Conversion Without Worry

  • Paul Ayris
    Director of UCL Library Services and UCL Copyright Officer
    UCL (University College, London), London, United Kingdom

UCL is a large, research-led University in the centre of London. The strategy of UCL Library Services is to keep researchers in Science, Technology and Medicine out of the library buildings altogether.
Instead, the Library wishes to offer electronic delivery to its users 24×7, anytime, any place, anywhere.

One of the great constraints in moving to e-only delivery – canceling our paper copies – is the lack of trusted digital archive arrangements. For 2007, UCL has engaged in a pilot whereby just over 500 journal titles have been cancelled in paper copy, where the digital equivalent exists in Portico. UCL will rely on publishers for e-delivery and will rely on Portico for digital archiving and providing long-term trusted digital access when defined trigger events lead to loss of access to publishers’ content. UCL became an Archive Founder member of Portico in December 2006. Should the pilot be successful, UCL believes that it will have a scaleable option for managing the entirety of its research collections of journal literature.

UCL Library Services sees digital curation as one of the deliverables of its new Library Strategy. In the LIFE project, a collaboration with the British Library, LIFE (Phase 1) has developed a Generic Preservation Model for costing digital curation at an item level: preservation equals technology watch plus preservation frequency multiplied by overall preservation action.

All this fits into a formula for identifying the whole lifecycle costs of digital objects over time. LIFE (Phase 2) is further refining and developing the formulae. The result will establish benchmarks for local digital curation services in a University or National Library. It is irresponsible to create or store digital objects and not to curate them digitally. The result of this work will facilitate the creation of a local digital curation service in UCL Library Services.

However, UCL does not see itself as having a role in the e-curation of e-journals. It looks to Portico and similar offerings for this and is happy to work in collaboration with partners to support the maintenance of trusted digital repositories across the globe. The landscape in information provision is fast-changing, and digital curation marks an important step on the road to research libraries being able to achieve key strategic goals.