This case study makes use of the following, which are described in more detail in the linked resources:
David Kay and Owen Stephens from the LMS Change project visited the University of Wolverhampton on 6 November 2012 to work with
- John Dowd – Assistant Director (Planning & Business Development)
- Trish Fouracres – Assistant Director (Client Services)
- Phil King – Digital Library Officer
- Frances Machell – Content Development Manager
- Phil Stolarczuk – Learning and Skills Librarian
- Mark Williams – Liaison Librarian
1. The Problem
a) The Setting
The library has a mission critical requirement to maximise the use of its content in delivering the University’s strategic objectives.
This can be measured and progressed by
- Identifying the University’s business needs and
- Reviewing the terms of licences against them
- Tracking the associated fulfilment levels
This is not just a case of value for money, which might be measured by raw usage statistics; it is also crucial that the range of client groups, including particular demographics, are able to maximise access to purchased and subscribed content.
Our particular concern in this session was the part played by licensing (typically as an inhibitor, except in the case of open content such as OERs and OA journal publications). In addition, but not our focus here, the library is concerned with how acquisition workflows (including such as ILL/DD) might increase responsiveness and ability to provide ‘access on demand / at the point of need’.
b) The Challenge
Whilst student experience is in general and in principle top of the list, the group decided to unpick this challenge by going back to basics and listing the broad categories of users / clients where license terms might come in to play as enabler or disabler:
- UW enrolled students – there is always a range of special cases and outliers in this core group, such as NHS nurses, individuals between courses and internationally based students;
- Franchise partner students – this category, with UK and overseas dimensions, is not a major concern at present but may be critical in relation to future developments;
- Enterprise partners – this can cover an open-ended range of development settings in business and the community (i.e. BCE), involving individuals not necessarily registered in SITS, and to which the university needs to respond opportunistically and flexibly; these range from incubation to corporate CPD.
- Researchers – a small but significant pressure point relates to research involving partners and individuals outside the institution
In the morning’s discussion we examined this problem space from a number of operational angles:
- Quick access required bt library staff to the available UW resources, both print and electronic, linked to licensing terms where applicable
- Clarity of licensing terms and availability of interpretation guidance, clearly placed in the context of local requirements
- Knowing enough about identity at the point of enquiry – not only who clients are but also critical aspects of their circumstances (e.g. Current UK-based student?)
- Mapping that client intelligence on to access / delivery options through an access categories checklist linked to the resources and terms above
- Recording enquiry outcomes in a manner that enables reuse to create FAQs, to assist in future enquiries and to define licensing pain points; this is likely to involve recording the verdict / advice given and also generating statistics / analytics about the nature of enquiries
This discussion identified a number of existing and possible systems potentially involved in this workflow (as illustrated in the Function Palette below):
- CRM / Service desk – central or library specific enquiry handling
- User authentication and directory services – to feed key data (e.g. Course of study) in to an enquiry
- Categories checklist – questions to ask users to map them on to the available options, which could be built in to a CRM
- VLE / Reading List system – to see the options for taught students
- Discovery service / catalogue – to see available purchased and subscribed resources
- Standard licence terms – could use KB+ for traffic lights with Elcat for detail
- UW signed local licence terms – could be KB+ for traffic lights and licence retrieval (if needed)
- Outcomes recording – could be within CRM; but the format must be open to useful analysis to generate FAQs and to identify future licensing requirements (e.g. a shared spreadsheet or Google Form could be used)
It was recognised that the systems listed above only partially exist (and where they do exist, they do not necessarily serve this use case well). However our discussions did identify viable ways to achieve the desired ends, using available services (e.g. KB+, Google Forms) without requiring heavy integration, given library commitment to organise and categorise UW licence information.
3. Methods Used
a) Function Palette
We started by identifying the user groupings who expect to benefit from licensed resources, a recorded above. We then used the function palette as follows:
- We placed the licensing challenge in the middle (What sort of user are they and what do they need to do with the licensed resources? e.g. A lecturer wants to load an article in to the VLE; a researcher at an overseas UW campus wants to access a particular journal)
- We arranged the related applications around this focal point, trying to understand those directly linked and those further removed
Above is an early iteration of our palette, which enabled us to agree on a list of IT enabled functions (not necessarily current systems functionality) that would enable a resolution of the central challenge. We carried this forward in to the Dependencies Matrix.
b) Dependencies Matrix
This matrix maps dependencies between 6 functions, some of which may be represented by independent systems. In the case of taught student enquiries, the VLE or a Reading List system could be added to this list, mapping resources to student learning.
This matrix can be read as follows: “The function ‘Enquiries Handling’ is heavily dependent (Score 3) on access to Access Categories, Licence Interpretations and the Resource Catalogue.”
The strongest message arising from this analysis is that the focal / central process of Enquiries Handling is heavily dependent on two major information sources (Licence Interpretations and the Resource Catalogue) and an Access Categories framework for mapping the enquiry on to that information. The importance of well-defined Access Categories is also emphasised as a dependency for effective Outcomes Recording.
4. Observation on Methods
The overall exercise had significant value for the management team in clarifying and shaping thinking about the problem space, which had been stated as a high-level business requirement and therefore needed translating into some real outcomes and the processes to enable those outcomes.
It is suggested that these could be complemented with other methods in the LMS Change pack. Notably, given more time we could usefully have reverse-engineered this thinking back in to the business case by placing the necessary components (as above) into a Business Ownership Map and / or a Business Benefits Ranking.