KB+ has achieved a huge amount, predominantly through central community management. The vision was always two fold, though, central community management AND shared community activity. It is worth asking the question as to whether we could or should leverage even more value from KB+ in terms of shared community activity?
The first challenge is how to make KB+ more comprehensive in its package and title coverage. The team has done a fantastic job with the nesli2 packages, etc., but a comprehensive centrally managed knowledgebase may require a different scale of operation. Rather than just building up a larger centralised team (important though that is!), is there still potential for more shared community activity here, an issue the Community Advisory Group debated extensively last year?
For example, the ability to upload spreadsheets you are working on to share with other KB+ community users. You could then iron-out some of the main problems using your shared knowledge across institutions according to your own timescales. A draft (non-verified) version could then be made available for the KB+ community in a timely fashion. This draft version could then be reviewed in due course by the main central KB+ community team for final clean-up, verification and formal adoption into the main KB+. Another by-product of such an approach is that a ‘virtuous circle’ may be created as contributors will naturally begin to feel more ownership of KB+ – they will talk of ‘being part of KB+’ rather than ‘subscribing to KB+’ – a change of discourse we would do well to adopt going forward.
Such an approach might help to ‘fast track’ some packages that may otherwise be on the central community management ‘waiting list’ and could not otherwise be looked at for several months. So the scaleability of KB+ in terms of the comprehensiveness of its coverage is one of its challenges and success in this area will have a significant impact on community take-up and future sustainability.
Another key challenge for the service is how to make the KB+ site really “sticky”, i.e. the first port of call for e-resource librarians and library staff involved with ERM processes. My utopian vision is to see KB+ being so attractive to library staff involved in ERM that they want to log in first thing in the morning and keep it open all day.
For example, I’d like to see the KB+ dashboard including more portal functionality to other services too. The integration with other services such as JUSP and elcat will obviously help with this, making KB+ more of a one stop shop. But here are a few other ideas off the top of my head:
1. Ability to add an Alert (and attach a spreadsheet) without necessarily tying it to an existing KB+ package – that way we can start to discuss packages and journal titles not yet on KB+ (that would also help with prioritising)
2. An instant messaging service and/or online chat service between users with private or shared messaging
3. An RSS feed you can customise for relevant mailing lists and E-resource related blogs:
4. A twitter feed – already on homepage but not on Dashboard
5. A log file to show real time ‘who else is working on’ and ‘what others are editing’ with optional display of institutions (institutions could opt-in to having their information displayed)
6. Software enhancements list with ‘Me too!’ and/or voting functionality
7. Data and packages priority list with ‘Me too!’ and/or voting functionality
8. Headline reports shown in graphical format
In other words, functionality to make KB+ feel more of an interactive three dimensional, living, evolving community (not just a service) – i.e. very different from other systems. Such functionality could potentially be achieved through APIs.
We have to be able to confidently answer the question – what makes KB+ different from other services? In answering that, we need to get our mindsets into the roles of the library staff who administer ERM activities and the information they need to be scanning and reviewing in ‘real time’. They may have a different vision from the one I have articulated above, so let’s hear more about their needs going forwards. What is stopping some E-resources Librarians from embracing KB+?
Although there is no guarantee that functionality to support this kind of additional community activity can be included until after the July 2013 release, it seems an appropriate time to be considering this if we are to make KB+ as attractive as possible to the community and ensure library directors will subscribe.