How can university professional services staff help to develop ‘Smart Cities’?

The DMU Local site recently asked: “What does a ‘Smart City’ mean to you?” The deadline for the prize for best answer has passed, but the question remains. The university and the City Council are working to put together a strategy for making Leicester a Smart City, hoping that better use of technology would improve things for businesses and communities and make a difference in sectors like healthcare and transport.

Universities are also challenged in the post-Brexit political environment to re-assert their relevance to the communities whose taxes pay for their continued existence. Finding ways of taking the university’s expertise out of its ‘Ivory Towers’ and into those communities is likely to prove important.

My own answer to the question about what Smart Cities mean would have focussed on Open Data. I would have assumed that planners have long used data to make decisions. The flow of traffic is governed by factors like distance between traffic lights, average speed of vehicles and the timing of stop signs. A smart city would open its processes in two ways:

  1. Make the data available for anyone curious to use.
  2. Be open to learning from citizen explorations into this data

People might start with a frustration: “Why can’t I get out of my industrial estate in the evening rush hour?” and use the data and modelling systems to explore the effect of more frequent or longer gaps between the traffic light changes.

And this is not just for traffic issues. A Smart City would also be involving people in learning and improving healthcare, public safety, education and training and other areas.

What do we need? Open Data and Equipped People

Key to this vision would be curating a collection of data sets relevant to how a city operates and developing the skills within the population be able to work with the data and learn from it.

How can professional services help?

Hosting hackathons

The university could host events where citizens from outside the university with an interest in a sector, like healthcare could meet up with staff from inside the university to explore the data and learn from each other about the skills required to analyse and make recommendations.

Curate collections

Making the data ‘Open’ involves more than just sticking files up ‘on the cloud’. The ingest processes and development of associated metadata are areas where information professionals, like librarians, already have experience to contribute. Data about any one city cannot be understood in isolation from other nodes. Sourcing data from outside to eanble comparisons between Leicester and Oslo, for example, requires knowledge of the Open Data landscape.

Share skills

Professional services staff across the range of directorates are involved in analysing data and could share those skills with each other and the city. There is a movement of ‘Data Carpentry’ events which would provide a format for such learning encounters.

Data collection

The university could install air pollution monitors along the line of the Oxford Road buildings and the river to compare air quality in different environments around the campus.

App development

Apps could be designed built on Open Data and shared with the community to enable citizens to benefit from professional services expertise. For example a local congestin app could help people decide on the best routes home

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

LOCKSS as a source for journal articles

In a post I wrote yesterday ‘LOCKSS and Library Search‘ I looked at how users encountered material held in the university’s LOCKSS Archive if they were starting from the E-Resources Portal. This portal lists all the e-Journals and e-Books available through the DMU Library. My guess is that it would be mostly (but not wholly) librarians who would take that route. They would be interested to know which journals their students had access to and which were actively being looked after in LOCKSS.

Students themselves would encounter material when searching for individual articles. Fortunately for them, the process is much simpler. Take, for example, this search for a known article: ‘Wishing on a Star: Promoting and Personifying Designer Collections and Fashion Brands’.

Screenshot from 2015-02-18 14:25:49Clicking on the title link for the top search result takes the user to the publisher’s version of the article. But there is also a Sidebar Helper Frame which offers alternative sources for the article if there are any available.

Screenshot from 2015-02-18 14:26:45In the ‘Try a Different Source’ dropdown list LOCKSS appears as an option. In this case the user is taken to an HTML version of the required article.

Screenshot from 2015-02-18 14:48:54That would be useful if all other sources of this article had been lost. With a little more tweaking it may be possible to get Summon to link instead to the menu page for the article offering both PDF and HTML formats.




Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on LOCKSS as a source for journal articles

LOCKSS and Library Search

During February 2015 I have been working on making the collected and preserved material in De Montfort University’s LOCKSS Archive visible to Library Search users. Over 400 titles have now been activated on Intota (our Electronic Resources Management system). These are journals that the library cares about and has taken steps to ensure that their content is continuously available to over the long-term.

Library users are starting to notice material stored in LOCKSS when looking through our journal holdings or for individual articles. For example our E-Resources Portal shows LOCKSS as among the possible sources for ‘Accounting, auditing & accountability journal‘.

Accounting, auditing & accountability journalWhilst the Emerald Management link goes to the version available from the publisher, the LOCKSS link instead accesses content via a proxy server that runs inside the university. Should the content for any reason ‘go missing’ from the publisher we could rely on being able to use the LOCKSS version instead.

This may not be as pretty or straight-forward as you might expect, but it does work. First the user has to negotiate some of the LOCKSS mechanism. There is a menu page listing the stored content by volume.

This is followed by a better looking menu page with the issues available for the selected volume:

LOCKSS-Menu1Things are looking more familiar with the Issue contents page:

LOCKSS Manifest pageFrom this page a PDF or HTML version of the required article can be selected.

That, at least, is the route for people starting with the title of a journal. If you had a citation with an OpenURL link instead, the route to the content would be more direct.

Making the digitally preserved LOCKSS journals so visible helps to show just what efforts the Library has been making to guarantee continuing access to electronic resources. Research published at the end of last year (Klein M, 2014) indicates that a high percentage of published and peer-reviewed articles suffer from broken links in their references to other journals. Klein mentions LOCKSS as a possible measure protecting against link rot. Making the LOCKSS holdings visible for members of De Montfort University shows just how far, or how limited, this protection extends.

LOCKSS does have a further role in the background helping to maintain access to electronic content. It is also working as part of the infrastructure behind Library Search, along with EZproxy, enabling access to content. In the example of the accounting journal above, LOCKSS comes into play whether the user selects LOCKSS or Emerald as the source.

Klein M, Van de Sompel H, Sanderson R, Shankar H, Balakireva L, et al. (2014) Scholarly Context Not Found: One in Five Articles Suffers from Reference Rot. PLoS ONE 9(12): e115253. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0115253


Posted in Digital Preservation, Library resources, Proxy services, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Counting Previously Cancelled titles in a LOCKSS Archive

The 2014 SCONUL Statistical Return asks a question about Digital Preservation and Post-Cancellation Access to Electronic Journals. In this post I will try to outline our attempt to answer that question.

Perhaps it is best to start with the question itself. It is a part of question 3.4.3 on the number of serial titles purchases in electronic form only and asks for a count of:

Previously cancelled titles for which hosting fees have been paid in the current year either to the publisher or to another provider such as Portico or LOCKSS.

The question does apply to De Montfort University (but not to all UK Higher Education Institutions) because:

  1. We are members of the UK LOCKSS Alliance and have paid our subscription fee for the current year;
  2. But we are not subscribers to Portico, which at least makes this exercise easier;
  3. We select journals to be archived in LOCKSS that match our subscriptions or interests and some of these titles will have been cancelled as the Institution’s journal requirements changed.
  4. LOCKSS is a key part of the Library’s infrastructure enabling access to electronic resources, being, along with EZproxy, a component enabling access to the articles and books found in our Summon discovery service  ‘Library Search‘ [Login required].
  5. Library Search was introduced in September 2014, outside this SCONUL reporting period. Before that LOCKSS was an optional source of content in our SFX OpenURL Resolver.

Answering the question is not straight-forward, however, as:

  1. The question does not ask for a count of all the journals we have successfully collected in our LOCKSS Archive. De Montfort University’s answer here would be 793.
  2. The question does not ask from how many different journals did LOCKSS supply archived articles (where the articles is either identical to the publisher version or not available from the publisher at all). For January 2014 – July 2014 that total would be 93 for DMU.
  3. It does not want to know about the titles we are collecting now as a precaution against them being cancelled or otherwise unavailable in the future;
  4. It is not interested in the archived Open Access journals to which we may have contributed Article Processing Charges.

That does help with some boundaries, however. The answer for SCONUL cannot be greater than 793. If there are post-cancellation journals archived in LOCKSS, some of them will be among the 93 titles where LOCKSS is involved in serving the content.

LOCKSS does provide COUNTER reports that provide evidence on how the archive is being used. There are reports for both journals and electronic books available in two versions:  Type 1 and 5 relate to JR1 and JR5 reports counting only those items served from the LOCKSS Archive itself. Types 1L and 5L include all the requests passing through the LOCKSS box whether the content was eventually served from the publisher or from LOCKSS.

That report pointed us to publishers where LOCKSS was involved in serving content and that therefore there might be post-cancellation titles among those archived. We could also obtain reports from our electronic journals  management tools (we have Proquest’s 360 service) for those publishers. Checking the overlap between journals archived in LOCKSS and titles in 360 where our subscriptions have ceased enabled us to identify:

  • 17 titles published by Sage where we have post-cancellation access assisted by LOCKSS;
  • Other publishers, OUP and Emerald among them, where there may be other post-cancellation titles.
  • Journals where we have collected material in LOCKSS, but not made this content available to our users. These could also be post-cancellation journals where our access rights would otherwise have been lost.

The checking process also enabled us to check for uncollected volumes of journals to which we have continuing subscriptions.

Access to post-cancellation electronic journals and how to evaluate the success of digital preservation initiatives are both developing areas where ‘best practise’ is yet to be identified. Our attempt to answer SCONUL’s question about our activity in this area does indicate that De Montfort University is taking the challenge seriously and making a difference with the steps taken so far to ensure continuing access to the electronic content that we care about.

 Archived Post-Cancellation Journals in 2014

  1. Action Research; Sage 2003-2012
  2. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education; Sage 2005-2008
  3. British Educational Research Journal; Taylor & Francis 2007-2010
  4. Child Language Teaching and Therapy; Sage 2007
  5. Current Sociology; Sage 2005-2012
  6. differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies; Duke UP 2002-2013
  7. Diplomatic History; OUP 2009
  8. Economic and Industrial Democracy; Sage 2005-2009
  9. Environment and behavior; Sage 2005-2008
  10. Feminist Theory; Sage 2005-2012
  11. Health Policy and Planning; OUP 2005-2012
  12. Human Reproduction; OUP 2005-2012
  13. International and Comparative Law Quarterly; OUP 2005-2007
  14. International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media; Intellect 2006-2013
  15. International Journal of Refugee Law; OUP 2005-2012
  16. Journal of Architecture; Taylor & Francis 1996
  17. Journal of Crime and Justice; Taylor & Francis 2011
  18. Journal of Fashion Marketing and Management; Emerald 2001-2012
  19. Journal of Gender Studies; Taylor & Francis 2011
  20. Journal of Humanistic Psychology; Sage 2005-2012
  21. Journal of Learning Disabilities; Sage 2010-2012
  22. Journal of Management Education; Sage 2005-2012
  23. Journal of Material Culture; Sage 2005-2011
  24. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency; Sage 2005, 2009-2012
  25. Journal of Sport & Social Issues; Sage 2007-2012
  26. Journal of Sports Economics; Sage 2006, 2009
  27. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science; Springer 1997-2011
  28. Nucleic Acids Research; OUP 2005-2012
  29. Organization & Environment; Sage 2009-2012
  30. Planning Practice and Research; Taylor & Francis 2005-2012
  31. Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management; Emerald 2006-2009
  32. Services Marketing Quarterly; Taylor & Francis 2010-2012
  33. Statute Law Review; OUP 2005-2010
  34. The British Journal of Aesthetics; OUP 2005
  35. VLDB Journal; Springer 1997-2010


Posted in Digital Preservation, Library resources, Statistics | Comments Off on Counting Previously Cancelled titles in a LOCKSS Archive

LOCKSS and the DOAJ at DMU

I looked recently at the overlap between the Open Access journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals and De Montfort University’s LOCKSS Digital Preservation system. It is timely to look at this again as the results of the DOAJ Publisher’s Spring Survey have just come out.

This survey included a question about long-term preservation and availability: Were the publishers involved or interested in schemes for achieving long-term access? Of the 942 bodies answering the question only 99 responded positively. 20 of these were already involved in LOCKSS and others cited were CLOCKSS, Portico, PMC and SABER (though low numbers for each of these). Other long-term access schemes mentioned, more vaguely, were journal archives and repositories.

One of the ‘key actions’ recommended by the Finch Report was to develop the Open Access Journal infrastructure, including digital preservation. The report noted that: “we are still some way from a position where there are robust arrangements in place for the long term preservation of digital copies of all issues of all journal titles so that they remain accessible for future generations“.

De Montfort University’s LOCKSS service is a part of that Open Access journal preservation effort. Each institution will have its own collection development policy for building its journal archive, but at DMU 194 DOAJ listed journals have been selected for local preservation. That figure represents 25.9% of the the journals selected, but only 2% of the titles listed in the DOAJ.

The local collection development policy is largely driven by subject librarians. From our holdings it can be seen that there is a desire to assure our community that access to articles in DOAJ Journals can be relied upon for the long-term. We are still waiting for many of the publishers, however, to take up their side of this challenge.


Posted in Digital Preservation | Comments Off on LOCKSS and the DOAJ at DMU

Login to library resources change: Summer 2013

The process of logging into library resources like Science Direct has recently changed. You are now asked to login with a lower case version of your username. If you always used to type in a lowercase username, then this change will make no difference to you, but that is not the case for everyone. The change is small and the differences subtle, but worth exploring.

Before the change you could login as, say,  ‘fbloggs123’ or ‘FBloggs123’ and the form itself did not object. Behind the scenes the username gets encrypted before being sent on the the Service Provider (e.g. Elsevier who run Science Direct). It was kind of nice not to have to remember exactly how you typed in the username last time, the system would still let you in, but once in you might find disadvantages:

  1. Any Saved Searches, Alerts or other Personalised Features made for one encrypted form of you username would not be present for you, and it would not be clear why.
  2. The Service Provider would not know how many individuals were using their service. This may affect their pricing structure and in turn the range of services available to the university.

Both of these disadvantages were removed by having the form insist on lower case user names. However, there have been reports of negative consequences too. So here are ways of getting round them:

Browser insisting on upper case form of Username

Most users reporting this issue have been using Firefox. It appears that Firefox offers to remember usernames for some sites and even if you type in a lower case username will automatically replace your input with its stored uppercase form. The way round this is to delete the stored username in the browser:

  1. Go to the Options item on the Tools menu;
  2. Select the Security tab;
  3. Check out the Exceptions button on the ‘Remember passwords for sites’ section;
  4. Delete any lines with uppercase usernames where these might have caused problems.

Missing profile in RefWorks

If a profile in RefWorks has been created for the uppercase version of your username, this will not be available if you login with the lower case form. It does not mean that the collected references are lost, just that you can’t connect to them. It will require assistance from RefWorks to be re-united with your references. You can call the library for help with this or contact RefWorks directly, email them at

Other missing alerts, searches and profiles

You may have other alerts, saved searches or personalisation features on sites like Scopus, Zetoc or Digimap. The best option here would be to contact the library, email, and we will either raise a call for you or put you in touch with the relevant helpdesk to transfer such features to your new profile on each site.


Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Login to library resources change: Summer 2013

Towards a Vision of Excellence in Diversity #1

For my sins I get to be the DMU UNISON Representative on the University’s Equality and Diversity Committee. This week I was involved in helping the group plan its strategy, considering what it was hoping to achieve and how it might get there. Obviously we are not the only institution thinking about such issues, so I was interested to read a blog post in the Inclusion Solution site which addressed the same discussion, though in more exuberantly american tones.

What would it look like?

What would a university look like if it aimed for and achieved excellence in equality and diversity? One example that came to my mind was how the various sporting groups in the university might have responded to this year’s theme of ‘Racism and Sport‘ for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Sporting groups might meet to talk through how they could respond to this theme; asking themselves if they were missing a trick by not being as diverse as they could be. March is also the month for the Varsity series of local matches with the neighbouring university, so there would be an opportunity for bringing this theme to the attention of a wide range of spectators too.

How would we get there?

Neither of the above quite happened, as far as I know, in 2013. What was missing was an activist group prepared and equipped to prompt things like that into being. You do not need many activists to achieve stuff like this, but they do need to be well informed and well connected. In fact, the Equality and Diversity Committee is well placed to take on this role. It includes people with an interest in this area, spans various parts of the institution, has expertise and connections. Granted, everyone involved also has ‘a day job’ to distract them, but that could also prove a strength if each took on the role of being a Diversity Champion wherever they went.

How far have we got?

There are already examples where glimpses of this vision can be seen. Events like the Religion and Belief Showcase in January 2013 did not just happen, but also set up or refined a template for further events. There are other things going on that I would like to highlight in further posts. In the mean time I would be interested in hearing of your visions of what an institution excellent in celebrating diversity would look like.

What do you think?

Posted in Diversity and Equality | Comments Off on Towards a Vision of Excellence in Diversity #1

Workflow for adding new content to LOCKSS

Every few weeks LOCKSS Alliance members receive a message informing them of the release of the latest batch of Archival Units (mostly journal volumes). At De Montfort University we do not respond immediately, but prefer to wait for the LOCKSS website’s new page to be updated. From the website we download the latest batch details as a spreadsheet. For example, in the first week of March we are working on this spreadsheet with 309 New Volumes. It is a list that usually contains journals to which we are anxious to ensure continuing access, and others to which we either have no preservation rights or no such anxiety.

There are plans for adding new features to LOCKSS in the Summer of 2013 to make activating new content easier. For now, our workflow is as follows:

To sort the LOCKSS list we look to our Electronic Journals A-Z and OpenURL Resolver service SFX, from ExLibris, for a list of all our live holdings. We export all this data into Excel and sort it by ISSN number. Large sections of this list can be ‘pruned’ to remove packages where there are no preservation rights, for example: Proquest, EBSCO, etc.

With the SFX list down to a manageable size, we can use the spreadsheet’s VLOOKUP function to merge data from the two files. We create a new column in the LOCKSS list and match in the threshold data from SFX. Where there is no imported threshold we can delete rows in the LOCKSS list as we would have no rights or interest in these. If the list is short enough, it is worth looking over these matches and removing lines where the LOCKSS AU is outside the subscription threshold range.

Now you could use this list to activate AUs in LOCKSS, but at DMU we go for a further stage and involve subject librarians in the selection stage. The amended list is passed on to them for checking. Only when it has been reviewed and returned do we begin activating the new AUs in LOCKSS.

Once a month, at least, we update SFX, using its ‘dataloader’ with the collected LOCKSS journals and thresholds. It is only at this point that all the effort put into preserving electronic journal content is visible to our users.

Posted in Digital Preservation, OpenURL | Comments Off on Workflow for adding new content to LOCKSS

Assessing the coverage by LOCKSS of Free Electronic Journals

LOCKSS, as a electronic journal digital preservation system, covers subscribed and freely available journals. I have been looking at the balance of activated titles at De Montfort University and found about 43% to be subscribed titles and 27% to be journals listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.
A further category of journals would be those available without charge, but not included in the DOAJ. These would be included in the SFX Free ejournals target. However there might be an overlap between this target and the DOAJ.

Num. of Titles Unique Title Overlap % Unique Titles % Title Overlap
Set 1 676 557 119 82.4 17.6
LOCKSS 676 557 119 82.4 17.6
Set 2 20479 20360 119 99.4 0.6
Free E- Journals 20479 20360 119 99.4 0.6

The overlap between LOCKSS and DOAJ/Free Ejournals combined in 276 titles or 40.8%.

Posted in Digital Preservation | Comments Off on Assessing the coverage by LOCKSS of Free Electronic Journals

Assessing the coverage by LOCKSS of subscription journals

A previous post looked at the count of Open Access journals being preserved in the De  Montfort University LOCKSS service. The figure came out as 27% of LOCKSS titles being represented in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

It may be worth looking at the figures for subscribed journals as well. To do this I used the same SFX Collection Tool to look at the overlap between activated LOCKSS titles and packages of journals where a subscription is required.

Num. of Titles Unique Title Overlap % Unique Titles % Title Overlap
Set 1 676 384 292 56.8 43.2
LOCKSS 676 384 292 56.8 43.2
Set 2 763 471 292 61.7 38.3
BMJ Journals Online Archive 6 2 4 33.3 66.7
Edinburgh University Press 3 0 3 0.0 100.0
Emerald Current 62 43 19 69.4 30.6
Emerald Management Xtra 111 162 77 85 47.5 52.5
Highwire Press American Association for Cancer Research 3 1 2 33.3 66.7
Highwire Press American Association of Immunologists 1 1 0 100.0 0.0
Highwire Press American Speech Language Hearing Association 6 6 0 100.0 0.0
Highwire Press Journals 28 13 15 46.4 53.6
Highwire Press University of Wisconsin Press 1 1 0 100.0 0.0
MetaPress Journals 17 13 4 76.5 23.5
Miscellaneous Ejournals 106 105 1 99.1 0.9
Oxford University Press Journals 51 11 40 21.6 78.4
Portland Press 2 1 1 50.0 50.0
SAGE Communication Studies Full Text Collection 19 0 19 0.0 100.0
SAGE Complete 114 29 85 25.4 74.6
Springer Complete Collection 94 93 1 98.9 1.1
Taylor & Francis Journals Complete 142 106 36 74.6 25.4

In Set 1 there are the 676 titles archived in LOCKSS and a reported 43.2% match between these and the titles collected from a variety of publishers in set 2. The second set does not list all the subscriptions taken at DMU, so one should be wary of concluding that 38.3% of such material is archived in LOCKSS. The main interest in this report is in the lines for each publisher and their coverage in LOCKSS.

  • Title coverage is complete for Edinburgh University Press and the Sage Communication Studies package.
  • Title coverage is at 50% or over for BMJ, Emerald Management Xtra, American Association for Cancer Research, Highwire Press, OUP, Portland Press and Sage Complete.
  • Title coverage is low for Miscellaneous Ejournals and Springer.

It should be recognized that just because a title appears in LOCKSS, it does not mean that every relevant article has been archived. There is further work to be done on examining the range of extent of LOCKSS Archival Units for each selected title.

There are also more titles in LOCKSS not included in this or the DOAJ report, so these will still need to be identified before a full picture of LOCKSS coverage at DMU can be determined.


Posted in Digital Preservation | Comments Off on Assessing the coverage by LOCKSS of subscription journals