Pilot access for non-contributors to Copac

Back in February we ran an event to explore the possibility of extending access to the CCM Tools beyond RLUK member libraries: to those who do not contribute their library catalogue data to Copac. In response to a call for interest, a small group of 11 intrepid and keen institutions were represented as we got together in the welcoming environment of SOAS Library in London. Participants were given an introduction to the Tools which was followed by a discussion about their likely requirements and potential ideas for making use of them.

The consensus at the event was that our volunteers hoped to find the Tools useful despite the fact that their own library catalogue data is not currently part of the Copac database.There were many parallels between the requirements of this pilot group and our existing users, who face many of the same issues about space pressures,benchmarking collections and identifying unique and special material.

“… we could …. use it especially to help with our weeding projects, when we need to make tough decisions… and the possibility of discovering some of our books or collections are not as rare or unique as we may have previously believed.”

Aniska Kumra, Goldsmith’s University of London

Since February our pilot group have been experimenting with the CCM Tools: we do appreciate the precious time this has required when there are so many other demands on library staff time. It seemed now was a good time to catch up with some of them to find out how they have been getting on. We got some really positive feedback about the value perceived in the Tools: several colleagues had specific projects planned or in progress already:

“We [have] made a start on significance assessment of parts of our very new special collections using CCM Tools to gather data……….We might extend the CCM Tools brief to our Artists’ Books collection……”

Jane Daniels, Cardiff Metropolitan University

 “We have a significant amount of uncatalogued donations and special collections material I’d like to investigate with the tool to hopefully gather data on how rare or unique (in terms of holdings) some of this material might be.  From data gathered, we’ll hopefully be able to make informed decisions on whether to retain items or not, and if findings can be demonstrated using graphs, it’s likely to have more impact on the decision-making process.”

Sandra Cockburn, Oxford Brookes University

“… we have over 2,000 shelves of books in our external store, as part of assessing what we should continue to hold, [it] will be very helpful to run these against COPAC holdings – we may have rare items we need to hold on to?”

Jo Atkins, University of Leicester

“Potential use cases we are keen to try … are:

Map items we have identified for potential withdrawal …to help inform us on potential disposal or retention decisions.

Use CCM to identify most widely held texts in particular subject areas and then match that against our own holdings to identify potential gaps and weaknesses (we’d be interested to see if we could do this with any areas where ‘library resources’ scores had been lower in last year’s NSS).

…using CCM to identify core collections of texts when we hear of new courses or research areas incoming to the University…”

 Mark Hughes, Swansea University

In addition we got some valuable feedback about suggestions for enhancements, particularly in relation to increasing the scope of available data on Copac: reflecting the diverse needs of the pilot group:

The bigger questions….[it] would be a really valuable tool if COPAC holdings extended to SCONUL Libraries generally, [which] would allow us to look at holdings within regions and locally.”

Jo Atkins, University of Leicester


“… we’d like to see the scope extended, and like to be able to run data against both regional groupings….. or custom groupings of our own (e.g. against our self-identified peer set of institutions).  There would be tremendous value in being able to drill down to do comparisons against groupings like this and we think that would expand the use cases we’d see for CCM by enabling us to do different things.”

Mark Hughes, Swansea University

Thanks to all our pilot participants. We are in the process of building up an evidence base to support extending access to CCM Tools and the feedback we get from them is key to this process.

Keep an eye on this blog for more information later in the summer.

Working with users to improve the CCM interface

Since our last update we have completed the first round of formal user testing of the CCM Tools user interface. The tests were carried out for us by our Jisc colleagues who are experts in user research. They conducted 5 tests involving specific tasks followed by each tester (thanks to our volunteers!), and have presented us with the results.

In summary, the tests confirmed the overall value of the Tools as represented by this info graphic:

CCM User Test Results 2There was plenty of confirmation of the value and credibility of the Tools but as we expected some issues were identified with usability. NB The reason there are no measures against ‘findable’ (i.e. visibility via an internet search) and ‘accessible’ (specific accessibility assessment) is that these areas weren’t covered in the tests.


Several aspects of the interface were well liked i.e. the simple uncluttered layout, and worked well in the tests. Regular users who have built up familiarity with the Tools may be pleased to know that we won’t be throwing everything out and starting from scratch but will be improving the existing design. We have therefore identified those parts which will be retained within our re-design.

One key feature identified was that the visualisation tools (i.e. graphs and maps) were not clearly enough signposted to new users. So we will be featuring these more prominently in a re-design. The graphs themselves also need some work to make them clearer to view, and we will be working to develop clearer calls to action to indicate next steps in a workflow: when and why batch searches should be used for example when too many results are returned.


We are currently working on an initial re-design based on the user testing: this has been clarified following plenty of discussion within the team: we have been experimenting with paper prototypes, and post- it notes plastered on the office walls. Once this is complete it will be re-tested with volunteer testers, and hopefully released to existing users before the summer.

This is the first stage of work on the user interface, reflecting initial priorities. However, we also have a longer term list of recommendations for further developments which we hope to implement in the next phase of work.


So: if you have thoughts (positive or negative) about the CCM interface please let us know and we will incorporate them in future plans. Contact Diana Massam, project manager at:


CCM Tools: moving into service

The CCM Blog has been a little quiet recently but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy!

The CCM team, like all members of Mimas staff here in Manchester, officially became Jisc staff from 1st August 2014. While you may spot Jisc in our new email signatures, we are still working in the same way on our services and projects, with the same colleagues, so it is ‘business as usual’ for our users and collaborators.

We would like to belatedly announce that the CCM Tools project has entered a new phase of activity from September 2014. This will involve us working to develop the Tools, moving from the current pilot project status and ‘beta’ interface to a service ready resource which will become part of the Jisc portfolio of services. Our aim is to be ready to launch as a service in July 2015, with some earlier phased releases to existing users. Key areas of work over the next few months include:

  • Formal user testing of the CCM interface (currently ongoing) undertaken by user experience specialists
  • User interface enhancements reflecting recommendations from user testing work
  • Engaging with potential new user groups to investigate user requirements and use cases
  • Developing additional user support materials based on an analysis of needs
  • Technical development to support user identification and management as we scale up to service
  • Ensuring our activity dovetails with the priorities of the recently published National Monographs Strategy

We will be supported in this work by the existing CCM Board, whose members have kindly agreed to provide oversight and guidance for this phase of work. Board members will ensure we continue to engage with the community and reflect their needs as we move into service.

We are really excited by these developments. Users of the current version of the Tools have provided us with very positive feedback via our survey, at community events and on our user forum about their value in facilitating effective collection management activity.

Jisc has responded to this community support by demonstrating a commitment to the further development of the CCM Tools as a service.

We will be reporting on progress via this blog: so watch this space.

CCM Tools Community Events July 2014

Following on from last summer’s successful CCM Introductory Events, we ran two more community events in Manchester and London this July.  The purpose of the events was to give both new and more experienced CCM users an opportunity to share experience, discuss the broader national context in which the Tools operate and to engage in the ongoing development of the Tools as we move into a new phase of development.

Each event began with a series of case studies from users covering a broad range of experience from getting started to complex ongoing evaluation work.  Each of the presenters has kindly agreed to us making their slides available below:

Helen Faulds, University of St Andrews

Jane Podmore, University of Manchester

Gary Ward, University of Sheffield

Ruth Elder, University of York

Melanie Wood, University of Newcastle

Laura Macpherson, University of Edinburgh

Jennifer Prada, presenting on behalf of David Clover, Senate House Library

Following on from this, Ben Showers from Jisc spoke about the National Monographs Strategy: identifying CCM as a vital piece of the strategic jigsaw in this broader context.  The Strategy looks at developing a national approach to the lifecycle of monographs, and Ben provided an update on the background, methodology, ideas and next steps for this area of work.

A stimulating group discussion followed this, looking at the broader questions identified in Ben’s session, specifically how we can develop a ‘trust infrastructure’ to ensure that institutions can  trust the Tools and each other to work towards enabling robust national agreements and policies for monographs.

After lunch Shirley Cousins, Copac Service Manager gave an update on the new Copac database and how the enhancements will impact on CCM Tools, including a glimpse of the new Copac user interface which was warmly welcomed!

This was followed by a chance for hands-on use of the Tools, either with an CCM-intro-handson-0714 for new users or an opportunity to look into CCM-dedup-hands-on-0714 in more depth.  Delegates also contributed to a focus group, and were asked to contribute their comments, feedback and suggestions on how we can improve the CCM Tools.  We also asked for their ideas for enhanced support features which would help users to get started with using the Tools and continue to support ongoing use to enable them to become embedded in institutional workflows.  The CCM team found the content of these discussions invaluable to inform our future plans.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to and participated in the events, for engaging so positively in all the sessions.  We hope by keeping in touch with each other, delegates will become part of a supportive community of CCM Tools users as they go from strength to strength.


Copac Collection Management User Stories

Following an appeal to registered CCM Tools users at the end of last year, we have had several new short case studies or User Stories posted to our User Forum (available to registered users).  These provide a great snapshot of the kind of activity that people new to the Tools have engaged in since July last year.

What is really interesting about these new posts is that they range from small scale ‘proof of concept’ experiments  to larger projects supporting policy changes or streamlining ‘business as usual’ work flows.  So if you are new to the CCM Tools they are a great place to start to get a taste for the potential benefits they can provide your institution.


A user new to CCM at The University of Manchester undertook a small project checking 3 shelves of books in store, in order to test the potential for identifying possible items to withdraw.  The criteria used were to highlight those items held by 9 or more libraries as possible candidates for disposal.  The experiment indicated a potential for streamlining the decision process.

Another project reported at Manchester was use of the Tools to support a ‘business as usual’ annual weed of open shelves for withdrawal or transfer to store. Previously checks against Copac were made manually so the CCM Tools saved considerable staff time.

At Edinburgh University the Tools were used with reference to the SCURL collaborative retention policy to assess stock currently in an off- site store, for retention or disposal.  By enabling staff to identify unique copies in Scotland, material could be prioritised for possible transfer to the Main Library collection.


Nottingham University reported that the Tools were used to confirm that the library had a significant subject collection developed 20 years ago which had not previously been formally recognised.  Anecdotal evidence from academics about this was confirmed by CCM data.

At St. Andrews University the Tools were used to assess a significant donation to the library, confirming its value. 

The Deputy Collections Manager sums up her conclusions about the value of the Tools for collection analysis:




Warwick University has been working on developing a database of information from a variety of sources to help manage stock.  Data from their reading list system, purchase and publication dates, and usage data, has now been enhanced with information from the CCM Tools identifying the uniqueness of material.



Again at Edinburgh University CCM Tools were used to provide supporting information for a major policy change in the area of Special Collections: namely a change in transfer criteria from a publication date of pre-1850 to pre-1900.



As these short case studies show, the Copac Collection Management Tools can support decision making in a range of areas, and help users to get the data they need quickly and efficiently.  If you have a user story to tell please share it on the Forum: we would be delighted to find out more about what our users are up to.

Interested in finding out more?  Currently access to the CCM Tools and User Forum is limited to project participants and RLUK member libraries. However we are starting to plan for wider access: opening the Tools up to more libraries in the future.  We will post more information about these plans as soon as we can, please watch this space.


CCM Tools User Survey Results

In December we launched a short survey for registered users of the Copac Collections Management Tools.  This was to help us gather feedback as we move into a newly funded phase of work in 2014.  Since the opening up of the Tools [via Beta Trial] to RLUK members last summer we have now registered over 35 users: many of whom are actively using the Tools in their day to day work or for special projects.

We received 18 responses to the survey and would like to thank all those who took the time to take part.  Your responses have provided the CCM Tools team at Mimas with really valuable feedback.  In general the responses were overwhelmingly positive: confirming strong community support for the CCM Tools as we move into a new phase of development.  Some of the highlights from the survey results are:

  • Over 60% of respondents are using or expect to use the CCM Tools for business as usual activity in their workplace.
  • Many users identified future plans for using the tools, indicating a continuing need.
  • Use of the different search forms (Quick, Batch & Keyword) was consistent with over 60% of respondents using all of them.  Batch search was the most popular option.
  • Use of the visualisation tools and graph data were by far the most popular export features.
  • Not many users had used the online help: 50% said they didn’t need it but some weren’t aware of it.  Of those who had used it 2 didn’t find it useful: so we have some work to do to ensure it meets user needs.
  • Over 70% of respondents found the CCM Tools easy or very easy to use.
  • Nearly 60% of respondents had not used the CCM User Forum.  We plan to work with the user community to encourage more use and mutual support over the next few months.
  • In response to the question ‘What do you like most about the tools?’ common themes were: the visualisations; ease of use; import & export functionality; time saving.
  • Suggestions for changes you would like to see included: bigger batch files and UI improvements.
  • When describing the benefits of the tools respondents clearly demonstrated value in areas such as: access to hard data; speed & efficiency; knowledge about the library collection; benchmarking; supporting collection management decisions.
  • Most respondents would recommend the CCM Tools to others.





What Next?

We will be using the results of the survey to inform our work over the next few months.  This will include supporting users to get the most from the CCM Tools through more community events; there will be a refresh of the user interface incorporating user feedback, as well as promotion of the User Forum as an active tool for community support and guidance.  The survey feedback will also help us encourage new usage by providing exemplars of areas where the tools are being applied.

CCM Beta Trial Introductory Events

We recently held events in Manchester and London for members of RLUK to introduce the CCM tools Beta interface and provide some context to those trialling the interface. These included real world case studies, as well as an opportunity for hands on experimentation.

The presentations generated wide ranging discussion about the national context for the CCM tools as well as potential applications. Ideas were flowing as delegates started working with the tools and thinking about how they might be applied within their own local context, with excitement about the opportunities beyond the obvious ones relating to making space on the shelves. This was also an opportunity for us to get initial feedback as delegates began to work with the facilities.

The main elements of the programme are given below; there are links to the presentations as well as background material; hands-on examples are now included on the CCM forum for RLUK members involved in the Beta trial.

The limited scope of current activity means the Beta trial is restricted to RLUK members only, but we will be looking at ways of broadening access as we gather feedback towards the end of the year.

CCM tools Beta Trial: Introductory Event Programme

The National Context

London: Dr. Mike Mertens, Deputy Executive Director and Data Services Manager, RLUK.
Manchester: Michael Emly, Head of Collection Services, University of Leeds Library.

This presentation provided the broader context within which the CCM tools are being used, looking at the changing national landscape as well as the changing role of RLUK.

CCM tools ‘The Bigger Picture’ Slides

Group discussion:

How local decisions can affect the wider national context for collection management. (See Leeds Case study extract).

Case Study 1: Sheffield University

Gary Ward, Head of Capacity Management, University of Sheffield Library.

Gary discussed the way the CCM Tools were used in an actual withdrawal of stock procedure at Sheffield during 2012. The CCM Tools were used to identify last copies amongst titles considered for withdrawal and to identify copies held in eight or more other libraries besides Sheffield, which were then considered candidates for withdrawal. This supported the withdrawal of over 1100 items, freeing significant shelf space, whilst taking into consideration the continued availability of materials for researchers. The presentation covers the background to the case study, the case study itself, the findings and finally some recent developments that have occurred since the case study.

University of Sheffield case study slides

Case Study 2: York University

Ruth Elder, Collection Space Management Co-ordinator, University of York Library.

Ruth addressed the way the CCM tools have been used to support “business as usual” practice at York in the context of creating a “Collection Profile.”  This pulls together a wide range of relevant information into one accessible location in a graphic manner, which can shared with those who it is most relevant to inform their decision making – such as subject librarians, senior library managers and academic departments. The presentation discusses the work flow involved. The Collection Profiles have received a positive reception at York and are now embedded as part of the 5 year Content strategy.  They are encouraging and facilitating discussions between the library and academic departments in regard to evaluating stock selection and use, contributing to more positive collaborative relationships.

University of York case study slides

A more detailed description of the Case Study is also available “Identifying titles for potential purchase using the Copac Collection Management tool

Copac Data: an introduction

Shirley Cousins, Copac Manager, Mimas, University of Manchester.

The way the Copac deduplication is carried out has some implications for the CCM search. This is summarised on the CCM forum for RLUK members. In addition, as a union catalogue Copac is dependent on updates from our contributing libraries, which in turn affects the currency of the picture you see within CCM. Update frequency varies from weekly or monthly for most large institutions, through to historic collections which are and largely unchanging so may only provide an annual refresh. You can check the currency of the data from any institution at:


This page also shows where a library has changed their library system and we are awaiting a reload, so the catalogue has not been updated as recently as would normally be the case.


The hands-on provided an opportunity to follow some structured exercises, plus time for unstructured experimentation. A hands-on worksheet is available to CCM users on the User forum.

Action Planning

There was an opportunity to prepare an Action Plan to take away. You can download a copy of the Action Plan Template for CCM tools.


CCM Beta trial: laying the groundwork

Since the CCM project restarted there has been a lot of background activity across a range of areas, addressing technical and user support issues.

Technical development

The alpha CCM tools UI developed iteratively and went through several incarnations, with variants running in parallel as they were in use by different project members. To take the alpha interface out to a wider audience we needed to move it to a new, stable, location with supporting Web pages. This work has now been completed ready for further testing.

As part of this process we undertook a review of the interface and introduced a number of changes:

  • A CCM microsite has been created;
  • The interface has been tested and changes made to improve stability and make maintenance easier;
  • We have introduced a login to control access to the interface. For ease of implementation in the beta trial the login uses the latest version of the RLUK database login mechanism, created for the new RLUK database currently under development;
  • A number of additions have been made to the facilities, some expanding on trial facilities, others in response to requests arising from testing carried out last year;
  • A review of the interface has been carried out by Mimas staff outwith the earlier stages of the project. This has resulted in a number of changes to wording and improved consistency of presentation.

The new CCM microsite has been developed from the existing Copac stylesheets. The need to introduce new web sites for related but separate purposes has highlighted the issue of site maintenance. Given limited resources site maintenance could easily become a burden which means sites become out of step, updates may be missed etc.

To minimise this problem we are establishing a set of stylesheets that allows us to maintain a Copac ‘family’ of web sites efficiently. Basic layout and functionality will be maintained across all versions of the site by changing a single sylesheet, whilst the superficial appearance of the site in terms of colours, logos etc. will be handled separately for each member of the family. This should allow us to create new web sites as required with relative ease and to maintain them effectively, avoiding duplication of effort and minimising the likelihood of the sites becoming out of step. Once this work is complete the CCM web site will be migrated across to the new stylesheets, though from a user perspective little will change.

Support and training

Something that became clear from our earlier work is that the use of the CCM tools would benefit from more support than we would normally provide for Copac. As an interface it is both less familiar and, in many ways, more complex that the Copac search interface, so we have been looking at various forms of support.

  • We have begun developing online case study exemplars. These will be made available on the web site offering users an opportunity to work through a case study to get an understanding of the workflow for a particular activity and the various tools available.
  • Context specific help pages have been created. These will support users directly, but they also provide content that can be re-used within the case studies, so we’re not duplicating effort. Tying the case studies to the help pages may also assist with familiarising users with the help that is available to them when they come to carry out their own collection management activity.
  • We are at the planning stage for an introductory user ‘training’ session. This will introduce potential users to the CCM Beta trail and provide an opportunity for people to familiarise themselves with the interface and the way the facilities can be used. We are also hoping to gain feedback on the support available and any gaps.

Community collaboration

The CCM tools are a way of supporting wider library collection management activity and decision making. Mimas can support use of the tools in terms of answering questions about the interface, but we are not best placed to look at the planning that goes in beforehand and how the data may be used afterwards. In the wider context it is the library community that has the expertise and we want to encourage users to share experience and provide support for one-another.

With this in mind, we have begun work creating an online user forum. We use WordPress for our blogs so we’re working with bbPress, which is a forum plugin for WordPress. This has been a bit of a learning curve for the programmer for whom this is all new, but it is looking promising and we will be testing it shortly.

At the start we feel it is important to ensure CCM users are getting support so we’re developing a forum engagement plan to try to encourage use of the forum and get it off the ground as the Beta trial begins. Over time we hope users will begin to work together through the forum, supporting each other. We will be logging forum activity and assessing how well this has developed as part of the overall beta trial assessment.

Keeping the momentum going: the next phase of the Copac Collections Management Project

The Copac Collections Management (CCM) tools project is moving into a new phase, made possible by ongoing funding by Jisc and with the support of RLUK. Until the end of 2013 we will be widening participation whilst encouraging community involvement and reviewing user support requirements. During this phase the prototype CCM tools will be made available to RLUK member libraries and we will be working with participants to gain feedback on the tools themselves as well as on their training and support needs. This will feed into sustainability planning and defining the requirements for any initial CCM tools service.

The CCM tools project has now been underway for two years. With Jisc funding, the Copac team at Mimas, RLUK, Leeds University, and other members of the White Rose Consortium have worked together to design and deliver the CCM Tools, and to engage the broader community in understanding their potential. We have also been exploring strategic concerns about ensuring long-term access to print materials for the research community as a whole.

The community response has been overwhelmingly positive, so in phase 3 we are looking at the requirements for moving towards a service environment. In early summer 2013 we will be making the CCM tools available to a much wider range of Copac contributors, in the form of the RLUK member libraries. We will be exploring what user training and support is required, whilst also encouraging peer to peer support, as the expertise for applying the CCM tools lies within the library community.

The work will continue to the end of 2013 and we’ll be gathering feedback and developing our understanding of what the basic requirements for any future service would be in terms of the interface and facilities, as well as the support infrastructure needed to provide the best environment for users.

RLUK CCM phase 3 Press Release

Successful completion of Phase 2

Phase 2 of the Copac Collection Management Tools Project is now complete and this is the first of several posts reflecting on the results. 

Apart from the Final Report, the following key outputs are now available on the website:

  • Proposed Strategy to inform sustainability planning for a prospective service based on the Tools;
  • Report on Retention and Preservation, summarising the work carried out by the Project in this area and considering how the Tools might provide a framework to support a distributed National Research Collection of Monographs;
  • Synthesis of the Case Studies, bringing together the results from 10 separate case studies which looked in detail at how the Tools might support  stock withdrawal, collection profiling and decision-making in conservation and digitisation;
  • Detailed reports on 6 of the case studies, along with workflow documentation intended to help libraries that are new to using the Tools.

Speaking personally, my overriding impression from the Project is of the enthusiasm within the community for what the Copac Tools might offer.  At our December workshop in Leeds, we had 35 participants from 24 different libraries.  For many, this was their first opportunity to find out about the Tools, but there seemed to be no dissenting voices.  They were able to identify with the scenarios presented by the Project partners and could see the relevance of the Tools to day-to-day operations within their own library.  They understood how this could help with space management, improve decision-making and provide a powerful tool for advocacy work with their user community. They also shared similar strategic concerns about ensuring long-term access to print materials for the research community as a whole, and were strongly supportive of using the Tools to avoid the loss of “last copies” nationally.

This last point was picked up in the March workshop on retention and preservation – deliberately planned as a smaller and more focussed meeting with a balanced mix of individuals with relevant expertise.  And again, a powerful consensus emerged.  The UK is fortunate in having very rich print collections, but if they are to continue to remain accessible for use by future generations of researchers, then greater coordination is required:  there was general agreement that we need to be working towards a distributed National Research Collection of Monographs.  The Copac Tools provide an appropriate mechanism for libraries to share information about their holdings and indicate which titles or collections they are committed to retaining for the long term.   Additional information about preservation status, access restrictions or digital surrogates might also be included, where feasible.   The meeting participants also emphasised the importance of libraries feeling confident in the reliability of this data based on a common understanding of the phrase “long term retention”.  So the backing of RLUK was seen as a key ingredient in building community agreement and participation. 

Through these meetings, a consensus has emerged, based on a shared vision for the future management of our print collections.  There is an eagerness to build a more sustainable future.  The challenge now is to translate that into concrete actions and make it a reality.

So, on behalf of the Project Team, a big thank you to all who have been involved, in any way at all, in making it such a success.