Final Project Post

In accordance with the JISC Discovery programme requirements, here is the final post from the Search25 Project Team.

1. Project Outputs

The Search25 Project has produced a number of successful outcomes:

  • A new up and running resource discovery service for library users that provides enhanced information on bibliographic data and local holdings plus data on M25 libraries and how to visit them ( A coordinated publicity campaign for the new service, introducing the concept of “Library Hopping” complete with informational video on YouTube (208 ‘views’ in first 2 weeks) plus supporting posters, bookmarks and travel card holders.
  • The well established structure of the M25 Consortium, its Steering Group and M25 Support Team, will ensure that appropriate support and maintenance mechanisms are in place to deliver and sustain the service. A Service Development Group has been set up (chaired by an M25 Steering Group member) with a remit to assess and monitor usage, identify opportunities  and recommend developments and enhancements to the service. Overall, it will be the responsibility of the M25 Steering Group to consider the wide range of recommendations and future developments arising from the Search25 project as a whole.
  • Successful use of multiple open source software products Xerxes & Pazpar2 to create a new resource discovery service of value to students, academics and researchers. This also provides a platform for future service development.
  • One key strategic output of the Search25 Project is the Search25 Licensing Report produced by SERO Consulting Ltd.. The report is based on work undertaken to ascertain relevance, potential and appetite for open licensing of bibliographic metadata through the new service. Although data in the Search25  context comprises small ‘release of data,’ we believe this represents an important step in the open metadata journey and  that the guidance notes provided through the report will enable the M25 Consortium to facilitate adoption of open licensing by member libraries. It will be the responsibility of the M25 Steering Group to consider the report and guidance and to agree next steps for any broader open bibliographic shared service.
  • A thorough analysis of user expectations of the new service including use-cases compiled  by the University of Sheffield Information School and available as Report on Evaluation of the Search25 Demo System.
  • Development of an API for M25 library data which has potential for re-use by other services. Search25 includes a database with large amounts of information about individual libraries belonging to institutions within the consortium, the subjects they cover, and about access rights agreements between these institutions. This data has been made available to external applications needing information about academic libraries in the South East through an API which enables real-time queries. Search25 itself uses this API for its library information. The API runs on port 5225 of the Search25 website (ie. and the available instructions are described on . There are currently no restrictions on its use.

2. Lessons

There are a number of issues encountered and addressed during the project that may be of interest to others undertaking similar projects or activities:

  • Allow plenty of time and effort to finalise any agreements required by a project. On Search25 we had a Collaboration Agreement for all project partners, a Secondment Agreement for staffing, plus two agreements for sub-contracted work packages. All these are a model of clarity but involved most of the project team and many staff at the lead institution and partners to finalise. The experience of having addressed these fundamental requirements has already paid off in connection with the subsequent E-BASS25 project also funded by JISC. To be able to revise and remodel existing templates saved a significant amount of time in set up of the later project.
  • Z39.50 is still relevant. M25 have successfully utilised Z39.50 for library catalogue searching for over 15 years and continue to do so with Search25. Whilst not perfect, Z39.50 is still a standard part of a library management system, and still can provide required data in different formats relatively easily.
  • The ‘soft touch’ approach by funders for project management and documentation has benefitted the project in that more time can be spent working on the inevitable challenges that arise in such developmental projects, rather than spending time on producing formal reports. The blog postings have been popular among the project team and we hope more widely. It would be good to have some feedback on how far the postings have reached, how much they have been accessed and what level of impact they have had in the wider community,
  • ‘Bring and Share’ style of programme meetings has been very beneficial for networking and exchanging ideas on different approaches taken by other projects in the programme. In many ways, longer or more frequent meetings might be beneficial but this would naturally have to be factored in to project plans.

3. Opportunities and Possibilities

Like all good projects, Search25 as well as successfully meeting its original aims has come up with thoughts and future ideas where further useful work could be carried out:

  • Bibliographic records – Further work could be done within the Search25 system on record matching and merging. Undoubtedly there are improvements that could be made but closely related to this are questions such as :
    • “what is a ‘quality’ bibliographic record?” – different types of user are likely to have differing views on this
    • “what would be the accepted minimal bibliographic record?”
  • Open Metadata. There are opportunities for the M25 Consortium in terms of advocacy and awareness raising of Open metadata, e.g. through provision of M25 web pages providing endorsement for openly licensed metadata, targeted responses to FAQs and a default risk register; for Open license recommendation – adopting the CC0 or ODC-PDDL licence as the default M25 metadata licensing recommendation to institutions and for consortium use; for Exemplar application – taking on an early exemplar action based on open data principles; for example, licensing M25 library access data for reuse and making it available through download and / or API mechanisms;
  • Shared service opportunities. There are possible extended service opportunities, e.g. an M25 enabled shared service to host open bibliographic and other relevant metadata for member libraries; and joined up Discovery and access services in collaboration with bodies such as AIM25, Copac and KB+.
  • Library data API – existence of a similar API to Search25 – The Collections Trust have developed an API to access public (and other) library data. There may be advantages in combining this with the Search25 API to provide enhanced/additional library information to users in the future.
  • Future cooperation with AIM25 and Copac could focus on linked data possibilities and collection management potential. The M25 Consortium intends to take these forward in the forthcoming months.

Post-project Developments and Opportunities

On behalf of John Tuck (Project Director)

Many ideas and recommendations for the future came forward as part of the Search25 project work. It was possible to accommodate some of these into the project itself, for instance a number of recommendations about the Search25 service arising from focus groups and included in the University of Sheffield Information School Report on Evaluation of the Search25 Demo System, itself an output from the project.

Other really interesting findings and opportunities could not be fitted into the scope or timescale of the Project, despite the interest and enthusiasm of all the team members. This blog posting identifies how such developments can and will be taken forward in the future.

1. Open Metadata and Discovery Principles

SERO’s Search25 Licensing report, also a project deliverable, characterized the open metadata work carried out in the project as ‘the start of a significant journey for the [M25] Consortium and for institutions, raising challenges and opportunities around the value of ‘open’ and the real utility of our services and our metadata’. This is a good description as the data in question was mainly bibliographic data available for download and re-use in a manner that would benefit end users, for instance as citation data, including formats used for exchange by tools like Mendeley, Refworks and Zotero. It may be the case that licensing is not applied to such small scale ‘releases of data’; however, it was the view of the project and of a survey carried out by SERO that there was an appetite for awareness raising  and endorsement for openly licensed metadata. Consequently, the SERO report identified four means by which the M25 Consortium could build on project outputs and assist member institutions. Quoting from the Report, these are:

  • Advocacy and awareness raising – building on the interest expressed in the survey…this would be assisted by the provision of M25 web pages providing endorsement for openly licensed metadata, targeted responses to FAQs and a default risk register…
  • Open licence recommendation – adopting the CC0 or ODC-PDDL licence as the default M25 metadata licensing recommendation to institutions and for consortium use…
  • Exemplar application – taking on an early exemplar action based on open data principles; for example, licensing M25 library access data for reuse and making it available through download and / or API mechanisms;
  • Shared service opportunity review – Assessing the feasibility of extended service opportunities; notably of an M25 enabled shared service to host open bibliographic and other relevant metadata for member libraries and of joined up Discovery and access services in collaboration with bodies such as AIM25, Copac and KBplus.

It is the intention that the M25 Steering Group, the Consortium’s policy and strategy group, should consider these proposals as part of its strategic development for 2012/13 – 2015/16. It is hoped that this will include consideration of how the new Search25 service and its data could work with Copac and their collection management tool and how a pilot project or testbed with AIM25 could enhance discovery of, and access to, cross-sectoral content around a specific theme.

2. Search25 Service

As a result of the project, a new resource discovery service called Search25 is now available at and is supported by the M25 Consortium. It completely replaces the InforM25 service and represents a significant improvement upon it. To ensure the sustainability, maintenance and development of the service, the M25 Consortium has set up a Service Development Group which reports to the Consortium’s Steering Group. The group, chaired by Martin Scarrott, Director of Information Services, St Mary’s University College, will ensure that Search25 is sustainably embedded into the Consortium’s work and will also look at the longer term development and sustainability of the service, including:

  • Summative evaluation; user testing of completed system; log file analysis
  • Raising awareness opportunities, including promotion of the service through M25 member institutions, including posters, information leaflets and online materials; developing a network of Search25 champions at member institutions who keep up-to-date on the latest developments and offer advice and support to local users; encouraging the inclusion of Search25 in library web pages and portals; encouraging the inclusion of Search25 in information skills and orientation sessions; continuing to listen to users and evolving the service according to their needs
  • Add new services/functionality  to Search25 in response to user need
  • Review and enhance recommendations arising from the University of Sheffield’s evaluation of the prototype
  • Search25 provides an API giving access to the M25 directory of institutional library information and access agreements. The group may investigate the merging of this information with  overlapping data held by organizations such as SCONUL and Inspire, with the goals of reducing the work involved in maintaining the data and of providing a recognized standard reference point.

3. Wider Strategy

Other areas relevant to the broader Discovery and Library Management System landscape include

a)    Articulate broadly how the M25 Consortium would fit within a UK National Union Catalogue proposition
b)    Develop an understanding of how the Z39.50 based Search25 service fits with new LMS choices at an institutional level and establish whether the service is future-proofed/sustainable.

Use of Copac Bibliographic Data

One of the original key aims and selling points for Search25 was to reuse Copac bibliographic data to improve the quality of data presented to M25 library users obtained via a broadcast Z39.50 search. The Search25 prototype system has been developed and uses Pazpar2 as the system core (search engine, aggregator, matching & merging processes) and Xerxes as the system framework (user interface, query definition and results display). The project technical team have identified a number of significant challenges with being able to identify Copac derived bibliographic data as authoritative data, and subsequent incorporation of that data within the Search25 results.

The relevant findings are summarised as follows (further technical details are available):

  • Pazpar2’s merging process appears to produce records of broadly comparable quality to Copac from the point of view of the user display record. This is particularly the case for widely held material likely to be retrieved from many M25 libraries.
  • to achieve an acceptable search-to-results time delay for users, limits are set on the number of records returned from each library catalogue searched. In turn, this can strongly influence the record matching process in Pazpar2 and subsequent ‘quality’ of merged records.
  • there is no clear (technical) way to replace the bibliographic data in a Pazpar2 merged record with similar data from Copac without developing non-standard changes to the Pazpar2 software, and/or the addition of bespoke code. M25 wish to avoid non-standard changes to open source software and bespoke code to ease future maintenance of the service.

The above issues have been discussed by the Project Team, Project Board and with JISC & Mimas and although not reusing Copac records represents a significant change to one of the project’s original key aims, all agreed that:

  • other required development work is progressed for the remainder of the project period
  • that further work on the configuration of Pazpar2 is undertaken to improve the matching and merging performance of the prototype system
  • that a link is included on the search results page to encourage the user to forward their search to Copac (without re-entering the query details)
  • that the possibility of carrying out a qualitative comparison of Copac and merged Pazpar2 records is carried out post project – what is meant by a ‘quality’ bibliographic record, do different categories of user have a view on this, is there a minimum number of fields holding data that implies ‘quality’, and so on.

One useful unplanned outcome of this work is that Copac is being searched to include those M25 libraries that for one reason or another are not able to offer Z39.50 access to their catalogues, e.g. IWM & the British Museum. Other ideas for the future are to restrict the search to Copac for M25 libraries only, and to adopt a clear policy on whether to merge print and electronic records retrieved.

The project team would like to acknowledge the helpful advice given by Shirley Cousins, Mimas, on the above issues.

Use Cases

I have taken some simple use cases outlined in the report about Search25 produced by Paul Clough and Paula Goodale from the University of Sheffield, Information School. They note typical user scenarios and patterns of behavior, derived from information collected across all three evaluation activities. These scenarios are not exhaustive, but would seem to constitute the majority of potential use of Search25. The use cases can then be applied as part of the ongoing evaluation of Search25, as well as informing the positioning and promotion of the service when it is launched. In each use case, a brief problem scenario is presented, followed by a series of steps taken by the stakeholders involved. We felt they would make for interesting reading, so have placed them on the blog.


Library reference desk

Scenario 1:

A student or other patron contacts the library reference desk because they cannot find a particular item that they need to support their study or work task.

Actor Action
Librarian Asks questions of the patron to ascertain exactly which item is required.
Librarian Checks own catalogue to ensure the item is definitely unavailable
Librarian Uses Search25 to try to locate a copy, showing the patron how this is done. Most likely search is author/title.
Search25 Search results delivered
Librarian Narrows down results by relevant criteria, including date of publication, location (access rights/nearness) and current availability for use or loan
Librarian/Patron Confer on how/where the item could be accessed, using the holdings and circulation data
Librarian Identifies a suitable copy of the requested item and checks circulation data for current availability for access/ loan.
Librarian [optional] May also refer to information on access schemes to confirm rights of the patron.
Librarian Offers options for access: inter-library loan, or visit to third party library
Librarian Emails or prints details of the item and library for reference by the patron
Patron [optional] Further explores Search25 and/or third party catalogue for additional, related items of interest.
Patron Visits library and accesses item(s).


Cataloguing and classification

Scenario 2:

A librarian has a set of items to catalogue for which additional information is sought, especially subject classifications. For some items this might also include other bibliographic data that is not immediately apparent.

Actor Action
Librarian Searches by identifier, ISBN or ISSN (if known).
Search25 Delivers a list of results, with deduplicated records.
Librarian Consults the most likely record and checks the relevant subject and/or other bibliographic data
Librarian [optional] Consults additional, similar records to ensure the right item has been selected, and all of the relevant information identified.
Librarian Inputs subject and bibliographic data into own system.
Librarian Repeats process several times until cataloguing list is exhausted.


Subject research

Scenario 3:

A student or other researcher is looking for items relating to a subject area of interest, for the purposes of writing a literature review or creating a bibliography. They want to locate a comprehensive and diverse range of materials, and then to access them either online or in person in order to complete their task.

Actor Action
Student Searches own library catalogue and/or Google to locate relevant items as a starting point. Notes down relevant authors and/or keywords.
Student Finds what is immediately available via these resources and assesses what is not yet covered.
Student Uses Search25 to explore the topic further. Searches by keyword and/or author. May also wish to input a date range.
Search25 Search results are delivered.
Student Refines search results using facets and/or additional search steps.
Student [optional] Sorts results to enable easier identification of relevant items.
Student Reviews the results/records for potentially relevant items and prints, emails or exports details to reference management software.
Student Re-assesses gap in knowledge and reformulates search to look for more items.
Student Repeats process as before.
Student [optional] May also use available information to arrange inter-library loans and/or library visits, as in scenario 1, above.
Student [optional] May also consult AIM25 results, as available.


Visiting other libraries 

Scenario 4:

A researcher is visiting London and wants to use one or more libraries which hold collections of interest to their subject area.

Actor Action
 Researcher Searches for libraries with holdings in a specific subject area. In Search25 (in the absence of Visit a Library information) this might entail a keyword search.
Search25 Search results are delivered.
Researcher Reviews results, including, items’ fetched/found data.
Researcher [optional] May use sort and/or facets to aid the reviewing process.
Researcher [optional] May also consult AIM25 results, as available.
Researcher Identifies libraries with large and/or interesting collections.
Researcher Checks access rights at target libraries
Researcher Prepares for visit [1]. Looks up and prints/emails location information. Checks for other libraries in the vicinity.
Researcher Prepares for visit [2]. Selects and prints/emails/exports a list of items of interest. Checks current availability in holdings and circulation data.





Library Hopping with Search25

I have been meaning to read Campo Santo by W.G Sebald for a number of years. On Wednesday I had an opportunity to get my hands on the book. Campo Santo brings together pieces written over a period of some twenty years touching in typical Sebaldian fashion, on a variety of subjects. The prose section – a series of excursions around about Corsica at the beginning of the book – especially seemed to speak to my own work over the past few years.

There was a reason for finally being able to borrow the book – the recently completed library information that has now been inserted into the Search25 prototype. I found browsing Search25 remarkably intuitive, as I am sure all researchers will. Enabling me to search for all of Sebald’s work held at libraries across London and the South-East. I found it extremely useful for doing a literature search, even finding things that I had not come across before. Campo Santo was available at a number of M25 institutions. The most convenient being UCL. I set out in the afternoon towards UCL, with the location of the book, availability and status to hand. I checked the library information, which told me where the main library was located on Open Street Map. About a ten minute walk from where I was at LSE.

There is something odd about walking into an institution that is not your own – in many ways it is like wandering into a different school for a teenager. A slight feeling of unease pervades amongst new surroundings, odd traditions and traits that you are not quite used to affect, and you gain a sense of being out of place. Once at the counter you sheepishly ask if it is OK to use the library and borrow books. I had my Royal Holloway library card with me and some identification with an address on. I presumed that this would be enough.

I would be thwarted in my attempts to get hold of Campo Santo again.

In order to do some library hopping it is necessary to keep a book of passport photographs on your person. I had not realised that each University of London library would require me to create an account with them.

Being the first person to use Search25 and failing to get my hands on a book was frustrating. This initial excursion was therefore an important exercise before starting on the Search25 film.

The following evening I returned to the main library at UCL with passport photos and completed a membership form – this took about five minutes. I then used the information provided on Search25 to locate Campo Santo. It was exactly where it should have been. Campo Santo is now on my bookshelf until 26th September.

There are many more excursions to undertake over the coming weeks. At least now I know what researchers can expect when using Search25 to do some library hopping.

After a little excursion to UCL, the first chapter of Campo Santo, A Little Excursion to Ajaccio, seemed somehow apt.

Communications and Marketing Strategy: Project Exit Strategy Discussion Points

Executive Summary

• our unique selling point is that it is a regional search not a national search – therefore there are a range of libraries relatively close together, making it easy to locate and importantly obtain materials; this is how to position the service, and a point of difference from other union catalogues (need to stress geographical element and range of institutions: search 57 libraries in London and the South-East)

• from our research we have found that the new service is a vast improvement on the original service; all the focus group feedback has confirmed that – meaning usage should be far higher once people know it exists; aiding all M25 institutions: this also needs to be stressed (improvement on the original service)

• we have three types of users that we need to market SEARCH25 towards:

1. librarians 2. students 3. researchers

• librarians have indicated in focus groups that they would encourage use once they have received marketing materials – user guides, posters, bookmarks, flyers, promotional film/ first-time user film (to get SEARCH25 in to study skills courses/research methods courses – as well as hard copy promotion at the help desk)

• we need to sell it to academics and students directly – obscure items for researchers/ better grades for students – also the ease with which you can locate an item anywhere across London and the South East, and in many cases borrow the item (online presence, print materials at the help desk, presence on campus at freshers week)

• we need to develop a centralised strategy but deliver it through local targeted methods; while continuing to research and analyse to ensure our strategy and methods stay relevant and engaging – this involves finding out about each library and marketing appropriately at each of them, and linking in with their library events and day-to-day work


• we do not want to market it at students solely and devalue the brand with gimmicks – needs to be marketed as a serious research tool

• needs to be aspirational – a service that allows students and researchers to have access to a wealth of varied resources from many world-renowned institutions that are tightly packed geographically; library hopping, cultural experience, obscure interesting items that are not available at your home institution

• we need a consistent message, which needs to be rolled out across all 57 institutions, which can be expanded and adapted in due course

• the SEARCH25 logo (the circle represents the motorway) needs to appear on everything along with the URL and a tag-line (London and the South-East on your Bookshelf) – bookmarks/flyers/business cards/posters/oyster wallets, for example

• on most things our description needs to appear (SEARCH25 provides access to the library catalogues of 57 academic and research institutions, across London and the South-East)

• on most things our mission needs to appear (Our goal is to make it easier to discover and obtain resources at any library in the M25 Consortium of Academic Libraries; enabling users to benefit from the wealth of materials available to them)

• for certain things this can be used (Ever struggled to find the book or journal you wanted? Tired of the same old surroundings? Try Library Hopping! Search 57 world- renowned academic and research libraries across London and the South-East today!)

Communications and Marketing Tools 

• if we get librarians interested in the service they will point students/academics in the direction of SEARCH25 (this is what all the data from the focus groups has suggested)

• after speaking to librarians they would like some promotional copy to enable them to encourage usage of SEARCH25:

• oyster wallets fit the brief of the SEARCH25 project, implying travel between libraries (these are our primary marketing materials and will be handed out by librarians at the help-desk to promote the service at all 160 site-libraries)

• inside the oyster wallets will be a business card that promotes the M25 Consortium as a whole – these will be good marketing for the M25 Consortium and promote the new service to users, showing all member libraries what we are doing

• supplementing the oyster wallets are bookmarks, which will also sit on the help-desk and will be useful for librarians in promoting the service – again they reflect the purpose of SEARCH25, and are useful rather than simply eye-catching (and again they promote the M25 Consortium as a whole and tie in with the wider brand and current M25 marketing)

• further to the oyster wallets and bookmarks we need to produce some posters – these will be placed around each of the 160 site libraries, 3 per library (again this is something that librarians have told us would be useful from the market research we have done, and again they also promote the M25 Consortium as a whole and tie in with the wider brand and current M25 marketing)

• librarians have told us that they would like to move towards having promotional and user films in library inductions and research methods courses (the film would be a short promotional film, in which users get shown how to use the service and how easy and fun it is to travel between libraries)

• further to this there are a number of things we can do for free to help promote the service (some of these are future and ongoing things that can be done over time, others can be done right away):

a link on the site to a user-guide which students can print out as first-time users is the initial thing that librarians could either print out and have a few to hand or tell students about

provide each library with things that they can print out themselves – posters to stick up on notice boards near the help desk (a poster saying “have you tried SEARCH25?” for example)

provide each library with a code of best practice regarding how to get students and academics to use the service – if there is some hard-copy to hand (oyster wallets/bookmarks) the librarian could point the student/academic to the site easily

visit each library in turn for a day and promote the service on campus with interesting items from a number of institutions

encourage students to ‘like’ the service on Facebook and share their experiences of using it – and link this back to the SEARCH25 homepage

have a rolling Twitter Feed on the SEARCH25 homepage with news – encouraging students to share their experiences

attend Freshers Week at a number of institutions – explain to students that the more widely you search the better grades you are likely to get and hand out promotional copy – play the film on a loop showing how easy it is to locate and obtain items

get member institutions to put a link on each search station in the library and on their library homepages to SEARCH25? Can’t find what you are looking for… tried SEARCH25?

send emails out to mailing lists (librarian/archive/academic) giving details of a launch date and information regarding the service

encourage internal emails to be sent out on launch date to students and staff at M25 institutions and internal promotion at M25 institutions on their homepage, Facebook, and Twitter

keep a blog going but in a different form; aimed at users

M25 consortium skills courses/seminars aimed at students explaining SEARCH25 and our other services – AIM25 for example

articles/advertisements about the service in magazines and newspapers (student/library specific)

Expand the Market to

Potential to expand useage beyond M25 member institutions – need to speak to students/ researchers/librarians from outside London and the South-East, as many often visit London to use the British Library and would certainly use SEARCH25 if they knew it existed:

linking to other union-catalogues in the North or Scotland or National ones so that librarians/students/researchers can do a targeted search of the South-East?

articles and advertisements in nationwide student, librarian, and academic, magazines, journals, newspapers, and mailing lists?

send information about the service to subject specific humanities based magazines/journals – this is where we envisage the highest SEARCH25 use to come from according to our market research?

send info/printable copy to academic libraries that are not currently within the M25 consortium but are around the South-East/commutable/large institutions with high numbers of postgraduates and researchers?

make sure there is information about SEARCH25 (marketing copy) at the British Library and Senate House along with the smaller more specialised institutions that people travel long distances to visit?

Concluding Remarks

I envisage a lot of the ideas discussed being used. Most are things that I can do at zero cost. I think all of the ideas could potentially be used – dependent upon budget and time constraints (hard-copy promotional materials should be sent to a few libraries prior to the official launch to see whether they have an affect). We also need to work out what is working well for us and what is not – which will require some log-data analysis/Google Analyse to see which institutions are using the service and which are not and the reasons for this (each institution will require a slightly different method of marketing – although once they have all received a starter pack I would expect them to then get back to me to work out what else we could provide them with and how best we could encourage greater usage of SEARCH25) – cross-referencing print media campaigns with visits to the website.

Further Suggestions

Email me with any further suggestions or anything that needs clarifying:

James Riding SEARCH25 Project Officer

SEARCH25 institution survey highlights

The SEARCH25 survey has highlighted common priorities and interests across the range of member institutions.

Completing in early June, we ran an online survey which M25 member institutions were invited to complete. The short survey was an opportunity to assess opinions on, and their appetite for, potential actions arising from the SEARCH25 project. We sought feedback on the following:

  • Appetite for jointly adopting an open licence for bibliographic metadata delivered though the SEARCH25 service in line with the Discovery open metadata principles
  • The potential relationship between M25 Consortium and a National Union Catalogue service
  • Whether, and how, the Z39.50 based SEARCH25 service fits with new LMS choices at an institutional level
  • Opportunities to make cross-domain links, notably with the AIM25 archival consortium

The survey received a total of 37 complete responses from a representative range of institutions and the overall tone of those responses was highly supportive of the approaches proposed. Highlights from the survey results include the following:

Open Licensing

  • Nearly three-quarters of respondents indicated that their institution would ‘Definitely’ or ‘Highly likely’ endorse the application of an open licence to records downloaded from SEARCH25.
  • 90% of respondents welcomed the idea of the M25 Consortium taking a lead on applying an open licence, rather than leaving it to individual libraries.
  • More than three-quarters would welcome the production of an advisory paper to help them with their decision-making regarding open metadata licensing, including the proposed choice of open licence.
  • Specific clarifications requested included the following:
  • - “We currently purchase MARC records [...] for most new acquisitions, and we are unsure as to the copyright situation regarding the re-use of these records.”
  • - “How we could suppress sub-sets of records that we might not wish to be made fully open?”
  • - “How would we ensure that the data would [remain] current and accurate once it has been exported?”

Union Catalogues

  • More than 75% of respondents indicated that working with RLUK to look at how more libraries might contribute to/benefit from the Copac service was either definitely worthwhile or likely to be worthwhile

Library Systems

  • Responses to the question of whether institutions expected to change their Library Management System between now and the Summer of 2014 indicated that over 60% are planning no changes during that period, while just over a third of respondents indicated that change of LMS is possible, likely or definite during that same period.
  • About a quarter of respondents indicated that their library has implemented a single search and around a further third of institutions have plans to do so.

Cross-domain resource discovery

  • Maximising opportunities for users to access resources across archives, museums and academic libraries within the M25 Consortium area was indicated as a high or medium priority for nearly three-quarters of the responding institutions.
  • Developing a single search across M25 libraries and AIM25 archives was a ‘high priority’ for 48%, being the top cross-domain interest. A one-stop access directory covering libraries, archives and museums was almost as highly prioritised. By comparison, establishing shared vocabularies and authorities was a medium to low priority for the majority.

What next? Our priority is to finalise recommendations and guidance about open metadata licensing based on the survey feedback. This is a key project deliverable. We’re also developing recommendations to the project steering group based on the survey responses.


The M25 Library Data API

So far this blog has talked about two components of the new Search25 system: the Pazpar2 z39.50 interface, and the Xerxes search interface. The third component is the replacement for the Inform25 Find a Library and Visit a Library services, which give information both about the physical location of individual libraries and about access agreements by M25 Consortium members. This information is currently held in two databases, together with data on library subject specialisms used in the Inform25 search tool.

For the new service it seems simplest to remove this partial duplication and build everything around a single database. The combined database currently consists of 10 tables, with a few more still to be designed. Xerxes needs access to some of this data both to allow selection of the libraries to search and to provide information about access to the libraries for which results are found. But the database is very specific to the M25, and building it directly into Xerxes runs counter to our goal of having as generic an instance of Xerxes as possible.

One answer to this problem which we are currently experimenting with is to build a separate system around the database, accessed via an API. Xerxes then needs to know about the API, but not the detailed internal structure of the database. A positive side-effect of this may be to help avoid a problem which has recurred with systems providing information about library access, such as Find a Library or FindIt! – it is difficult to justify the costs of keeping data up-to-date where that data is not part of a wider shared ecology. For that reason the API will be a public one, in the hope that the data can be re-used elsewhere.

To minimise the work needed to create the API, standard REST conventions are being used: data is available over HTTP using URLs which describe the resources being fetched. For example, the URL /institutions/kcl/libraries returns information about the libraries in King’s College, while the URL /schemes/sconul_access/institutions returns information about all institutions which have joined the SCONUL Access scheme. The API is being documented in Dokuwiki (along with the rest of the Search25 project).

Data is output in multiple formats: currently JSON and XML, but at a future date RDF should be possible, allowing connection with similar schemes such as the ARCHON archive information system. ARCHON data is already made available through SPARQL by the National Archive, and a similar service could potentially be provided for the M25 data.

Rather than writing a complete system from scratch, an existing lightweight web framework has been selected – Sinatra. There are several similar frameworks available, in a range of languages (Sinatra uses Ruby). The main ground for choosing Sinatra over the others was expected longevity – Sinatra is one of the components used in the new UK government portal at which should guarantee support for some time to come.

Getting the most out of the project : Survey of M25 Members

Followers of the SEARCH25 project blog will be aware of the primary project objective to significantly enhance the existing InforM25 discovery services. Benefits will accrue through a new architecture; inclusion of records derived from Copac; aggregation and enhanced matching of multiple resource records; provision of live holdings and circulation data; and a platform to deliver enriched services in the future.

It is a priority to ensure that the project builds on its formal outcomes by working with the M25 membership to exploit immediate and emerging opportunities arising from the work. Put simply we’re looking for SEARCH25 to act as a catalyst for M25 service development rather than as an end in itself.

Following on from the SEARCH25 Open Metadata Licensing workshop (reported here in an earlier post) and meetings with the AIM25 archival team, we have developed a short survey in order to assess M25 member opinions and appetite for actions potentially arising from the project. Some of the proposed steps are simple and small but may be start of a significant journey for the consortium and for institutions, raising challenges and opportunities around the real utility of our services and our metadata – as highlighted by Chris Banks in her recent reflection on practice at the University of Aberdeen.

The workshop group therefore agreed we should get member feedback on the following:

  • Assess appetite within the consortium for jointly adopting an open licence for bibliographic metadata delivered though the SEARCH25 service in line with the JISC Discovery principles (
  • Consider the potential relationship between M25 Consortium and a national National Union Catalogue service
  • Understand whether and how the Z39.50 based SEARCH25 service fits with new LMS choices at an institutional level
  • Explore potential opportunities to make cross-domain links, notably with the AIM25 archival consortium

We now have an online survey covering those topics so we should be grateful if members would complete a single management response by close of Monday 4 June. The questions are divided in to four sections as set out above and should take no more than 15 minutes to complete. An introduction to the survey plus a printable copy of the questions can be found at