Posts Tagged ‘benefits’

What did it cost and who benefits?

Posted on July 27th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

This is going to be one of the hardest project blog posts to write…

The costs of getting Jerome to this stage are relatively easy to work out. Under the Infrastructure for Resource Discovery programme, JISC awarded us the sum of £36,585 which (institutional overheads aside) we used to pay for the following:

  • Developer staff time: 825 hours over six months.
  • Library and project staff time: 250 hours over six months.
  • The cost of travel to a number of programme events and relevant conferences at which we presented Jerome, including this one, this one, this one, this one and this one.

As all the other aspects of Jerome—hardware, software etc.—either already existed or were free to use, that figure represents the total cost of getting Jerome to its current state.

The benefits (see also section 2.4 of the original bid) of Jerome are less easily quantified financially, but we ought to consider these operational benefits:

1. The potential for using Jerome as a ‘production’ resource discovery system by the University of Lincoln. As such it could replace our current OPAC web catalogue as the Library’s primary public tool of discovery. The Library ought also to consider Jerome as a viable alternative to the purchase of a commercial, hosted next-generation resource discovery service (which it is currently reviewing), with the potential for replacing the investment it would make in such a system with investment in developer time to maintain and extend Jerome. In addition, the Common Web Design (on which the Jerome search portal is based) is inherently mobile-friendly.

2. Related: even if the Jerome search portal is not adopted in toto, there’s real potential for using Jerome’s APIs and code (open sourced) to enhance our existing user interfaces (catalogues, student portals, etc.) by ‘hacking in’ additional useful data and services via Jerome (similar to the Talis Juice service). This could lead to cost savings: a modern OPAC would not have to be developed in isolation or tools bought in. And these enhancements are as available to other institutions and libraries as much as to Lincoln.

3. The use of Jerome as an operational tool for checking and sanitising bibliographic data. Jerome can already be used to generate lists of ‘bad’ data (e.g. invalid ISBNs in MARC records); this intelligence could be fed back into the Library to make the work of cataloguers, e-resources admin staff, etc., easier and faster (efficiency savings) and again to improve the user experience.

4. Benefits of Open Data: in releasing our bibliographic collections openly Jerome is adding to the UK’s academic resource discovery ‘ecosystem‘, with benefits to scholarly activity both in Lincoln and elsewhere. We are already working with the COMET team at Cambridge University Library on a cross-Fens spin-off miniproject(!) to share data, code, and best practices around handling Open Data. Related to this are the ‘fuzzier’ benefits of associating the University of Lincoln’s name with innovation in technology for education (which is a stated aim in the University’s draft institutional strategy).

5. Finally, there is the potential for the university to use Jerome as a platform for future development: Jerome already sits in a ‘suite’ of interconnecting innovative institutional web services (excuse the unintentional alliteration!) which include the Common Web Design presentation framework, Total ReCal space/time data, lncn.eu URL shortener and link proxy, a university-wide open data platform, and the Nucleus data storage layer. Just as each of these (notionally separate) services has facilitated the development of all the others, so it’s likely that Jerome will itself act as a catalyst for further innovation.

Wider Benefits to Sector & Achievements for Host Institution

Posted on March 25th, 2011 by Paul Stainthorp

This post outlines the benefits of Jerome to the HE sector (as well as  within the University of Lincoln itself).

Benefits to the HE sector

The project documentation, case studies, supported API and sustained release of open bibliographic metadata will all contribute to the vision of this programme area, being “flexible, efficient and effective ways to support resource discovery and access to resources for research and learning.”

Specific benefits:

  1. Libraries will have access to a number of open, re-usable bibliographic datasets not otherwise available (MARC records) or not otherwise available in this aggregated, queryable format (MARC records, Repository data, e-journal contents)
  2. The Jerome demonstration portal and public APIs, and documentation/case studies, will provide an open model for building innovative next-generation resource discovery tools using freely-available, Open-Source tools (MongoDB, Sphinx) – one that has not otherwise been explored in HE.
  3. The APIs (and the data available via them) will be available for re-use as a “developers’ toolkit” at library data mashup events, and more generally by developers; a valuable way of exploring potential future uses for library data.
  4. We expect the ‘radical personalisation’ offered by Jerome to be of value for libraries and HE institutions exploring the notion of offering personalised, “boutique” library services1 to students and researchers.

Benefits to the University of Lincoln

Students and academic staff

We have situated this project within the wider context of the Learning Landscape at Lincoln, and within the Library’s strategic aims to develop user-centred learning services and spaces (physical & virtual). Furthermore, by strategically employing recent ex-students (Alex and Nick), we are able to bring a student-centric perspective to the project, which aims to meet student expectations of our online services and improve the overall student experience. We are aware of JISC’s research and recommendations in this area, in particular around the impact of Web 2.0.2 When implemented, students and staff can expect to enjoy an integrated, personalised online library service with an improved design and which benefits from integration with third-party services and data.3

Technical staff

We regard Jerome, like TotalReCal and other JISC-funded projects as an opportunity to formalise our ‘labs’ work and introduce changes into the culture of our ICT systems. Clearly there is prestige in being awarded external funding for a project and it enables us to have a greater (or quicker) impact than might otherwise have been possible if Jerome remained as an ‘un-project’. Such work is an opportunity for us to learn, develop, test and implement our ideas as well as transfer that knowledge to other colleagues.

The University of Lincoln as a whole

The outcomes of the Jerome project will underwrite a Business Case for continued experimentation with and improvement of our Library Services, in effect being a welcome driver of institutional change supported by the the University Librarian. As mentioned above, this project will help the university meet student expectations and improve the student experience through the aggregation of data into a personalised online environment that connects with and feeds into third-party services.

Stakeholder Interest / Stake Importance
Students/staff Improvements to virtual research, teaching and learning space. More efficient and effective library services. Improved student experience and more integrated research environment. High
University of Lincoln Improved systems integration; improved ‘Learning Landscape’, improved (re)use of data, improved student experience, driver of change. High
Other HEIs Case studies, open data, documentation, sharing best practice. Medium
Other developers Open data, supported and attractive APIs, documentation and case studies. High
JISC Value for money, programme and project outcomes are realised. High

  1. http://bit.ly/hJTBFR []
  2. e.g. Great Expectations, Student experiences of technology and e-learning,
    Edgeless UniversityManaging student’s expectations of university. []
  3. For example: Google Books, Amazon, LibraryThing, reference management software. Similarly, we hope that students and staff will benefit from integration of University of Lincoln data with third-party services. []