Q&A – IOM3 digitisation of the library

26 Apr 2019

Katherine Williams and Hilda Kaune on the digitisation of the IOM3 Library

Tell us about the digitisation of the library.

KW: We decided it was time to bring the library into the 21st Century. We have members globally and it can be quite hard for them to access all the content here in the UK. It is a project that has taken some time to reach its launch, more or less starting around 2014–2015, working with various suppliers on what they can offer us.

HK: We are very happy with the results and now it is a case of the library being used and adding more content along the way.

Will this be a member benefit going forward?

KW: At the moment, it is free access to all until 2020. Once we revamp our CRM system then we will be able to lock it down as free to members and paid access for non-members. At that point, we will also be able to upload more content.

HK: One of our main objectives when we started this process was that it was going to be available free of charge to members of the Institute and then anyone outside could also access this as an e-commerce type service. We hope in turn this will also raise the profile of IOM3.

Did you draw any inspiration from others?

KW: We went and visited IMechE and its library services. Staff there  were incredibly helpful and we could draw a lot of comparisons with their content and our own.

HK: IMechE also are offering other resources beyond their own collection and publications called aggregators. Those other organisations provide resources including electronic journals, e-books and other databases. Being a member of the Engineering Institutions Librarian Committee has enabled me to share information and experiences. The knowledge I have, apart from my own reading, is through sharing with others.

What do the collections include?

KW: We have a lot of mining content, including the Transactions of the Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, and a heavy focus on iron and steel in the early years of the Institute, but also 1969 when the centenary was. We also have textbooks, conference proceedings and various other content, and we have just started publishing content on ceramics and wood.

HK: The content are those of IOM3 publications and its predecessors, and in most cases are IOM3 copyright. There are a few articles whereby we have sought permission for the content to be published through our digital library offering.

KW: One of the really exciting things that we are currently waiting upon is the transactions of the Cleveland Institute of Engineering. They have very kindly let us have access but that content will only appear once member-only access is implemented.

HK: The other main function is the selection of minerals and mining articles for example OneMine. There are more articles in our collection than those that are currently shared via OneMine.

How did you find the whole process?

KW: This project has been a big part of both of our lives since it began. We started with a pilot project that represented the Institute’s interests and trialled the different sizes of text, quality, and paper types.

HK: We were testing our own collection and also the provider – how capable they would be, how they would manage the content from maps and diagrams to folded papers and normal text. This was because some of our content is old so we needed to make sure that the paper copy was clear.

KW: Part of the process was asking our members’ about digitation of the library and the feedback was clear – access anytime, anywhere and quickly. People want access to information then and there, and now they aren’t willing to travel to a physical library to get it.

HK: We worked with the Younger Members’ Committee, various communities from IOM3, members of Council, Past Presidents and various staff as well. The process was very lengthy.

KW: In every case, we prepared the physical volume, so for example with older journals, some papers are broken up, images are separate from the text and they are not very well labelled. A lot of work went into looking at the volumes and making sure everything goes together and is well labelled.

HK: We identified various publications for the subject area and once they had been selected we went through the process of preparing them. We were confronted with various issues, as the publishing modes can be so different, depending on the time of publication. Once the material has been prepared, we do an inventory to make sure the content is safe and returned into the condition it was sent in.

What were some of your biggest challenges?

KW: The sheer volume of content we have. We have a major library of content and three staff members dealing with this - so please, members, bear with us while we are working on items for your area of interest. You would be surprised at the cross propagation across the divisions.

HK: Our areas are so interdisciplinary that we cannot just bracket something eg as ‘ceramics’ because it goes into other areas and could be equally important to the mining or minerals community. For example, there are a number of mining records about wood.

The library was launched on our Inauguration Day on 25 February. Can you tell us more about this specific collection?

HK: As you mentioned, there was a centenary volume of the Iron and Steel Journal dated to 1969, as well as the first five volumes back in 1869. There is content on Bessemer, Isaac Lowthian Bell and the Duke of Devonshire. All the great British representations of iron and steel at the time are mentioned.

KW: It is interesting how they were dealing with the same problems that we are still dealing with today. They are starting to question sustainability – emissions from industry, use of high-temperature materials and technologies are all discussed in a slightly different context to how they are today. There was so much interest and knowledge exchange in this area and coming together to share that information and prepare conferences and meetings on the different issues to discuss matters of great importance.

Who will be handling the collection?

KW: The two of us, alongside Frances Perry who will be handling the mining content. We do not have currently content relating to all our 22 divisions, however we do hope everybody will be represented in some way.

HK: We have a range of content from historical content to standard textbook information for students, as well as millennial stuff too. Some things never change, for example the way to calculate something, the methods and procedures.

KW: Go and have a play around and see what you can find! This whole process has been so much fun and it is great to finally see it come to life and seeing the interconnectivity of the different disciplines.