Forthcoming Challenge Fund libraries

The work of the Challenge Fund has been continuing apace. 18 libraries have been added so far, and four more will be added over the coming months:

For more information, see the forthcoming libraries page at

Getting to know the Copac libraries

As part of the work we’ve been doing on the future of the Challenge Fund (watch this space!), I’ve been talking to some of the Challenge Fund libraries about their experiences with Copac, and the benefits they’ve felt from being part of the Copac community.

This has been a very welcome opportunity for me to actually have a chat to

A detail from the interior of Chetham's Library

A detail from the interior of Chetham's Library

some of the librarians. As with many people now, most of our communicating is done by email, which tends to be quite impersonal and business-focussed. Having the chance to chat to people on the phone makes for a more personal connection, and you can get a different sense of the person you’re dealing with.

Although I talked to most people by phone, we did manage a mini-Copac field-trip to Chetham’s Library, where my colleage Lisa Jeskins and I were given a tour and some fantastic coffee (both of which we enjoyed very much) followed by a very interesting discussion about a number of issues, including what kind of impact being part of Copac has had for Chetham’s library. Conversations with libraries have all started from the same list of questions, and then digressed in various directions. It has been very interesting to see the emphasis on different areas from different libraries: we’ve talked about subjects ranging from the quality of catalogue records and the importance of in-depth cataloguing; to specifics of the Copac interface; and potential future mash-ups.

With Chetham’s, we arrived at a discussion about mutual promotions/marketing. This has been a theme I have been discussing with all of the libraries, as we are reviewing our promotions strategy, and looking for new ways to promote Copac and our contributors. We have been discussing a number of possibilities, including that of having subject foci on the website – something along the lines of the Archives Hub’s Collection of the Month.

All of the libraries I’ve spoken to have expressed interest in/approval of/willingness to co-operate with this, and the staff at Chetham’s were particularly enthusiastic. They offered to photograph anything in the library we liked the look of, to give us some magnificent images to use. One of the possibilities that arose from this discussion was that of having links to digital images of items from the Copac record, and/or thumbnails of the item on the results screen, in the same manner as the Nielsen BookData cover images. This may have to wait until the new database (see this post of Ashley’s for what else the new database might hold ), but it’s a feature that we are very enthusiastic about pursuing with our contributors.

There will be more posts coming up about the conversations we’ve been having with the Copac libraries and the issues that have arisen from them. Sign up to our feed at to keep up-to-date.
If you’re a Copac library that we haven’t spoken to yet, or would like to talk to us about anything, get in touch in the comments, or email We’re always glad to hear from you.

Loading/updating to Copac: how easy do you find it?

As we have been using the same processes and documentation to handle the loading and updating of libraries for a while, we decided that it was time to ask for some feedback to ensure that we were making the process as easy as possible for the libraries involved.

We asked 9 of the most recently loaded libraries to respond to a short online survey, asking them about their experience of the load and update process, how useful they found the documentation, and whether they had any suggestions for improvement. We did have to emphasise that we were concerned only with the Copac side of the process; unfortunately we can’t do anything about how easy (or otherwise) libraries find it to extract data from their library management systems, although we do recognise this as a valid concern.

The results were very encouraging! Respondents were asked to rate how easy they found the load und update processes, and the vast majority replied that they found them either ‘easy or ‘very easy’, with only one library anticipating that they would find the update process difficult. Documentation was also considered very good, with one library saying that they found it ‘clear and easy to follow’.

It wasn’t all sunshine and flowers, however, as some libraries did comment that they hadn’t realised how long it would take to get the records loaded onto Copac, or how much time it would take them to extract their data. We realise that we need to do a better job of managing expectations here: while we do try to add catalogues as quickly as possible, it can sometimes take time to complete the process, and perhaps we aren’t clear enough about that.

General comments had the Copac staff blushing, as we were told that ‘support has always been excellent’, and ‘we found the process of having our records loaded easy at our end, and thank Copac staff for their help’. One library said that they were ‘just surprised how simple and straightforward the whole procedure turned out to be.’

Responses were kept anonymous, so we can’t tell who exactly we have to thank for all of this wonderful feedback, but we are very grateful for it all 🙂

If there are any libraries out there who would like to know more, or comment, please get in touch with us! We’d love to hear from existing members of the Copac community who would like to comment, or from libraries who would like to be a part of the community and would like to know more about the (very easy!) technical processes involved.

Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow catalogue loaded

The library of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow holds a significant collection of books, journals and pamphlets that span several centuries, from historical to modern items. As the only royal medical college for physicians, surgeons and dentists in the United Kingdom, a wide range of subjects is covered, including anatomy, surgery, medicine, botany, dentistry, and the diseases of the eye. The library has also built up, over many years, a good collection of resources relating to Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

The catalogue has been added as part of the Copac Challenge Fund.