Web Magazine for Information Professionals

ResIDe: Electronic Reserve for UK Universities

Tessa Bruce describes an electronic reserve system at the University of the West of England.

The aim of ResIDe is to pilot an electronic reserve system or short loan collection aimed at students in the Faculty of the Built Environment (FBE). UWE Library Services and Faculty of Built Environment are working with the ESRC Data Archive, Museum of London, Institute of Housing and Ordnance Survey on this project.

Why develop an electronic reserve system?

Changes in patterns of teaching and learning have led to a decrease in academic staff/student contact hours and a greater reliance upon student centred learning. This has resulted in an increase in student use of the library and other learning resources. The modularisation of courses has resulted in peak periods of very heavy demand for some learning materials as hundreds of students taking a single module can be required to access the same items to complete assignments.

Traditional print-based short loan (reserve) collections have attempted to address some of these problems. Books, journals and course readers have been made available for students to physically borrow once having made the journey to the library.

Reside Logo This, however, does tend to create difficulties for part-time students, distance learners and the disabled, and is itself often inadequate to meet the very specific demands and timescales of project work and assessments. Simultaneous use of the same materials would enable better management of peak demands. Similarly, the material could be date stamped to alert the library when it becomes redundant. The cyclical nature of assignment work would require the materials to be held as an archive for rapid re-submission to the collection at the appropriate time.

The Faculty of the Built Environment have developed a system called ResIDe (as part of the DevR Research programme) which is designed to improve the research infrastructure in the faculty by enhancing access to information sources such as the ESRC Data Archive, Institute of Housing database, computer aided learning material, numeric data, geospatial data and Ordnance Survey maps. We decided to build on this system to provide electronic reserve (or short loan collection) services to staff and students.

Copyright issues

Copyright obligations apply to the information held and accessed by the system. In order to fulfil the requirements of the various rights holders it has been necessary to develop a capacity to control access to data through the use of forms and audit trail techniques. ResIDe has tackled each of these on a case by case basis but it is apparent during the development of the system that a more global approach is necessary to ensure the sustainability of the system and its wider application in the University sector.

So far copyright management has been developed in ResIDe for specific data and with particular security arrangements. Forms have been established for requests for data provision together with an "honour" system of enforced awareness of the copyright issues as the forms will not submit until acknowledgement of the copyright terms and conditions have been reviewed and acknowledged.

We aim to build on this system to ensure that copyright law is complied with automatically before materials are submitted to the e-reserve.

Collection management and metadata

Currently data entry is eased by using forms to prompt for data which is then held in MS Access. The project will build on this to provide additional information to aid collection management and to enhance the automated aspects of this process by using scripts to pass information between the database infrastructure and the Netscape interface. These mechanisms are currently in place for ESRC data and OS data.

Information will be controlled by fields for time and date of data-entry, period prior to review, period for removal from the active system, together with version code, originator, inputter, reviewers and quality control.


Empowering the user.

Users will be encouraged to enter their own materials by using templates, unless they have compelling reasons to develop their own idiosyncratic material. Templates will ensure a minimum standard of data entry. Data entry will alert a peer review process to check on the quality of the submission before publication, depending upon the level of access identified for the material. i.e. a closed group would not mandate review, while identification of open access across the WWW would mandate review.

The project seeks to provide the greatest flexibility for the management of the electronic reserve system. We aim to develop a system which can support mediated document deposit if required, but which also supports the empowerment of users to submit their own materials via the copyright and data entry management system. The Project strives to incorporate high functionality and extensibility - even if not fully exploited initially.

Integration with other library services

The project will address the request of materials to comply with a reading list and their subsequent electronic management and link to information. This will be achieved through the use of standard software and protocols such as Z39.50 in conjunction with investigation of the flexibility of the copyright mechanisms developed and meta-data entered to aid collection management.

For further information, please contact Tessa Bruce, IT Development Librarian, UWE Bristol.