Monthly Webinar – Licences

We ran the second in our monthly webinar series focusing on different areas of KB+ and this weeks topic was licences.

Click here to watch the 50 mins webinar on licenses on KB+ where I talk about how you can store your licenses, view key properties, export useful information and use our comparison tools to help you identify what is permissible across different licences.

Following feedback from the community we have worked on improving existing licences functionality as well as introducing new features and this webinar attempts to cover the range of tools now available in KB+.

In this webinar I show:

  • How to add licences to your KB+ account, by copying from the knowledge base or adding a blank licence
  • How you can edit the key properties table within a licence to add your own properties
  • How to link to a subscription from the licence
  • How to search across the licences including filtering by properties and export this information
  • How to use the Licence Comparison Tool – comparing ONIX-PL licences
  • How to ‘Compare Licences (KB+ Licence Properties)

Our next webinar will be on the 23rd March at 11.00 and is about Subscriptions, please email for full details on joining.



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.


KB+ Release 3.3

With this new release we are able to provide some major developments and improvements to help embed KB+ in institutions workflows. The system now provides greater flexibility in terms of communication, tracking changes, adding subscriptions, exporting data etc.

Some of the key new developments include:

Communication and Collaboration.

Collaboration has always been invaluable in the creation and development of KB+ and in the new release changes have been made to the dashboard in order that we can provide

  • key information requiring action clearly
  • the ability to track information to suit your workflow
  • forums for further discussion regarding the content in KB+

This screencast introduces the KB+ Dashboard

From the dashboard the ‘To Do’ column has information relating to your subscriptions. This column provides links to packages where you will then be prompted to accept or decline changes. For example this could include new title additions to a package, title edits etc.

There is a column for announcements which could be either from the data managers regarding addition of new content or from the system itself about any amendments made to packages.

The third column shows the latest discussions related to a package, these discussions take place on a third party system called Zendesk. Zendesk offers the ability to track discussions per package either by RSS or email alerts as well as allow you to contribute your comments. As information about new packages and amendments to packages is also automatically posted to special discussion threads you can subscribed to these announcements via email or RSS as well.

I am really excited about this development as I think it will be of great benefit to the KB+ community and help meet our aspiration of a central source of institutional data shared across all stakeholders.

Further details and support regarding the dashboard and Zendesk is available at


Another successful collaboration has been with JUSP, in the new release we will be able to provide, where available, the JR1 and JR1A usage statistics for titles within KB+ (please note this functionality will be available w/c 29th September). We anticipate that this is just the start of the integration between the systems.

As the inclusion of usage statistics within KB+ is intended to support renewals and related workflows, the JR1/JR1A statistics are included in the Renewals spreadsheets generated by KB+.

Manage Menu

The manage menu should now include all the core areas relating to the system, a new addition include the ability to generate spreadsheets which can be exported from the system, edited and then re-imported using the “Generate Subscription Taken Worksheet” and ‘Import Subscription Taken Worksheet’ functions. These work in a similar way to the existing ‘Renewals’ functionality, but do not require you to have an existing subscription to start from.

User Profile Page

Changes to this page include the ability for an editor at an institution to manage all its users and assign the appropriate status for those using the system. This increased flexibility will hopefully allow you manage the system more effectively for your workflows. Further information about the Profile Page is available at

You can now also select ‘Data Transformations’ which allows you to choose which format you want to use to export data from KB+. The formats we are supporting with the launch of v3.3 are formats for two of the major link resolvers/KnowledgeBases – Serials Solutions 360 and SFX. These are available for immediate use, we are working with Serials Solutions and  Ex Libris to identify suitable partner sites to test them fully and to define and refine workflows between KB+ and vendor knowledgebases. Any feedback on these is welcome, and we will be adding further export formats in the near future. If there are any particular formats you would like to see, please let us know.


We are now able to load ONIX licences into KB+ ,which will commence shortly, once the licenses are loaded you will be able to view and compare usage terms helping you to evaluate the collections.

Support documentation including information on these new features is available at

KB+ Collaboration

I am pleased to report that both Ex Libris and Serials Solutions are now using data from KB+.

  • Ex Libris provide a clear statement on their SFX targets to indicate they have got their data from KB+
  • Serials Solutions provide a list of those databases where they use KB+ data via their Support Centre

A key principle of KB+ is to do the work once and share, so I was really pleased to see that both Ex Libris and Serials Solution are using KB+ data. Having a single data source will help save time and resource across institutions.

I read an interesting article(1) today by Ed Chamberlain in Insights, covering union catalogues, open data and data aggregation. In the article he noted that KB+ was “aiming to create a national-level store of licence and holdings data that is owned and managed by a community. System vendors can also take and contribute data from and to the store. This allows libraries as customers to migrate from one electronic resource management system (ERM) to another with confidence that data will be uniform in quality across the marketplace.”  Its encouraging to see steps towards reaching this aim.

(1)Chamberlain, E. (2013) “Where do we go with Union Catalogues?” Insights. 26 (2) pp.180-184

Approaches to Licensing in elcat and KB+

Over the last few weeks I’ve spoken at a number of events bringing people up to date about KB+ and the data and services that will be available from launch. In the course of those events it’s become clear that the provision of licensing information for library systems is attractive to both academic libraries and the systems vendors who support them.

There are a number of reasons for this:

Systems vendors have found it challenging to get hold of the content provider licences, and then map them in a way that can be displayed usefully to institutions in their systems.

This has meant that Libraries have largely been left to do the job of populating the licensing modules in their systems by themselves, which doesn’t work because they often lack confidence in their ability to interpret the licences or the time it would take to do this work across all the licences they are responsible for.

Closely related to both of the above is that the licences being negotiated, sometimes end up being somewhat hazy on some of the key questions that librarians ask of them. Now whilst haziness is often an advantage from a legal point of view (it’s difficult to be accused of breaching a licence when it’s far from clear what a clause actually means or if a particular use case was even covered by the licence), it’s a pain in the neck if you are just trying to give someone a straight answer to an apparently simple question. It also makes the job of representing a licence in a library (or any other) system very difficult indeed.

What are the consequences of all this?

Well, if the work to map a licence and enter it into an ERM is being repeated by each institution on the same licences, that is a huge amount of time across the sector being spent by senior staff, who could in all probability be better employed doing something else.

On the other hand, if the work isn’t being done at all, then a lot of expensive functionality is going to waste and libraries aren’t in a position to efficiently make their users aware of licence information.

Finally, there is a knock on impact on decision making within the institution – what services can I offer to users? What resources do I want to subscribe to? What print can I dispose of? – all of these decision either rely on or can be informed by access to licence information.

Different JISC Collections Approaches

JISC Collections is currently trying to help address these issues through the Electronic Licence Comparison and Analysis Tool (elcat) and Knowledge Base+, both of which approach the issue in slightly different ways.


Over the last 2 years JISC Collections has been mapping a large number of its licences into ONIX-PL – a NISO standard for the expression of licence agreements in a machine readable way, developed by EDItEUR specifically for use by publishers, ERM and other library system vendors.

ONIX-PL allows us to capture the whole of the licence and even if the licences themselves aren’t consistent, the mapping process is, which allows us to view a consistent expression of all our licences and to compare different licences with each other efficiently.

There are now 135 licences in elcat covering JISC Collections model licences, e-journal, e-books, databases and archive agreements going back as far as 2008 in some cases. It’s has been used by over 100 institutions since it was launched in March.

We hope that elcat will simplify the process by which institutions get to the information in a licence that they need to answer a query or inform a decision, for example, are walk-in users allowed under the terms of this licence, or perhaps more usefully, which of my licences DON’T provide for walk-in users.

Comparison of two licences in elcat. Accessed 21st June 2012

However, there are some challenges facing elcat:

  1. Creating the licence expressions is time consuming, and it isn’t clear that there is high demand.
  2. Currently elcat, only includes JISC Collections licence agreements. Whilst this isn’t a bad thing, the fact is that they are all pretty similar and the real value would start to come from being able to compare completely different licences with each other. Unfortunately, at present, very few people, other than KUALI in the US, are mapping licences in ONIX-PL. This raises the question of whether it’s a viable activity in the longer term – even if we believe that it is of value. Fortunately I’m happy to say that at least one major ERM vendor is currently mapping all of our ONIX-PL licence expressions to their licensing module.
  3. ONIX-PL can only represent what is in the licence – if there is an absence of information or clarity it can’t provide a response. Despite all of our efforts even JISC Collections licences aren’t always as clear as we would perhaps like on some key questions – post-cancellation access entitlements being one that comes to mind. However, the discipline of creating ONIX-PL versions has highlighted this and colleagues are working to try and ensure that in future licences will be much clearer.

Currently elcat is in something of a beta phase where we’ll be adding licences to it and working with our members to see if there is demand, and how we might improve it in the future.

Knowledge Base+

We also intend to include licence information in KB+, but we’re taking a slightly different approach to that taken by elcat:

  1. Rather than map the whole licence (and all of the detail), we are only seeking to capture ‘Yes’, ‘No’. ‘Conditional’ information for a small range of key definitions and clauses that are important to institutions:
    • Concurrent Users
    • Remote access
    • Walk-in Access
    • Multi-Site Access
    • Partner Organisation access
    • Alumni Access
    • Inter-Library Loan
    • Course packs
    • VLEs
    • Use by SMEs
    • Post Cancellation Access
    • Notice Period
  2. Wherever possible, we will be trying to derive this information from the ONIX-PL expressions that we’ve created already so that KB+ can be at least partially pre-populated as soon as a new licence expression enters elcat.
  3. These values can be supplemented with additional notes and commentary – currently JISC Collections is adding the information, but once the system is live, individual institutions will be able to add information that can either be private or shared across all institutions. The advantage of these notes is that it allows us to provide information on, for example, post-cancellation access, that is contained within an offer document rather the licence, but which adds to the comprehension of the licence.
  4. Finally, we’ll be linking to the full licence expression in elcat, so that institutions can see the whole thing and allowing institutions to upload their own versions (scanned PDFs for example) into the system.

An example of the licence information included in KB+ as shown in the underlying database

We hope that this approach will answer key questions for institutions and point them to where they can find further information, saving time and improving access to information and knowledge for all users.

Currently we’re testing KB+ with academic institutions to make sure that we are adding clarity and not just another layer of confusion!

Help wanted

The ethos behind KB+ is ‘do once and share’. We’re very happy to share the work that we’ve done with institutions, publishers and systems vendors so that the supply chain as a whole can benefit, but we would really like to see more people get involved in the creation of these licence expressions across a wide range of resources and make them openly available.

JISC Collections doesn’t cover all resources and this means that whilst we can have a good attempt at creating the licence expression or details of key values, it’s potentially more challenging to start adding interpretative notes.

Of course, if we do KB+ right that might not matter since we’ll have access to the combined knowledge of all those librarians who have been working with those licences over the years and what they’ve learnt.