Trust, Transparency and Cultural Change

This week saw the second GOKb Steering Committee meeting with colleagues from KUALI and JISC, as well as the latest KB+ Community Advisory Group meeting.

Whilst both projects are putting in place the technical infrastructure to support shared community approaches to data management, much of the discussion at both meetings was given over to the necessary conditions required for a hard pressed librarian to make the cultural change from working with well known and understood local practices, to adopting new shared services.

How does one initiate such change and more importantly sustain and embed it in the daily grind of getting the job done?

From the discussions it is clear that to be successful KB+ and GOKb will need to earn the Trust of their respective communities:

  • Trust that the accuracy of the data is at least as good as what you have now, if not better.
  • Trust in the capability of new partners to do as good a job as you maintaining data.
  • Trust that the services themselves will be available in the longer term, that their development plans respond to community needs and are worth investing time and effort in.

It is a shared belief of us all that transparency is the best way to achieve that level of trust:

  • putting in place a governance structure and  a group of test institutions that ask searching questions and have very high standards
  • providing information on who is or has been working on title lists – has it only been checked by institutions, or JISC Collections, or the publisher? Or has it been checked by all of them? We also had some interesting discussions about ‘buddying’ subject matter experts from the UK and US as a way of building trust through collaborative work.
  • provide information on the level of certainty we have in the accuracy of the information – flagging concerns and working collectively to build more accurate data sets
  • transparency about the limitations of KB+ at launch – what is in the service, what isn’t and what level of effort an institution may need to put in.

The implication of all of this is that we won’t always be able to tell people what they want to hear, but then again maybe that isn’t such a bad thing. After all the whole basis for KB+ is that the library community is deeply unsatisfied with the current system and decided that the best way to achieve both the quality of data and efficiency savings required by the community as a whole is to change the culture of e-resource management from a local level activity and pursue a shared community driven approach.

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Maximising the Knowledge Base

Last week we completed three days of meetings in London (6-9 July) bringing together expertise from the JISC Collections KB+ and Global Open Knowledgebase (GOKb – http://gokb.org/) project partners from North Carolina State University and the University of Pennsylvania plus technology partners Knowledge Integration (http://www.k-int.com).

GOKb was funded in June 2012 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to build a community-sourced knowledgebase for access to e-resource metadata. It aims to enhance the supply chain lifecycle for libraries in managing e-resources, mobilizing community effort to add quality, timeliness and economies to the library management environment. The project is a joint international initiative between Kuali OLE partners (including Chicago, Duke, Penn and NC State) and JISC Collections.

The UK KB+ project is focused primarily on developing trusted data and workflows for locally negotiated e-resource packages. KB+ recognizes the value of the GOKb international effort in establishing the same quality of data for global titles and packages, covering e-journals and looking beyond to e-books.

The two projects are therefore working together in detail to address globally-identified operational problems, including common transfer formats (KBART-based), data models, rules engine and re-use of the Kuali OLE Document Store repository (https://wiki.kuali.org/display/OLE/OLE+DocumentStore).

The meeting was focused on defining key joint tasks for coming months:

  • Identification and classification of sources of periodic information within the publishing supply chain – for example publisher title lists. Whilst this may sound obvious and straightforward, practitioners are keenly aware of issues regarding format, content and provenance that differ from source to source.
  • Definition of rules and remedial actions relating to the processing of source data – which will range from format standardisation (such as dates) to much more complex update conditions.
  • Specification of an end to end process model and toolset to ingest, transform and process updates with a minimum of human intervention, whilst recognizing the points at which such expertise will be essential (at least in the formative period of operation where rules will need to be optimised and ‘learned’ by the system).
  • Design of a shared data model so that KB+ and GOKb are able to share code (such as the rules base), to present a one-stop approach to import/export in common formats and to identify opportunities for shared services based on once-only management of data.

The partners left London sensing there is even greater scope for collaboration and shared services than was originally envisaged. The challenge will be to convert that opportunity into quality data, code and services, starting with the next joint working group in Chicago in August.

David Kay

KB+ and GOKb project teams in discussion