As part of the HIKE project we have been populating and using both Serial Solutions 360 Resource Manager and KB+, therefore we thought it would be useful to write a comparison between the two systems and evaluate which is the best system to use for our purposes and propose an ideal workflow for using the two systems.
At Huddersfield, we will use the information held in these two systems in different ways. Primarily data from both systems will be used to help the Information Resources team with the management of the electronic resources lifecycle, but it is also used as a reference tool for the Academic Services team to answer any enquiries on access, ILL allowances, etc. In order to evaluate the systems we propose to compare and contrast three different areas of the system before offering an ideal workflow and suggestions of any developments that would need to be considered to facilitate the proposed workflow. The three areas for the initial investigation are
- the aims and objectives of the two systems
- the population of the two databases
- the functionality of the two systems
Aims and Objectives of the systems
The aim of KB+ is to support the management of all electronic resources by holding the pertinent information from the current licences and subscriptions that are maintained by the library, holding historical data about subscriptions and licences, and providing a forum for shared community activity relating to the management of electronic resources. This is all the information that the Information Resources team will need to know when dealing with the lifecycle of the resource and for answering any enquiries relating to access and use.
In contrast the purpose of Resource Manager is to hold all the information about the resources, and be interactive and aid in the management of the resources. By entering all the information about a resource such as fund and payment information, contact details, password and access information, expiry dates and licence details Resource Manager has the potential to play an active part in the selection, acquisition and renewal of electronic resources through integrated alerts, automated reports and the interlinking of resource information. For example, once you have set an expiry date on a subscription you can ask the system to notify you of the impending renewal a month before it is due.
Population of the two databases
Populating the database with information, in both systems, begins with the creation of a new licence. In both it is possible to either create an entry from scratch or to copy an existing template including the restrictions and modify it. For each licence in KB+ there is an information box which holds the name of the licence, the notice period for cancellation, linked subscriptions and the URL of the licence if available.
The location of this important information for identifying the resource is well placed at the top of the page as it immediately and clearly identifies which licence is being dealt with, the subscriptions that are governed by these restrictions and the period of notice that needs to be given if you intend to cancel.
The key properties of the licence, which were defined and identified by the KB+ community as the properties which you most frequently need to know are displayed in a traffic light table below. For each property you can select from a drop down menu of yes, no or other and then provide an explanation and more information if required in the column next to it. You can also upload an electronic copy of the licence and any other relevant documents, and there is the facility to add notes to record any information you feel may be beneficial keeping, for example if a lecturer has asked you to subscribe to a specific resource. These notes can also be made public which shares the information with the KB+ community. It is thought that one use of this feature may be to identify access problems and alert others to the problems.
In Resource Manager there are two sections relating to the licence that need to be filled in. The first is the general information about the licence such as the name, duration of the licence, location of the licence, status and the period of notice of expiration that the library would like. Similar to KB+ this is located as the first page of licence details which is useful as it gives the main points of information relating to the licence. There is then another page, for specifying the terms of the licence, which is a mixture of tick boxes, drop-down and free text fields. We found Resource Manager harder to populate as it required a more in-depth knowledge of the licences and many of the fields required information that is based on North American licence models and are not always relevant in the UK or do not have an equivalent. There were also a number of fields that would be relevant for British HEIs but were missing such as: the ability to use the resource at multi-sites or if overseas students are allowed to use the resource. Like KB+ it offers the ability to link the licence to the resource/resources it governs, but because they are linked to the Serial Solutions Knowledge Base there are a larger number of resources to which licences can be linked.
There are a number of fields within Resource Manager which we are not using but which we believe will be beneficial for us to populate and use in the future. By recording this information in a clear, concise and systematic way through Resource Manager it will allow us to easily extract the information to understand more about the resource in order to answer enquiries and make informed decisions in the selection, acquisition and renewal of electronic resources. The fields indicated below and information they hold are the additional fields we believe should be populated as they will help HE institutions in the management of their electronic resources.
- Fair clause – permitted uses of the published material such as ILL
- Scholarly sharing – non-systematic classroom use e.g. the printing of a section of a journal by a tutor for their class as a one off.
- Electronic link – VLE or wiki
- Perpetual access holdings – indicate the dates of our perpetual access e.g. 1996 – 2000
- Governing law/copyright/governing jurisdiction = UK/US copyright
- Execution date – date the licence was signed and agreed
- There are also a couple of fields relating to the use of published material and repositories which may in the future be useful. Although at the moment very few licences mention repositories and this information is kept separately at SHERPA.
Resource Manager also offers the opportunity to add notes like KB+; however, this information cannot be shared. Additionally users may feel uncomfortable about using commercial software, such as Resource Manager to record information about the parent company, Proquest, although we have been informed that it is possible to hide these notes from the vendor. Another difference between the two systems is that you are unable to upload an electronic copy of the licence in Resource Manager meaning you are still dependent on the paper copy. However, Resource Manager does offer additional features, e.g. recording administrative details such as the dates of acquisition and renewal, the log on details for users and admin users, the contact details of the account manager, and payment details such as invoice details, amount and fund.
The functionality of the systems
We found that the pertinent information of the licence was displayed on KB+ in clean, clear and easy to understand way. The presentation of this information provides a quick and easy reference tool for someone answering an enquiry. However, if you were using KB+ to answer a query about a resource or journal you would need to know which licence governed your resource or which collection the journal was part of before you could identify and find the correct licence on KB+ to extract the relevant information.
Whereas with Resource Manager you can search the Serial Solutions Knowledge Base at journal level and then follow a series of links which will take you to the licence that governs that journal. Yet the presentation of the information of the correct licence in Resource Manager is not as easy to understand as in KB+, despite holding all the same information and more. Resource Manager has the appearance of a busy screen due to the small font and line spacing of the page which makes it difficult to identify the relevant information at first glance.
KB+ is the easier of the two systems to populate and displays relevant licence information in a clean and simple way making it straightforward to understand. However, a certain amount of knowledge about the resource is required to be able to find the terms of the licence. Conversely Resource Manager is harder to populate as it requires more detailed information and it is harder to find and extract the information, but it is easier to find the relevant licence within the system without any prior knowledge of the resource. Being an interactive aid in the management of electronic resources Resource Manager offers additional features KB+ does not. Therefore although additional time may be spent inputting detailed data, theoretically, in the long run, it will save you time.
In conclusion we recommend that both systems are used but for different purposes:
- Resource Manager will help the Information Resources team in the management of electronic resources in an active way
- KB+ will provide an ideal reference tool for answering enquiries relating to the access and use of the resources.
Ideal workflow and use of KB+ and Serial Solution’s Resource Manager
After data inputting, and comparing and contrasting the two systems we propose the ideal workflow to be to input the data into KB+ first before importing it into Resource Manager. KB+ is easier to populate and clearer for the user to understand which field requires which information. Additionally as JISC Collections produce definitive lists of journal titles within the different collections each year it is only necessary to amend the lists to identify the core titles for your institution and check against the previous year’s list for changes of titles within the collections by using the new renewals tool.
For those Serials Solutions customers that decide not to subscribe to KB+, the option would still be available to populate licence information from scratch or by using the templates provided in Resource Manager.
For those who do subscribe to KB+ we recommend that the information about the licences and the changes to identify the core titles and access dates etc. should be enacted in KB+ first and then imported into Resource Manager to save the duplication of work. Unfortunately there are a couple of sections within Resource Manager such as the costing information and administrative details that do not have an equivalent in KB+ and would therefore need to be populated separately.
In an ideal world the definitive lists of journal titles within the collections and their associated licences could then be exported via an API into Resource Manager. The fields not populated by KB+ would ideally be populated by another API to the relevant system or manually. Once fully populated with the information needed, Resource Manager could then help the Information Resources team by playing an active part in the selection, acquisition and renewal of electronic resources through integrated alerts, automated reports and the interlinking of resource information.
In order for this proposed data transfer between the two systems what data needs to be transferred? And how could this be achieved? We recommend that all the data from KB+ would need to be transferred to Resource Manager. However, at the moment the only export of data that is supported by KB+ are CSV files.
Currently it is possible to download the generic subscriptions negotiated by JISC Collections at http://www.kbplus.ac.uk/kbplus/publicExport, it is also possible to export all of the subscriptions taken by your institution, which have been amended to reflect the local holdings as CSV files. Although this export does include the local changes by the institution of the start and end date of the coverage and any embargoes, unfortunately it does not include the identification of the institutions core titles – this information is crucial for the management of electronic journals. If the ideal workflow is to input the data into KB+ and then export it to 360 Resource Manager the exports from KB+ must be able to reflect all the locally made amendments by each institution to the subscriptions.
Although a CSV file export of the License information is not currently available, all JISC collection licences have already been provided to Serial Solutions for inclusion in Resource Manager. However, these licences are the generic ones that do not contain local information – in addition, 360 Resource Manager cannot display the licence terms in the traffic light system available on KB+. Additionally there are a couple of fields within KB+ that contain information relevant to UK HE institutions, such as multiple site access and overseas student’s access, which are missing from Resource Manager. Both systems need to be able to display the same fields – or at least a set of core fields.
In order for the workflow that we have proposed to utilise both KB+ and Resource Manager to their full potential, a couple of developments would need to be developed by both systems. In addition to the generic exports of journal titles in each collection KB+ would need to develop the ability for institutions to export their subscription details and include all local changes in the export. In turn Serial Solutions would need to consider providing the option of importing data into Resource Manager. Although they currently offer uploading information for their customers, the facility to import your own data would be easier and more useful. Another development that would need to be considered it the method of data transfer. Although it is currently possible through CSV files, such exports require further manipulation of the data into an acceptable format before being uploaded as a CSV file into another system, therefore a more suitable method would be through compatible CSV files. However, the ideal method of transferring data from KB+ to Resource Manager and vice versa would be through an API.
We hope that this sort of functionality will be made available by KB+ as it develops and by Serials Solutions as part of Intota. But why stop at APIs between KB+ and Intota – for example, might it be possible for financial information Agresso and administrative information from our subscription agent to be pulled in via API too.