Category Archives: museums

What we’ve been up to….

After a year or so of planning, the last few months have been gratifyingly practical. Work is now racing forward on many fronts. With this blog post I’ll attempt to explain the various strands of work and how they all fit together to attempt to realise the JISC and RLUK resource discovery taskforce (rdtf) vision.

First a bit of background. The vision sets out an approach that we will be pursuing up until the end of 2012. As our work is more about defining this approach, rather than something firmer like an architecture, we need to be able to learn as we go along. Therefore the work between now and December 2012 has been split into 3 iterative phases. We are currently in the 1st phase that runs from January to July. This phase is all about laying the groundwork for the next two phases so the 2 main outputs of phase 1 are data that we can reuse in phases 2 and 3 and definitions of approaches for issues like metadata, technical architecture and sustainability.

Phase 1 activity

Institutional projects

We have funded 8 projects to investigate new approaches to making metadata about the collections of libraries, museums and archives available in a way that enables the metadata to be reused to enrich the original collection and make it more visible. Many of these projects are investigating a linked data approach. The 8 projects are summarised on the JISC website and also in the newsletter mentioned below. Each project has a blog so it is easy to follow along with any that interest you.

Existing aggregation projects

There are 2 projects at Edina and 2 projects at Mimas that are working with Copac, ArchivesHub, Suncat and Go Geo. The projects are all focused on making it easier for people to reuse the data from these services, they are just getting started and more details will be available soon…..

Studies and reports on specific issues

We have commissioned a few reports to address specific challenges involved in the vision. There have been 3 of these so far:

Management framework

The management framework project is the central project that helps bring together all of the strands of work above into one cohesive whole. The framework project has 3 headline purposes:
  1. To gather together the knowledge and lessons from the projects above and to turn it into advice and guidance for libraries museums and archives
  2. To produce a website to enable developers to engage with reusing metadata and to enable other stakeholders to follow progress and identify opportunities
  3. To provide advice to JISC and partners on the infrastructure required to realise the vision
The project has a website which describes the deliverables in more detail. It is a very collaborative project as can be seen from the people involved. Specifically, the framework project is supported by 2 advisory groups. One focused on technical issues and one on management issues.


The management framework project works extremely closely with a dedicated communications and relationship management project. The purpose of this project is to work with the vast range of stakeholders involved in this work (see the table in the implementation plan) and to ensure that we keep on top of their needs, issues and use cases. The project will also provide progress updates and information to help information professionals see how this work can benefit their collections and end users. You can see the first newsletter on rdtf progress on the site now. You can also use that site to sign up for future issues. If you are lucky, you could grab one of the few remaining invites to the April event this project is organising to explore the issue of open data for libraries, museums and archives.
The picture below illustrates how these projects all fit together. As you can see the management framework sits at the centre of the implementation and we’ll use this project and their website to make it easy for people to follow the progress with the work and to engage with any elements that interest them.
Alongside all of this work, I remain busy behind the scenes trying to ensure that the work to implement the rdtf vision takes into account relevant work happening in other nations and with other content types.
Phase 2 will start after July and the intention is to focus on the issue of aggregation. The exact shape of phase 2 will be determined by the work of the projects in phase 1 but we’ve started the planning process already and I’m excited by some of the ideas that are emerging.

Addressing some technical questions posed by the RDTF vision

The resource discovery taskforce (RDTF) vision poses a number of challenging technical questions such as:

  • What is an aggregation?
  • How do institutions contribute open metadata?
  • What metadata and standards do we use?
  • How do you build interfaces that developers will be keen to use?
  • What needs to be done to existing services and aggregations?

Implementing the resource discovery taskforce vision largely depends on addressing these challenges. Fortunately there are a lot of smart people in the HE community so I fancy our chances. Paul Walk and Adrian Stevenson of UKOLN are managing a project called the IE technical review which has been set up to examine these kind of issues. As part of this project Paul and Adrian pulled together a group of experts to discuss the technical side of the RDTF vision. You can read a summary of the meeting on the IE technical review blog.

The meeting was very productive and the group came up with a list of recommendations. We are issuing a number of calls for funding designed to further the RDTF implementation plan in the next month and the recommendations have been written into these calls. We expect to fund a number of different types of project aimed at institutions, existing aggregations and at overall management of the open metadata and aggregations. These projects will take these outline recommendations and build on them to attempt to answer the big questions we face.

Launch of vision

After a year and a half’s work by the resource discovery taskforce our vision was launched at a JISC and UKOLN event called Survive or Thrive.

The vision focuses on the aggregation of metadata about library, museum and archive collections to allow the creation or enhancement of innovative resource discovery and library collection management service. The vision paper can be downloaded from the IE repository.

The vision is designed to steer work up until the end of 2012. The implementation plan describes the work to realise the vision in more detail. JISC will be funding projects that contribute to the implementation plan. However achieving the vision will only be possible by working with a wide range of stakeholders and the work of those people will also contribute to the implementation plan.

The implementation plan has a page on this blog and it will continue to be developed and will track all work relevant to the plan.

If you want to learn more about the taskforce you can explore the reports from each meeting or read about related work by browsing the pages menu on the right hand side. Future posts will go into more detail about the background and the context for this work as well as reporting on progress with the implementation plan.

Final meeting of the taskforce

The final meeting of the Resource Discovery Taskforce will take place on the 2nd of December. The focus of the meeting will be reeaching a consensus on the final vision and starting to develop an implementation plan to work towards achieving the vision.

Once the final meeting is over, the vision will be communicated to the rest of the community and a working implementation plan will be created. This will be a living document and partnerships with stakeholders will be developed to enable the work in the implementation plan to take place.

Documents from the meeting will be available from this blog.

Welcome to the Resource Discovery Taskforce blog

JISC and RLUK have set up a taskforce to discuss what needs to be provided to help people discover and access items from Higher Education Libraries, Museums and Archives throughout the UK.

The taskforce first met in November 2008 and it will run until December 2009. We have had 3 meetings so far with one more planned in December 2009. The aim of the taskforce is to produce a vision for resource discovery and delivery across UK HE museums, libraries and archives.

Once the taskforce has produced its vision, an implementation plan and communications plan will be produced to help the HE sector acheive the vision set out by the taskforce.

The blog will be used to distribute information about the taskforce and all of the documents that the taskforce produces.

This blog includes pages that describe:

  • The scope and terms of reference of the taskforce.
  • The membership
  • A summary of meetings 1 – 3

See the links on the blog header for these pages