Improving the Electronic Texts Service

Ben Catt explains how the introduction of the CLA Digital Content Store has led to enhancements to the Electronic Texts Service.


One of the many ways in which the Library can provide students with easy access to essential reading is through the Electronic Texts Service. If a book or journal is only available in print then teaching staff can request a digitised version of a key chapter or article for their resource lists. This is useful for both campus-based and distance learning students, especially for large courses where print availability is limited to one or two copies. Requests are easy to submit through our reading list software EARL (the deadline for Spring Term resource lists is Monday 21 November) and the Library produces over 2,000 scans each year. Our scans are high resolution and use optical character recognition for improved accessibility.

The process behind this service has been improved for the 2016/17 academic year thanks to the introduction of the Digital Content Store, a platform developed by the Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) to help the Library streamline resource list digitisation workflows. Copying extent limits have also been increased from 5% to 10% per publication for each module (or one chapter/article, whichever is greater). This will provide the Library with greater flexibility to fulfil requests whilst complying with the CLA's Higher Education scanning licence.

Another major benefit of the DCS is that the Library can share digitised content with other participating Universities (currently 60 institutions across the UK) provided that they own or subscribe to the title, to save duplication of scanning. It also integrates the Enhanced Higher Education Supply Service (EHESS), offered by the CLA and British Library for supplying copyright-compliant, digitised content where we do not have an original print copy in our collections (or if the items are on loan, in-use or missing). The DCS also aligns with processes involved in the Library's new permissions clearance pilot service, whereby we can contact publishers directly to request digitisation permission if a title is excluded from the CLA licence. This will significantly increase the scope of digitised publications the Library is able to provide for course reading.

On the surface, the process for staff to submit digitisation requests remains unchanged. However, behind the scenes the DCS can automate a range of Library processes such as ownership verification, licence compliance checking, and annual reporting tasks. The DCS is integrated with the Library's resource management system (Ex Libris Alma), containing the data behind our collections which displays in YorSearch. This streamlined, cohesive approach will increase the responsiveness of the services the Library can offer, in keeping with our principles of providing efficient access to resources in high demand.

We welcome any feedback from staff and students on the DCS (or the Electronic Texts Service in general): lib-resourcelists@york.ac.uk

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