Expanding Copac

It’s exciting times for Copac – we’re working on improving the Copac user experience and we’ve been looking at other aspects of the development of Copac. A vital aspect of this development is expanding and enhancing Copac’s coverage, through the addition of new libraries and collections.

Copac’s original remit was to be the merged union catalogue of the holdings of the RLUK (then CURL) libraries. This was expanded in 2006 to include libraries added through the Copac Challenge Fund (http://www.rluk.ac.uk/node/59), which aimed to ‘facilitat[e] the discovery of the widest possible range of research materials’. The specific Challenge Fund activity has ended, but we are still committed to helping to expose rare and under-used materials, and are accepting informal applications from libraries wishing to be included in Copac. We ask applicants for some information about their collections, and ensure that they meet some basic technical criteria.

Our main focus is on supporting UK education and research, and we prioritise collections with large amounts of rare, scarce, and under-exposed material. We accept applications from all types of library, not just academic and research, and we will take specific collections from a library – eg while a public library’s lending collections may not fit in with Copac’s remit, they may have special collections that do.

Our Steering Committee is meeting in September, and they’ll be discussing strategies and priorities to ensure that Copac’s growth remains mission-focussed and sustainable. Much as we as a team would be delighted to add every library, that simply isn’t feasible in the short-term for a variety of reasons. Our steering committee will help us to prioritise our inclusions over the next two years. Longer-term, we’re going to develop a new strategy for Copac, and our future approach to content development will be high on the agenda.

Until then, we’re looking at ‘quick wins’ for helping users access more content held across the UK. For instance, the ‘your local library’ tool. We’ve been working with academic libraries whose collections are not on Copac to cross-search their collections through z39.50. When a user of the library signs in to Copac, they get the opportunity to search their institution’s records alongside Copac.

If you’re interested in learning more, please email copac@manchester.ac.uk. We’d be pleased to hear from you.

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