac is influenced by the quality and completeness of the data.

Next steps

In 2015 we will be moving Copac onto a new cloud platform. This will support the growth of the service as we continue to add new catalogues, something seen as important by many survey respondents.

Once the cloud move is complete we will be returning to the survey feedback to look at where we can best direct our development effort. We also plan to continue our work looking at the underlying data in terms of enhancing the record deduplication and data quality.

The full survey results can be downloaded: Copac Annual User Survey 2014 [pdf]

Feedback

We welcome feedback at any time, as well as suggestions for new catalogues to include on Copac that would be of value to the research community. You can contact us via the helpdesk at: copac@mimas.ac.uk

Responding to your feedback

It’s that time of year where we ask for feedback from you through the Copac Annual survey. This is your opportunity to tell us about your use of Copac – including what you like and what you don’t like – and how you want the service to develop.

In previous surveys you said:

I’d like more coverage outside HE‘: We add new libraries every year and we are currently focused on specialist collections from libraries outwith the university sector, increasing the visibility of research collections that may be less well known.

Eliminate duplicate entries‘: The number of comments about duplicate records showed this was a significant issue for many people. We have therefore made some major changes to how we handle duplicates and the level of duplication has gone down. In particular we are now deduplicating records for pre-1800 materials; something we didn’t do in the past. Records for these early materials have particular complexities and we know we have more to do here, so this is something we will continue to work on.

Not always clear if journal is electronic or print‘: There was a need for us to indicate the format of a document more clearly. So amongst the interface changes this year we’ve added a ‘flag’ to show the format of each document. This isn’t perfect – as the records aren’t perfect – but it helps clarify the displays; again this is something we will work to refine over time.

Putting in a range of dates gives me too many extraneous records‘: A date range search on Copac is not straightforward as it needs to encompasses many different materials, including periodicals published over a long time period. But our original method of dealing with date ranges wasn’t working for everyone. We have now changed this so the date range search is much more precise.

We have also made a range of less obvious changes to the interface to make it more consistent, easier to use, and work more effectively with mobile devices.

We can’t implement everything you request, there may be technical or practical issues, or simply a difference of option – ‘Include more libraries’ vs ‘don’t add any more collections’. But we try to find a balanced way through such differences and the things we can’t implement now we retain for potential future development.

Volunteering to help us

In the last survey some respondents kindly supplied their contact details, expressing interest in further testing of Copac. We have recently taken some people up on this offer and with their help we are carrying out detailed testing of the Copac interface.

In the 2013 survey there was interest in: ‘a few ‘refine your search’ options (type of resource, creator, date, language, etc.)’. So we have also been asking our volunteers how they feel about the introduction of these types of ‘search facets’ – and which ones they’d find useful. The reaction has been positive, so we’ll be looking at this further next year.

What now?

At the moment we are beginning to work on a hardware move, taking Copac into the cloud onto a new and more flexible platform. This will be a major exercise, but once it is complete we’ll be working again on the Copac interface to see how we can best respond to your development requests, whilst balancing conflicting requirements – including the wishes of those who’s view is emphatic: ‘DON’T CHANGE IT!’

We rely on your feedback to help guide how Copac develops and to inform our funders about your views of the service. So, if you’ve not already done so please fill in our annual survey using the link on the home page – and contribute to shaping Copac in the future.

New Copac database and revised interface

We’ve released a new Copac database and made a number of revisions to the interface. The most visible changes are:

  • An updated look which will work better with mobile devices.
  • Increased deduplication, including all pre-1800 materials.
  • Clearer indication of document format (eg. print vs electronic).
  • Options to expand merged records. You can look ‘under the bonnet’ of a merged record to see the original individual records supplied by each library, or just a subset of the original records eg. just those for printed materials.

We have currently removed the options for sorting search results. This is a temporary measure, one of a number of changes we have made whilst we assess how the new database performs now it’s in service. We will reintroduce the sort options again once we have a better sense of the overall system performance. We are also looking to move off our old hardware in the near future with one aim being to increase response times.

Changes to the database and interface have been made in response to feedback, in particular balancing concerns about duplicate records vs the desire not to lose access to the original records from each library for early printed materials. We’ve recently been working with Copac users on the interface changes and we’re continuing with interface testing and development later this year. So any feedback you have on the interface will be valuable for us to include into the ongoing development.

Note: The document format identification and deduplication are not perfect, they are both affected by the variability of the data. Deduplication of records for early printed materials has raised particular issues. We have a range of checks to try to deal with some of the record variation in both these ares, but we will be looking further at these in the future.

Missing catalogues:

Four of our contributors changed to a new library system last year, so to ensure we can continue to update their data we need a complete catalogue reload. They have had difficulties successfully exporting data so, currently, four catalogues are missing from Copac. We have been working with one of the libraries and their system supplier to help resolve problems with their data export. This has taken some time, but we should begin the load of the York catalogue shortly. If this goes well we will be aiming to load the other missing catalogues as soon as possible. The libraries affected are:

  • Imperial College London
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of York (including NRM and York Minster)

Ongoing development

The new database and revised interface have involved major changes behind-the-scenes to provide us with a stable base for continued service expansion, as well as the potential to introduce new facilities in the future. We have some ongoing system issues and we’re working to mitigate these in the short term, whilst at the same time planning a move from our old hardware onto a new cloud platform, with a focus on response times.

Keeping in touch

You can stay in touch with Copac activity through:

You can also provide feedback on the service at any time through the Copac helpdesk: copac@mimas.ac.uk as well as by filling in our annual user survey. We really appreciate your feedback and the comments we get help guide the development of the service.

Beta interface trial

We’ve been making some interface changes and we’d appreciate your feedback. Please try the Beta trial interface and use one of the email links on the screens to let us know how you get on. The revised interface works with a new Copac database which we will be releasing by the end of July. Note: both the database and interface are still being actively developed and are subject to change without notice.

There are a number of areas we are still working on but we would value comments at this stage before the soft launch of the interface changes next week. The most visible changes are:

  • We have a done a lot of work on the deduplication and we are now deduplicating all records, including pre-1800 materials.
  • The document format is clearer, eg. does a library have a print or electronic copy.
  • There is an updated look and Copac will work better on mobile devices.

You can continue to use Copac in the same way as before, however, for those wanting to use them there are a couple of new features:

  • Where we deduplicate records from multiple libraries we merge these together as before, however, if you wish you can now expand a merged record to see all the original records as supplied by each library; for example, if you are interested in early printed materials you can still see all the details of each copy.
  • You can also expand a merged record to see just a sub-set of the original records eg. just the records for the print copies.

The interface is a work in progress. We have been working with some Copac users regarding the display changes and we’ll be doing more interface testing later in the year, so any feedback you have will be valuable as part of this ongoing development.

Copac User Survey 2013

“It is a dream resource. I am so GLAD it exists!”

In November 2013 we carried out our annual user survey. This is an important means for us to gather information about who is using Copac, how users feel about the service, and what changes they would like to see. We really appreciate the time taken by the 1193 users who filled in the survey giving us valuable feedback.

We are already making a few minor interface changes in response to some of the comments we’ve received. Later in the year we are planning an interface review and the survey feedback will be valuable input into this process. However, as we make changes we will bear in mind the need to balance development requests with the wishes of those who do not want the interface to become too complex.

The following gives a brief summary of the survey results, with more details available for download.

We welcome feedback at any time, as well as suggestions for new catalogues to include on Copac that would be of value to the research community. You can contact us via the helpdesk at: copac@mimas.ac.uk

2013 User Survey Summary

Copac provides a global window on UK research materials, so whilst most Copac users are from the UK (76%) or Europe (15%), we also had responses from users across the world. IN terms of background, the largest single group of users are within Higher Education (58%), followed by Independent researchers (12%); but Copac is of value in a diverse range of areas, including publishing and bookselling in the commercial sector.

In looking at their role, some 41% of UK users are academic staff, students, or researchers. After this the largest single group of UK users is library staff (37%) many of whom will also be part of the academic community. Copac users have diverse subject interests, with many users indicating an interest in multiple subjects, but the largest proportion of responses were for the Humanities (UK 35%) and Social Sciences (UK 19%).

For many users Copac is clearly a regular feature of their work with 74% of UK users accessing Copac at least once a week. And they clearly value the service, with 94% of UK respondents agreeing that Copac saves them time, whilst 94% of UK respondents also reporting that Copac is easy to use. We are particularly pleased to see that 99% of UK users would recommend Copac. For non-UK users results were similar, but with a slightly larger proportion of neutral responses.

We’ve had some really valuable comments about what people both like about Copac and what they want to change. Many responses include feedback in more than one category so the numbers reflect the number of comments rather than users.

The database coverage and location finding ability are important for many (UK 54%), with comments also referring to the database coverage as enabling collection assessment, planning library visits, doing bibliographical research, and assessing document rarity. Ease of use and the range of facilities was also commented on favourably (UK 22%), as was the quality and completeness of the data (UK 20%).

In terms of what changes people would like to see, some 62% or users either didn’t respond or actively didn’t want change, so it is in this context that we need to respond to the change requests received. The largest single group of change request comments related to the interface (11%) whilst, given the importance of the database coverage, it is unsurprising that requests for more catalogues also feature (6%). Another 6% of comments related to a desire for specific new or improved facilities, with a further 5% concerned with improved deduplication and 5% wanting improved/enhanced record content; though there is sometimes an acknowledgement that these latter areas are inter-related and neither is easy to resolve.

The full survey results can be downloaded: Copac User Survey November 2013