Apr 262015

In a recent post, we introduced two of the four personas that have emerged through the consultation work we have been doing with libraries and archiving agencies. The consultation was an opportunity to learn about our users and their jobs, the kinds of priorities they have and where they have to and want to focus their resources.   We are creating personas by identifying common themes and positions: as we explained, they do not represent real individuals, who may have attributes of multiple personas or who may not conform to any, but rather they are simplified ‘types’ to help us keep our users at the forefront of our thoughts as we develop the registry and the Keepers Extra project. This post introduces the remaining two personas we are working with.


cross checker medium3. The Cross Checker“I need to confirm the details”


 This persona is task-oriented and typically works in a ‘publisher relations’ role that may include checking licences, negotiation of subscriptions, or monitoring publisher behaviour for accreditation or authentication. Their working contexts and priorities can vary quite dramatically but for a variety of reasons they need to cross check information from publishers and to double check that preservation activity is taking place as described. They typically think of the archiving agencies as ‘insurance policies’ and are not invested in the idea of preservation, seeing it as someone else’s responsibility. This persona typically discovered the Keepers Registry through word of mouth and now uses it regularly as part of their workflow, searching on a publisher basis and getting enough information to satisfy their requirements.



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. The Collection Analyst“I want control over how I filter and sort the data.”
 Working with large digital collections, typically in an archiving agency, this persona is concerned with monitoring preservation coverage for a large number of titles.  They have multiple responsibilities which include reviewing and reporting on their own collection, developing collections, or finding new markets/publishers, and they typically use holdings data in multiple workflows. Their priority is to ensure the integrity of their collection, identifying where there are gaps in their holdings that could be filled or whether there journals relevant to their collection priorities that are ‘at risk of loss’.  The Collection Analyst has plenty of ideas about how they could use the data, and would like to be able to arrange it according to their own parameters of interest, which might be subject-specific, geographical, historical or otherwise.  They understand the Keepers Registry and the issues around standardisation of data.
Apr 202015

As part of the initial research for the Keepers Extra project we have been speaking to archiving agencies about their use of the Keepers Registry and about the global digital preservation landscape more generally. Several common themes have emerged from these discussions.  We were delighted to hear that the Keepers Registry is highly regarded among the Keeper agencies and potential Keepers, and viewed as an important service and a way to increase the visibility of work in the field of digital preservation. There is wide recognition that the Keepers Registry occupies a unique position in having established productive working relationships with many major archiving agencies, and that this is a positive position from which to facilitate communication and collaboration.

There was also broad consensus on the need for more discussion between the Keepers, particularly around the areas of standardisation of data and tackling the long tail. Many of the Keeper agencies wish to use the Keepers Registry in order to analyse gaps and overlaps in what is being preserved. For some, this would be a way of analysing their own collections with a view to working at the title level to complete runs of particular journals. For others, it would offer a way to identify material ‘at risk of loss’ and therefore a way to prioritise publishers or titles for preservation. In both cases, doing such analyses quickly and efficiently depends on being able to access easily comparable data, so a better standardisation of data would be very helpful. This would also assist the sharing of data and impact on the ways in which an API could be used to integrate the Keepers Registry information into other systems and processes.

A further common theme was the challenge of preserving the ‘long tail’ of e-journals produced by small publishers and bodies such as academic societies or university departments. The key issues here are funding, scalability (or lack thereof), and division of labour. Reaching out to small publishers takes a lot of resources, human and financial, so this work is expensive. For every publisher that an agency works with, there are negotiations around a contract and costs around setting up technology and establishing protocols. If that publisher produces 300 journals, there is an economy of scale that justifies the cost. However, if that publisher produces only one journal, it suddenly becomes a very expensive process indeed. In such a context, having multiple agencies spend those resources on the same material seems illogical, yet there is no established way for agencies to cooperate to ensure as broad a coverage as possible. So there seem to be two potential ways of approaching this challenge: on the one hand finding ways to scale up the work and, on the other, finding ways to meet or lower the costs.

Apr 152015

Throughout the last two months we have been engaged in consultation work with libraries and archiving agencies. As well as getting feedback on the registry and on our project plans, we have been using this opportunity to learn more about the workflows, decisions and challenges that face the people who use Keepers Registry. Sifting through these interviews for common themes and concerns, we are in the process of developing a set of personas that will guide development of the registry and the directions of the Keepers Extra project. Personas do not represent real individuals, who may have attributes of multiple personas or who may not conform to any, but rather they are simplified ‘types’ which we can keep in mind as we work to ensure we are meet the needs of our different users.  This post introduces two of the four key personas that we have identified.

  1. Woman working on computer in libraryThe Trouble Shooter


“I don’t have time to figure out how to use new tools”


This persona has a variety of responsibilities, typically working as part of a small team and often with comparatively few resources. Their job involves dealing with queries, working with others to make decisions about subscriptions and cancellations, maintaining data about their e-journal holdings and library systems, and responding to issues and challenges as they arise. The key priority of this persona is ensuring access and making their collections as discoverable and easy to use as possible. The trouble-shooter researches post cancellation access when they want to make decisions about cancelling particular titles, as part of an annual review in the summer months, or when they want to withdraw print. They currently have to check several sources to find data on holdings, licences and preservation, and they sometimes require input from agents and/or publishers.  They would like to have a more efficient way of analysing their collections and researching titles, but struggle to make time to research potential services and tools. 


  1. Discussing business strategyThe Strategist


“I wish all these systems would speak to one another more effectively” 


At a senior managerial level, this persona has a broad awareness of current debates in the library and information sector and of the issues involved in digital collections management and preservation. They have responsibility for a team and for oversight of development projects and annual reviews, although typically they will be delegating research and administrative tasks. Their priorities are operational, typically around the smooth functioning of library workflows and systems integration, and they have the authority to implement change and the resources to develop projects. The Strategist recognises the importance of being able to guarantee perpetual access to research and learning communities, and they understand the risks in relying on publishers for preservation.  They typically know of the Keepers Registry and see its value, although not necessarily how it could fit into regular workflows.  They would be keen to support archiving initiatives and would like to be able to confidently assure their stakeholders of post cancellation access. However, they typically feel there are other more pressing priorities at their institution and they may not have considered the kinds of strategic or collaborative action that could be taken. 


Both the Trouble-Shooter and the Strategist personas have emerged from our library consultations. In a future post, we will introduce the personas emerging from our other research exercises.

Mar 232015

To accompany development of a new release of the Keepers Registry, we have been conducting a number of consultation exercises to gather feedback from our users. One of the key points that emerged from these interviews is that use of the Keepers Registry has been incidental rather than systematic. Librarians and archivists have turned to Keepers Registry when they have needed to investigate the archival status of a single title or publisher, or when they have had a one-off task to complete, such as checking the preservation of numerous titles as part of a project to analyse collections and make decisions about withdrawals. While the filters we currently have allow them to do this, having to work at the level of single title or publisher makes the registry less practical for regular, large-scale analysis.

screen shot of title list comparsion featureTwo of the tools that we are currently working on are designed to address this issue. Our member services area, now undergoing final testing before public release, features two services designed to enable users to work with collection lists and larger scale holdings data. A title list comparison tool allows users to upload a list of titles with ISSNs and get a tailored report of the preservation status of the collection.

We have been trialling an early version of this since last summer and with some more development work completed recently, including an improved registration process, we are about to begin user testing with a view to launching the tool later this spring. Once registered, users can find guidance on preparing their data and case studies of how such data can be used. Librarians can upload lists generated from their library catalogue and then receive a report identifying how many of those titles have been preserved. As part of the Keepers Extra project we’ve started looking at how to return this information via a more manageable online interface, adding useful filters and more intuitive data visualisations.

Also forthcoming is an API that will allow data from the Keepers Registry to be integrated with other services used by libraries. This will be released at the same time as the Title List Comparison feature, and we’re looking forward to working with service providers to see how this data can be integrated more directly into library workflows.
If you would be interested in testing the title list comparison tool or have feedback that you’d like to share, please get in touch.

Jan 122015

Jisc have invested in Keepers Extra, a 2-year project to optimize the benefit of the Keepers Registry service to UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and other key stakeholders. Led by EDINA, Keepers Extra builds on the success of the Keepers Registry service, which provides easily accessible information about the archiving arrangements for electronic journals. 

We will be using this blog to discuss the Keepers Extra project, update the Keepers Registry community on progress, and discuss the themes raised in the project.  In this first introductory blog, we consider the need and rationale for the Keepers Extra project.

The last decade has seen an explosive growth in on-line scholarly publishing. Rather than reading journals onsite at the library, researchers and students alike expect to access and consult papers and articles quickly and easily from their own computers. University libraries increasingly provide access to material hosted by publishers, paying subscriptions for access to journals on-line rather than for printed back copies. These changes have had significant ramifications for libraries in terms of how their spaces and collections are used, fundamentally changing the priorities and collection management policies of some institutions. The rapid transformation to an electronic environment has had many benefits including faster and more flexible access to journal articles. However, it has also given rise to significant issues surrounding the longer term accessibility of scholarly material and these new e-journal publishing and subscription practices have implications on the library’s traditional role of stewardship. The consequences of these changes are not yet clear, but they raise many questions: when libraries pay for access rather than for an object, what happens when that access is halted? How does a researcher consult a ‘back copy’ when their library no longer subscribes? What happens when a title is transferred between publishers or when a publisher goes out of business? Publishers have not historically taken that role of stewardship and if libraries are no longer the collectors and custodians of the scholarly record, who is responsible for ensuring that the world’s knowledge is preserved for the future?

In 2011, analysis undertaken by the Keepers Registry team showed that of all the continuing resources assigned ISSNs, only around 20% was safely archived. That means that an astonishing 80% of contemporary scholarship published in e-journals is at risk of loss.

Launched in 2011 in partnership between EDINA and the ISSN International Centre, the Keepers Registry was designed to enable its users to see what scholarly e-journal content has been preserved, by whom and under what terms of access. The Keepers Registry aggregates metadata from participating archiving agencies and, using the ISSN-L as a unique identifier for journal titles, it serves as a showcase for the work of the Keepers, the archiving agencies undertaking the vitally important task of ensuring that the scholarly record is preserved for future generations. These include national libraries, research library consortia and not-for-profit initiatives such as Portico and CLOCKSS. In addition to revealing precisely which journals and volumes are safely stored, the Registry is helping us to understand what is not being archived.  By analysing the extent of archiving by usage, or by country of publication, we can begin to understand the extent of publications that remain at risk of loss.

Keepers Registry is becoming established as an important tool in library workflows, but the challenge of increasing preservation coverage remains, hence the need for Keepers Extra.

Keepers Extra is a community-driven project designed to build on the Registry and explore the challenges that it brings into focus. As well as enabling feature developments that will ensure the service is maximally useful to the library community and Keeper agencies, it will encourage new archiving agencies to join the Keepers community and lay the foundations for collaboration among key stakeholders both nationally and internationally. Strategically, Keepers Extra lets us explore how as a community we might work together to increase the preservation coverage of scholarly e-journals.