Investigation of training needs

You are invited to participate in a survey that forms part of a research project investigating the training needs of current and potential KB+ users.

The research is being conducted by Jo Alcock Consulting on behalf of the KB+ team.

The survey asks about your training needs as well as asking for feedback on current training materials. The full survey should take no more than 10-15 minutes of your time.

The survey is available at and will remain open until Friday 10th February.
If you have any questions please contact

KB+ One Day Workshops

New for this year are our KB+ One Day Workshops. We ran 2 last month in London; full details on upcoming workshops & booking form are available on our events page.

During the day we provide demonstrations of key features of KB+ followed by a set of exercises with copies of relevant user guides. Examples of the type of exercise include setting up a subscription, exporting a licence etc. We are keen to ensure participants have valuable practical hands on experience of the system to help gain a better understanding of KB+ and its potential. The exercises also provide the perfect opportunity for the data mangers to chat to participants, answer questions and see how KB+ is being used.

In the morning we focus on the role KB+ plays in recording, managing and tracking licences and in the afternoon we look at creating subscriptions, the renewal process and compare packages tool. Each workshop begins with introductions allowing the participants to say what they want from the day to ensure we cover the relevant information.

We also have guest speakers at the workshops. At the first workshop we had a talk from Robbie Ireland about the SafeNet project, “SafeNet is a shared post-cancellation access (PCA) service for UK academic libraries that builds a UK archive collection and clarifies entitlement rights”. It was encouraging to hear they plan to use KB+ as one of the authoritative data sets.

At the second workshop Ben Taplin, Licensing Specialist from Jisc, gave an introduction to ONIX-PL licences. I was interested to see how in picking out the key terms from the dense licence text helped improve the clarity of the key properties within the licence and how it also provided the opportunity to compare licences. It was a useful introduction to demonstrating the licence comparison tool in KB+.

I have really enjoyed the workshops, its been great to meet people, chat about e-resources and share experiences. Initial feedback from those who attended has been also been positive. Hopefully having the time away from work, the opportunity to focus on KB+, meet other institutions using KB+ and support from the data managers on hand provides the right environment to explore the benefits KB+ can provide in managing e-resources.

So if  you use KB+, are new to it or just interested to find out more then why not sign up to one of our workshops or webinars on our events page.


Focus Groups in March

Focus GroupsWe ran 3 focusgroups in March looking specifically at some of the common pages used in KB+ as well asking for general feedback and ideas.

I was pleased to attend the London meeting not only as an opportunity to feedback on the system from a datamanager point of view but also to meet those using or thinking about using KB+.

At the focus group we were presented with multiple screenshots of the system to comment on which helped focus the discussion. The paperwork (all 477 sheets) from the 3 focus groups has now been collated and entered on a spreadsheet with 998 comments from 45 attendees.

These comments will now be de-duplicated and split into two groups

  1. Quick necessary fixes – to be added to the development pipeline straight away
  2. A list of enhancements and improvements which we will be asking the community to vote on.

We wanted to thank everyone who attended for their time and valuable feedback. All your comments and ideas are a great help in planning how we develop KB+.


Jisc Inform article

Jisc Inform

Jisc Inform, the charity’s termly online magazine, published a look at KB+ in their spring edition. It includes a round-up of the work so far and a look into the future of KB+.

You can sign up to receive Jisc Inform and keep up-to-date with all things education, research and technology!

New Package Alerts

You can now easily track which new packages are added to KB+ either by email alerts or RSS feed.

Each time a new package is added, details are posted to a KB+ discussion forum at You will then see a list of the new packages added and the date.

To subscribe by email you need a login for the KB+ Discussion boards, details on how to register are available at Once you have logged in, go back to the forum at and you will see a ‘Subscribe’ icon (an envelope) at the top right of the forum display. Click on this to get email updates.

To subscribe using an RSS feed, use the following URL No login is required to access the RSS feed.

New Packages alert

For more information on using the KB+ Discussion boards, please watch the screencast below and see the support page on Communication and Collaboration

Indicative KB+ workflows – reflections from UEA

At UEA we’re still KB+ novices, but we thought we’d share some of the KB+ workflows which we think will be relevant to our institution.

*Other institutions are warmly invited to add to the list or make corrections*

Workflow 1: Creating and recording subscriptions for all our nesli2 and related deals.

This can be done for existing and past years and includes adding titles (entitlements) and editing issue entitlement dates manually where necessary. This gives us an accurate online record of our key packages and their holdings. We can potentially do this for all packages in KB+ (and at package level for any subscriptions not in KB+). So this is helpful in gradually replacing data otherwise stored in our filing cabinets.

Workflow 2: Adding and viewing core subscriptions, including cancellation rights.

This gives us an historical record of our core subscribed titles for particular years, as when entering core titles we are able to specify if they are Print only, Print+Electronic or Electronic.  The workflow also ensures that entitlements around core individual journal subscriptions, on which “big deals” are based, are not lost in the noise of the generic entitlements for the big deal package. This functionality also makes it easy to review our list of core titles annually to claim any cancellation entitlements that may be part of the current “big deal” package agreement.

Workflow 3: Checking past entitlements.

The Title List functionality includes backfile and frontfile subscriptions, so we can search and drill down for details about individual titles we have subscribed to in the past (making sure we have left the ‘Subscriptions valid on’ blank so as to select ‘all years’). Then we can use the ‘Full Issue Entitlement’ details to view data about any potentially missing past entitlements.

Workflow 4:  Using the Titles functionality and data to populate our link resolver.

From the Titles option, we can select packages and our local entitlements data using the filters and can then get a.csv export. The format needs manual editing to be in the correct format for our link resolver upload (we understand this functionality is being worked on by the KB+ team to become more automated).

Workflow 5: Add Licenses that apply to our subscriptions and view/amend the summary data.

These are simple to select and present helpful summary data about what is, and is not, permitted, under our current licenses, e.g. Walk-In Users, Course Packs, Interlending, concurrent users, remote access, post-cancellation access, partner, alumni, SME and multi-site access. We can also manually edit these summary data to take into account our local circumstances.

Workflow 6: Upload our own institutional local licenses.

This is achieved through the ‘Add Documents’ functionality. This functionality is helpful if there is no generic license available from KB+ or if one of our local licenses has substantial differences from a generic one.

Workflow 7: Identifying possible overlapping subscriptions.

Filtering a Title List to the current year’s subscriptions, we can search and drill down for details about individual titles (the ‘Full Issue Entitlements’ screen) and note if the same content is being delivered through several packages and potentially cancel a title (or even package) if the duplication is unnecessary.

Workflow 8: Identifying alternative packages that might include this title.

Filtering a Title List to our current year’s packages, we can search and drill down for details about individual titles and note if the same content is available through several packages and potentially choose a different, possibly cheaper, one.

Workflow 9: The annual renewal process.

Accessed from the ‘Manage – Generate renewals’ spreadsheet option which shows us all possible subscriptions, not just our own, and allows us to compare this year’s with next year’s packages, for example.  We can see which titles have been dropped for 2014 but also any added as well.

Workflow 10: Dashboard and alerts.

The alerts functionality enables cross-institutional knowledge-sharing about known problems and issues and appears on our dashboard. We can comment on any alerts to add further support to the issues that have been shared. There are also alerts for changes to generic licenses.

Workflow 11: Notes.

This functionality allows us to add local Notes to our subscriptions and licenses in case there are particular known issues or points to remember (e.g. renewal dates).

 Copyright free. This content can be edited, redistributed and reused without attribution.


Whats in KB+ Release 2.1

I have been looking forward to release 2.1 of KB+ as it includes improvements to the way we upload data and greater flexibility in terms of editing the information once it is in the system.

Uploading packages (for Datamangers only)

The new upload feature provides greater efficiency in automating some basic data formatting  greater flexibility in terms of adding different types of data including ebooks and greater feedback on any issues found with the data allowing us to troubleshoot more effectively.


There are now more opportunities to edit information which is useful especially for those packages where titles are continually added, for changes to start dates etc. Editable fields now appear as underlined with a dotted line and simply click to edit. Editable fields with no data appear with the label ‘Empty’ simply click on the work ‘Empty’ to edit, you will be prompted to save save/cancel changes by clicking on the tick or cross icon. You can edit “Date fields” by choosing a date from a calendar, or by typing a date directly in YYYY-MM-DD format. Clicking the ‘Month and Year’ twice on the calendar also allows you to change years easily.

KB+ screenshot showing editing

Lists of Subscriptions can be filtered by date.

The current default now displays subscription that are ‘valid’ today. If you want to see Subscriptions valid in the past or future simply type in a date using the format YYYY/MM/DD. This date filter can also be combined with the existing keyword search option. I think this improves the usability of the system in ensuring you can see the most relevant data.

KB+ screenshot of date filter

Search on SUNCAT

You can check other journal details such as change of titles etc from a link to the SUNCAT records for that title.

KB+ Screen shot showing Suncat link

Documentation will be updated to reflect these changes shortly and as always we welcome you feedback on these new changes.

KB+ Impact

  • Improving the reliability of e-library data, thereby improved end user experience and trust
  • Reducing time and cost spent managing data that underpins ERM, especially renewals
  • Adding value and accuracy to vendor knowledge bases that drive library systems and link resolvers (ROI)
  • Improve licensing and negotiation in UK, especially through more reliable historical data and entitlements
  • “Do once and share” principle working at many levels
  • Potential for enhanced communication between librarians and institutions
  • Successful shared service

KB+ What’s next?

1. Renewals functionality being implemented
– Enables comparison between deals and years
e.g. between a publisher’s Complete List and a new package
– Differences shown in reports
– Local changes can be made and then the data uploaded from the edited spreadsheet
2. Historical data and post-cancellation rights
– Collect and normalise historical data relating to journal agreements
– Title lists and licences from e and paper formats
– Normalise data and load into KB+
3. Multi-year representation
– Navigation / filtering of multi-year data in user interface, reports and exports
4. Data Management and Workflows
– Maintain and update all current data for 2013 including updates to Licence and Subscription information
– Support for management, tracking and cascading of generic KB+ changes to your local KB
5. Add in new agreements, especially non-JISC agreements
– E-journal agreements
– Full text databases
– E-book agreements
– Open access
– Consortium relationships
– Functionality to enable consortia to use KB+ efficiently, drawing on the SHEDL exemplar
6. Communication and building the Community
– Improvement of Notes and Alerts to support communication and annotation across the KB+ community
Community Advisory Group will be consulting on how to make KB+ the first port of call for library staff and communication across the community
7. Integration
– Journal Usage Statistics Portal (JUSP) and Electronic Licence Comparison and Analysis Tool (Elcat)
– Other third party services via imports and exports of data, e.g. see JISC HIKE Project at Huddersfield

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.

Random thoughts on future impact of KB +

Knowledge Base+ focuses on the data that underpins e-resource management. Workshops throughout the HE Library community highlighted this as an area that ALL libraries struggle with and that is very time-consuming. That’s one impact.

There is a great deal of confusion and miscommunication between publishers, librarians and subscription agents. But most importantly the people affected by this are the users of our services students and academics. That’s the second impact of KB+ – making the online library more reliable – thereby better supporting the core education and research needs of our institutions.

The benefits of focusing on the data is that the Knowledge Base+ service will ‘add value’ to a whole range of other local databases, ERMs, link resolvers and knowlegebases: that’s the third impact. It has the potential to act as the single point of truth for this core data, enabling it to be reused in a multitude of ways. This means that Knowledge Base + can rightly claim to be vendor neutral.

Vendor neutrality is also very important in terms of getting buy-in from all those involved in the supply chain, especially third party providers who may have their own Knowledge Base. Because Knowledge Base + is built on open standards, other providers can potentially feed data in, and pull data from, this centralised Knowledge Base, cutting down the existing discrepancies between services. So Knowledge Base + does not compete, but instead seeks to enhance, existing related services as well – that’s the fifth impact.

The sixth impact is cultural – the poor state of data management is being exposed by the project with all of us involved in the ERM supply chain being challenged to get our act together and not accept poor quality data. This cultural change should help drive up standards, and enhance the user experience, beyond the confined of this project.

I’m looking forward to seeing how libraries choose to make use of the data provided and we’re expecting exemplars to emerge as we enter the beta phase.

Knowledge Base+ at Day One

We’ve reached the point in the development of KB+ where we are pretty confident about what we’ll deliver on day one 1st September 2012.

I’ve divided it all up into the data that will be there, the services that will be provided and what libraries and suppliers can do.

We’d really welcome comments…

What data will be there?

Functionality in Place

Activity Undertaken by JISC Collections

Opportunity for Users to Add Data

Title, package, platform and coverage for the current NESLi2, SHEDL, WHEEL and JISC eCollections agreements – in excess of 12,000 titles

Wherever possible institutional entitlements to the above (based on JISC Collections data and local institutional data)

Licence information covering key values such as authorised user, remote access, ILL, use in course packs, post-cancellation access

Non-JISC Collections agreements. Currently we have IEEE publication information, we hope that institutions will add more data on agreements during the testing phase


What services will be available?

Functionality in Place

Activity Undertaken by JISC Collections

Opportunity for Users to Add Data

Additions and changes will be made centrally by JISC Collections in the initial phase, based on information sourced from the community

Monthly usage statistics will be automatically visible as they are collected by JUSP

New licence information will be added as agreements are made available in elcat


What can a library team do?

Functionality in Place

Activity Undertaken by JISC Collections

Opportunity for Users to Add Data

Add records of institutional licences and entitlements through data entry and/or upload


Access and compare key licence terms and related notes


Enter and access current alerts, notes and documents, such as the status of negotiations, issues and guidance with licences, service availability. Including display of current alerts.


Share intelligence (issues, queries, knowledge and responses) across the community


Set privacy levels for your data and documents


Produce reports such as A-Z lists, licence information, renewal dates etc


What can suppliers do?

Functionality in Place

Activity Undertaken by JISC Collections

Opportunity for Users to Add Data

Provide feeds of new records and updates by arrangement with JISC Collections  

Receive feeds of accurate contextualised deal information on publications and associated licences for the agreements covered by KB+ for use in their own knowledge bases  


Understanding historical entitlements to journals (or not)

Along side the work that we’ve been doing for KB+ to make sure that we have accurate data on the titles included in 2012 NESLi2 agreements, JISC Collections has been working with EDINA on a scoping study for an Entitlement Registry and PECAN2. These projects are almost at an end with final reports due in mid-April – and we are currently running workshops with institutions to review what has been done and what institutional priorities might be.

This work is very closely aligned with KB+, providing a historical record of title coverage, institutional subscriptions and post-cancellation access rights for NESLi2 agreements.

Unfortunately, as so often seems to be the case, this is easier said than done.

As one librarian said, at any one time there seem to be atleast 3 different records of what titles an institution subscribes to: the institution, the publisher and the subscription agent. Trying to reach agreement on this is enormously time consuming, but it also appears to be work that has to be repeated year in, year out at enormous cost and effort on all sides.

Now, some may say that this isn’t important and no one is claiming that there are huge issues with access to subscribed content, but I think there are some important reasons why as a community we should have a solid understanding of what we do and don’t have rights to:

  1. Institutional knowledge – at the moment many institutions have to ask third parties for information on what that institution has and hasn’t subscribed to, yet they seldom have huge faith in the answers that they receive from those external partners.
  2. Best practice – at a very simple level it makes sense to understand what has been purchased and what rights one has to that content. From a licensing perspective, it should be up to institutions, publishers and those who act on their behalf such as JISC Collections, to make sure that the licences are clear on this.
  3. Understanding an offer – being able to understand the impact of an offer and any decisions you may wish to make about cancellations, renewals, substitutions etc requires a knowledge of what the impact on access will be.
  4. Transition to electronic and relegation of print – uncertainty about post-cancellation access rights is a barrier to institutions when considering getting rid of their print collections or fully moving to electronic.
  5. Decision making – time repeatedly spent working out what has been purchased and what rights apply to it, is time that isn’t spent on more important decisions about collection development, improving the user experience or considering the nature of the library service that will be delivered.
  6. Improved services – being able to make accurate records of this information available could provide an opportunity for subscription agents, systems vendors, publishers and negotiating bodies to improve the services that they can provide to institutions.

However, we are where we are and the amount of work involved in putting this right is considerable, but based on the work undertaken so far and the valuable feedback from institutions we are starting to understand some priorities and some practical ways of achieving these that could be beneficial to all.

Gathering, verifying and standardising content for the KB+

As you know, the quite simple question: which titles are in the NESLi2 deals? Is not that easy to answer.

As part of the key deliverables of the KB+ project we have requested that the publishers provide their title lists in the KBART format. KBART format is a clear and simple standard that suits the KB+ initial purposes. Not all the publishers are KBART compliant. However, in general the publishers’ response has been fabulous. They have collaborated with us, untangling the discrepancies between their title lists and the NESLI2 agreements.

As you may know, verifying and standardising title list is a demanding and time consuming task. It takes us time to deal with the essence of the serial publications. The serials publications are not static, they are alive and they live their life:  they move house (transfers between publishers) , they get married (mergers), they have children (supplements), they change their names, they have nicknames, they go on holiday (stop for a while and come back again),  they die (ceased).

Furthermore, we have encountered other cases of a higher complexity: for example the case of Camden 5th (CUP) has several series, starting at different times, all with Volume 1 Issue 1.

Of course, we are not trying to solve all the challenges related to the serials publications. Nevertheless, our key aims are to be able to give a straight and clear answer to the question above and to have the extra, necessary metadata for our technical team. This has forced us to move forward and decide  how the metadata needs to be presented.  We have, for example, identified in separate files, the open access and free titles and the additional titles (those that are not part of the Nesli2 deals but to which the libraries can subscribe independently at a reduce fee).

Knowledge Base+ in a nutshell

Phase I of the Knowledge Base+ project aims to develop a centralised, shared, above-campus knowledge base of data useful to electronic resources management (ERM) at institutional level.

It aims to provide institutions, and the services they use, with timely, accurate, verified and structured ERM information, including e-resources publication, licensing, subscription and entitlements data.

In partnership with other existing services and initiatives, e.g. Journal Usage Statistics Portal and the License Comparison Tool, the knowledge base also aims to extend and enhance existing data and services rather than creating yet another silo.

The knowledge base is NOT an ERM product and therefore it is not trying to compete with ERM or LMS products in terms of functionality or tools – the focus is on quality metadata, and improving the availability of high quality metadata relevant to UK academic institutions to existing ERM and LMS products.

As far as possible, the knowledge base will be based on open principles using open standards (e.g. COUNTER and ONIX) in machine readable structured formats (e.g. KBART) that enable the data to be imported into existing systems, and shared between related systems, for multiple purposes and reuse. The knowledge base will be accessible to all participants through its own authenticated user interface.

The existence of the knowledge base will start to meet the aim of minimising the costly duplication of staff time and effort in the population, maintenance and correction of existing knowledge bases, include link resolvers, supplier knowledge bases, institutional ERMs, etc.

The project also aims to provide alerting services concerning renewals, title changes, known issues, service availability, etc.

Scope: A full set of key deliverables for Phase I is outlined on the official Knowledge Base+ website. Phase I is more about identifying, piloting and implementing the overarching framework and infrastructure based around a core set of NESLi2, SHEDL, WHEEL and JISC eCollections agreements, rather than providing a fully comprehensive service from day one.

Planning for Phase II will commence in spring of 2012.

What will KB+ contain?

In phase I the knowledge base will contain a representative sample of data about publication, licensing, subscription and entitlements for many existing e-resource deals e.g. nesli2, SHEDL and WHEEL title lists, holdings, machine readable licences, etc.

In selecting the data for phase I of the project we have tried hard to choose data that is of relevance to as many institutions as possible, but recognise that this is a far from comprehensive set of data and that we will want to include full-text databases, ebooks etc in phase II and beyond.

What the data in phase I will allow us to do is test the functionality – import, export, correction, deletion etc – that KB+ seeks to offer, but with data that of importance to as many institutions as possible.

A full list of deliverables in phase I is available.

What’s the benefit of KB+ for Library administrative staff?

  • The potential to reduce the burden of tedious and time-consuming process around managing e-resources.
  • Freed up time to spend on more worthwhile, ‘value added’ services.
  • Increased productivity through shared activity
  • Opportunities to upskill and develop
  • Opportunity to network with other institutions
  • Opportunity to make a difference at a national as well as local level.

See also What’s in it for libraries?

What’s the benefit of KB+ for Library Directors?

  • A reduction in the costly duplication of staff time and effort in the population, maintenance and correction of knowledge bases
  • A contribution to enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of local e-resource management
  • Fewer broken links and incorrect holdings, helping to ensure better value from existing subscribed e-resources.
  • Improved user experience from better access to subscribed e-resources
  • Improved return on investment (ROI) from existing knowledge bases and e-resource management systems (e.g. link resolvers, etc.) which should be enhanced by taking feeds from the centralised knowledge base.
  • The potential to reassign staff activity away from repetitive back-of-house administration.
  • It is recognised that phase 1 of the project is unlikely to deliver major savings before August 2012 – the benefits are likely to become more tangible in the medium to long term and will be articulated in the business case for phase 2 and beyond.

See also What’s in it for libraries?

What’s the benefit of KB+ for publishers, platform hosts, agents, suppliers and system vendors?

  • One authoritative source of key data about e-resources including publication, licensing and subscription information.
  • Timely access to data contextualised for the UK academic library market
  • Centralised service for the population, amendment and verification activity of data for knowledge bases, include link resolvers, supplier knowledgebases, institutional ERMs, etc.
  • Reduction in queries from multiple institutions or consortia.
  • Access to the knowledge base data to update their own databases and improve services to customeRs.
  • Reduction in the costs associated with collating, managing and amending data for knowledge bases in use by UK academic libraries
  • Access to key licence data in a structure machine to machine format