In August 1998, the HERON (Higher Education Resources Online) project will begin to create a resource bank of teaching and learning support materials for higher education. Funded by eLib and overseen by the CEI (Committee on Electronic Information) the entire resource will have copyright clearance and will be based on a consortium of the universities of Stirling, Napier and South Bank, with Blackwell's Information Services and Blackwell Retail Ltd. It will draw on the combined technical, marketing and project management skills of both the university and the private sector. JISC is providing £462,000 funding.
Quick and effective copyright clearance procedures will be put in place with the co-operation of the Copyright Licensing Agency. Rights holders will also be properly compensated.
The intention is that all Higher Education Institutions will be invited to become subscribers. For their subscriptions they will have access to material in the resource bank, with copyright clearance. New material can be digitised on request, and any member institution will be able to deposit their own electronic materials. Royalties will be paid for the use of these resources.
Material will be distributed through a number of channels. Institutions can provide local electronic storage with print facilities, or various arrangements can be made with bookshops, so that if necessary the entire process can be handled externally.
Publisher liaison and marketing will be the responsibility of Blackwell Retail Ltd and Blackwell's Information Services. They will also be heavily involved in system development. The HEI's will create the digital resource bank and represent the interests of higher education in matters to do with rights.
The project is seen by the publishing industry as an initiative which will enhance teaching and learning, develop the use of electronic storage and delivery and also ensure fairness for copyright holders. The publishing sector will contribute academic market expertise and software innovation to the partnership with the universities.
The challenge is seen by Peter Kemp, Director of Information Services at the University of Stirling, as an opportunity to resolve the final permissions issues, to underpin the existing eLib projects and to stimulate on demand printing and electronic resource creation. "Our priorities will be to maintain the momentum of the current eLib projects, to achieve a breakthrough in the remaining copyright clearance blockages, to represent the needs of HE to rights holders, and to encourage the expansion of on demand printing and Peter Kemp, Director of Information Services at the University of Stirling commented "Our priorities will be to maintain the momentum of the current eLib projects, to achieve a breakthrough in the remaining copyright clearance blockages, to represent the needs of HE to rights-holders, and to encourage the expansion of on-demand printing and electronic reserves throughout universities in the UK. We look forward too the challenge."