The latest from the JISC Historic Books Advisory Board
The second meeting of the JISC Historic Books (JHB) Advisory Board took place at the British Library, chaired by Gabriel Egan. It was the first time members had met face to face and a chance to catch up for those that knew each other. Do take a look at the presentation and notes from the meeting as well the current membership.
The first thing the members did was agree their terms of reference. Plenty of discussion took place at this point – are they just looking at books or historical materials, what do they want to achieve from the platform, what will bring the best benefit to the education and research community and how can they work to do this. I am particularly pleased with this board’s terms of reference, they really thought about their role in detail and take it very seriously. You can see the final version of the terms of reference in their advisory board section.
I gave a couple of presentations to members around the history of JISC eCollections and its budget. In the first meeting, which was a virtual one, Gabriel quite rightly pointed out that if the advisory board is to be in charge of the platform and its development, then they should also be in charge of the budget. So I gave it to them straight, explaining how the costs of the service as a whole are currently funded by JISC and how over the next 5 years, we are looking to remove the reliance of the service on JISC funding to a self-sustaining model.
The meat of the meeting focused on three key areas: deciding what developments should be done next, metadata and improving the OCR. Scott Gibbens, our Service Representative took members through the list of requirements that we have collected from the community and from the board themselves – these ranged from small interface changes to major developments such as changing how the viewer functionality works. The task of the board was to discuss each requirement and then to prioritise them with consideration of the development funding available. What was fantastic was that at each point members stopped to consider their students and fellow researchers and what would support their needs before making a decision. This process has resulted in the release of an updated development roadmap which is available on the JISC Historic Books pages.
We talked a lot about metadata at the meeting and presented the results of a study we commissioned into how academics and students make use of metadata in their daily interactions with historical book content. The report, undertaken by Owen Stephens, makes a number of recommendations and we wanted to get the views from members on these (see the presentation). We are now working to take these forward and focusing on how we can provide the institutions that have joined the service with MARC records for all the titles at the lowest cost and in a way that build up new relationships that will benefit libraries.
Over the summer Scott Gibbens and Gabriel Egan attended an OCR summit. Why? Because there are quality and accuracy issues over the OCR that is available to support the images that effect scholarship. Gabriel gave a rather amusing (and quite rude) presentation demonstrating these issues and then explained what the OCR summit, organised by Laura Mandell was all about. Members were really keen on joining up with Laura’s project Typewright and requested that JISC Collections work to explore how international join up and crowd-sourcing could help to improve the OCR in the collections.
The main actions from the meeting are on JISC Collections and Mimas to undertake the developments prioritised and to work on the metadata and OCR project. The next meeting will be in summer and we always welcome new members.