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The KB+ Project (2011-2013)

KB+ Project Principles

KB+ started to address the needs of the UK Academic Community by:

  • Providing a knowledge base of accurate and up to date resource management information, such as publication, licensing and subscription information
  • Reducing the barriers to sharing data between diverse systems.
  • Minimising the costly duplication of staff time and effort in the population, maintenance and correction of knowledge bases thereby providing an opportunity for institutions to focus the application of e-resource information towards improved services.
  • Helping institutions generate improved return on investment in library and e-resource management systems
  • Putting in place a framework for shared community activity and partnership that reduced the burden on individual institutions whilst increasing the breadth of activity that could be undertaken.

1.    Key Deliverables

i.    KB+ platform with user interface allowing academic institutions, suppliers, publishers and others to navigate, manage and manipulate data, supported by access management and permission tools.
ii.    Verified, accurate and up-to-date publication information for NESLi2, Jisc eCollections, SHEDL and WHEEL agreements in KBART format, suitable for use by link-resolvers
iii.    Subscription management information – such as post-cancellation access entitlement information, contact information, access management records.
iv.    Licences in machine readable formats for NESLi2, major Jisc Collections and major non-Jisc Collections agreements
v.    Integrated usage statistics in machine readable format for NESLi2 publishers and other publishers stored within the Journals Usage Statistics Portal.
vi.    Alerting services covering renewals, opt outs, service availability and disruption.
vii.    Workflow management tools related to the selection, review, renewal and cancellation of publications.


This document explains the principles that KB+ was guided by in support of these objectives:

2.    Structured and Open Data

2.1.    Structured Data:

i.    In order to facilitate interoperability and the sharing of data between a variety of systems, KB+ made data available in a structured format in accordance with the requirements of the agreed data models, defined standards and recommendations for the structure of e-resource information (e.g. COUNTER, ONIX messages, KBART) and the findings of relevant projects such as the Entitlement Registry Scoping Study.

ii.    In order to facilitate interoperability and exchange of data, KB+ required data provided by third parties to be provided in accordance with the requirements of (i.) above.

iii.    It was a stated aim of KB+ that it undertook verification of data to maintain its accuracy and quality.

2.2.    Open Data

i.    In order to facilitate the use and re-use of data in KB+ in support of the widest range of library requirements, the data used by, and made available by KB+ was open and made use of relevant open licences such as Open Database Commons Open Database Licence. Whilst it was recognised that it was not always possible to make use of open data, or make data openly available, KB+ always supported making data openly available and advocated open data in its discussions with stakeholders.

ii.    The KB+ project recognised that the requirements of (i) above were not always possible for reasons of data protection, commercial confidentiality and prevailing attitudes of the stakeholders. Where the long term objectives of KB+ and the institutions it served were judged by the Project Board to be best served by data that wasn’t ‘open’, KB+ made use of such data.

3.    Adoption and Implementation of Technical Standards
Interoperability between systems for the exchange and use of e-resource information were central to the vision for and success of KB+.
The ERM environment was well served by standards for the exchange of such data (e.g. ONIX, SUSHI) and KB+ adopted and implemented such standards and support and encouraged the adoption and implementation of such standards by stakeholders such as publishers, academic institutions, systems vendors and subscription agents.

The Project Board approved the standards adopted by the KB+ as advised by the Project Team and the Technical Advisory Group.

4.    Participation
KB+ was based upon partnership with the academic library community and other stakeholders. In all cases, aside from Standards Bodies, it was intended that the stakeholder would be both a supplier and consumer of the data managed by KB+.

4.1    UK Academic Community
KB+ was developed with the requirements of UK HE libraries in mind, however the service was open to all higher, further education institutions, and research councils in the UK. The full list can be found at:    

http://www.jisc-collections.ac.uk/Help-and-information/JISC-Banding/HE-A-J-banding-list/

http://www.jisc-collections.ac.uk/Help-and-information/JISC-Banding/FE-A-J-banding-list/
http://www.jisc-collections.ac.uk/Help-and-information/JISC-Banding/Research-Councils-banding-list/

4.2   Non-UK Academic Community
KB+ operated in an international context where there was ongoing interest in shared services for ERM information. There were valuable opportunities for KB+ to learn and benefit from such initiatives.
The adoption of appropriate standards and schema for the exchange and maintenance of information enabled KB+ to engage with such initiatives as appropriate, and the project welcomed those contributions.
Nonetheless, it was important that KB+ maintained the ability to function effectively and avoided dependencies that were not guaranteed.

4.3    Publishers and Platform Hosts
Publishers were a key source of information - subscription, publication, holdings, contact – for KB+. However, publishers did not always provide this information in a structured format, or with reference to particular agreements of the UK academic community.
In its licence agreements with publishers JISC Collections required the provision of accurate and timely publication information in a structured format. KB+ worked with publishers to enable them to meet these requirements more consistently.
The project encouraged publishers to deposit relevant information in KB+, as a trusted partner, and also encouraged publishers to make use of the data held within KB+ - for example on institutional entitlements – to improve the service that they were able to offer their customers.
Where a publisher used a platform provider to host their content, it was also necessary to engage with that provider to get access to the required data. Furthermore, platform providers were able to provide structured data on behalf of a wide number of publishers, reducing the work involved and simplifying the data collection process for all concerned.

4.4    Library and Electronic Resource Management Systems Suppliers
The KB+ project engaged with Library and Electronic Resource Management Systems suppliers through the provision of access to the information held within KB+.
By providing information that was accurate, up-to-date, relevant and comprehensive for the UK academic community, KB+ sought to address the gaps in existing offerings and allow suppliers to improve their products.
The KB+ project was impartial and neutral in its engagement with suppliers (commercial or open source, established or new) save for the fact that it sought them to adopt the same standards as KB+ for the exchange of information.
The project encouraged suppliers to make data available via KB+ for use and re-use, however, it acknowledged that commercial sensitivities limited the extent to which this was possible, and decisions were taken balancing the value of any data against the impacts from the limitation of its use.

4.5    Subscription Agents
The KB+ project engaged with Subscription Agents suppliers through the provision of access to the information held within KB+.
By providing information that was accurate, up-to-date, relevant and comprehensive for the UK academic community, KB+ sought to address the gaps in existing offerings and allow subscription agents to improve their products.
The KB+ project was impartial and neutral in its engagement with subscription agents save for the fact that it sought them to adopt the same standards as KB+ for the exchange of information.
The project encouraged subscription agents to make data available via KB+ for use and re-use, however, it acknowledged that commercial sensitivities limited the extent to which this was possible, and decisions were taken balancing the value of any data against the impacts from the limitation of its use.

4.6    Standards Bodies
There were a wide variety of existing standards and recommendations for the structure and exchange of ERM information, however rates of adoption and implementation were inconsistent.
The KB+ project worked with standards and related bodies such as NISO, EDItEUR and UKSG to identify the most relevant standards and promote their adoption and use.
Where appropriate, representatives of these groups were invited to join the KB+ Advisory Groups.

5.    Commercial confidentiality
The underlying ethos of KB+ was openness and sharing of data, however, given the range and the nature of the data handled by KB+ this was not always possible. Where the use of commercially sensitive data placed the overall ability of KB+ to fulfil its objectives in doubt, special attention was given to the use of alternative sources of data which provided for greater utility.

However, when the interests of KB+ and its users were best served by the use of commercially sensitive data KB+ took the responsibility of collecting and displaying commercially sensitive data very seriously and took the following steps to safe guard all stakeholders’ confidentiality:

i.    Access to KB+ was via the UK Access Management Federation.
Only members of staff authorised by an academic institution were able to access their own institution's protected data. They were unable to access the protected data of another institution.
ii.    Commercially sensitive data provided for use within KB+ was only made openly available with the permission of the data supplier and any institution to which that data made reference.
iii.    The KB+ project investigated methods of making data more widely available, for example via anonymisation.

6.    Legal Framework
In order to safeguard the interests of all participants in KB+ and to ensure that activity proceeded on a basis of mutual trust and understanding, KB+ was underpinned by a legal framework including intellectual property and data protection.
KB+ only used data from institutions, publishers, suppliers and authority files that had signed a participation agreement covering the extent and use of data and any licences under which that data was deposited or used.
The ownership of any IPR in any outputs (e.g. software) created by and for the project was assigned to HEFCE, and IPR necessary to run any service arising from the project was licensed to HEFCE and its representatives on a royalty-free and irrevocable basis.

7.    Business Model
Ensuring the long term sustainability of KB+ was a key objective of the project and the project team investigated a range of models in support of this.
Potential business models were investigated with reference to a range of stakeholders – HEFCE, JISC, institutions, EDINA, MIMAS, SCONUL and suppliers.
A proposal for the sustainability and business model to support KB+ was presented to the Project Board in early summer 2012 for review.

8.    Development Strategy
Feedback from libraries and publishers informed KB+ developments and enhancements. These were prioritised through consultation with libraries and publishers.