New Copac database and revised interface

We’ve released a new Copac database and made a number of revisions to the interface. The most visible changes are:

  • An updated look which will work better with mobile devices.
  • Increased deduplication, including all pre-1800 materials.
  • Clearer indication of document format (eg. print vs electronic).
  • Options to expand merged records. You can look ‘under the bonnet’ of a merged record to see the original individual records supplied by each library, or just a subset of the original records eg. just those for printed materials.

We have currently removed the options for sorting search results. This is a temporary measure, one of a number of changes we have made whilst we assess how the new database performs now it’s in service. We will reintroduce the sort options again once we have a better sense of the overall system performance. We are also looking to move off our old hardware in the near future with one aim being to increase response times.

Changes to the database and interface have been made in response to feedback, in particular balancing concerns about duplicate records vs the desire not to lose access to the original records from each library for early printed materials. We’ve recently been working with Copac users on the interface changes and we’re continuing with interface testing and development later this year. So any feedback you have on the interface will be valuable for us to include into the ongoing development.

Note: The document format identification and deduplication are not perfect, they are both affected by the variability of the data. Deduplication of records for early printed materials has raised particular issues. We have a range of checks to try to deal with some of the record variation in both these ares, but we will be looking further at these in the future.

Missing catalogues:

Four of our contributors changed to a new library system last year, so to ensure we can continue to update their data we need a complete catalogue reload. They have had difficulties successfully exporting data so, currently, four catalogues are missing from Copac. We have been working with one of the libraries and their system supplier to help resolve problems with their data export. This has taken some time, but we should begin the load of the York catalogue shortly. If this goes well we will be aiming to load the other missing catalogues as soon as possible. The libraries affected are:

  • Imperial College London
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Sheffield
  • University of York (including NRM and York Minster)

Ongoing development

The new database and revised interface have involved major changes behind-the-scenes to provide us with a stable base for continued service expansion, as well as the potential to introduce new facilities in the future. We have some ongoing system issues and we’re working to mitigate these in the short term, whilst at the same time planning a move from our old hardware onto a new cloud platform, with a focus on response times.

Keeping in touch

You can stay in touch with Copac activity through:

You can also provide feedback on the service at any time through the Copac helpdesk: as well as by filling in our annual user survey. We really appreciate your feedback and the comments we get help guide the development of the service.

9 thoughts on “New Copac database and revised interface

  1. I think the decision to remove the option for sorting search results will seriously affect the picture of usage. I use COPAC every day, and find sorting by date of publication absolutely essential to get a full picture of the publication history of the text I’m investigating. Without that I will have to abandon the best union catalogue there is across all periods (COPAC) and use a combination of ESTC, BL, and SOLO and still get only a partial picture.

    I’m really sorry you’ve opted for a new release which lacks a major function.

    • I’m sorry this is causing you problems and I can see that it will cause difficulties for some search requirements. However, sorting search results can have a major impact on response times and it is important that we are able to get a feel for the system performance before we reinstate these facilities. We will be reviewing performance next week and gradually bringing back the sort options as we continue to work on the service.
      In an ideal world we wouldn’t do this, but we have to work within the limits of our current platform, even as we begin to plan the move to a new one. So apologies for this, but I hope it will be a short-term inconvenience.

      • I’m another person very disappointed by losing the sort option, which I use all the time. I will still be using COPAC, but it will slow down the effectiveness of my using it, especially if I’ve got a long list of ersults to look through.

  2. The catalogue search is no longer bringing up books in the Charlecote Park library that It used to. For intance try searching for Paxton or Jardine.

  3. I totally agree with Veronica Hurst. I’m using COPAC to compile a bibliographical database of some 23,000 authors and the sorting facility is essential if I want to compare donloaded COPAC data with similar data from other online catalogs, such as the Library of Congress, in order to organize them into a chronological list of works & editions for a given author. Without sorting there is no end to scrolling up and down. I shall look forward to its reinstating.
    Another thing. Since I’m not interested in individual library holdings, I find it a nuisance the never-ending lists of one identical work, as it happens in the case of electronic resources available from different libraries. Wouldn’t it be possible to offer the possibility of making your personal entry (see Melvyl catalog) by selecting the fields of interest [author(s); title of work; place & publisher; year; pages] and leave out library?
    Finally, it goes without saying that efforts should be made so that all participating libraries understand the necessity of offering whenever possible c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e data, and not simply title, place and year of publication.

    • The option of personalising the record content is an interesting idea and not something we’ve been asked for before. We are planning further interface testing development later in the year and as part of that we’ll be reviewing development requests, so we’ll include your suggestion in that ‘wish list’.

  4. There’s some bugs with the pre-generated title searches. (“On the sex of fish and the gender of scientists : collected essays in fisheries science”) allows me to click the title to run a search on the title field alone. However, as it contains a colon, the search becomes “On the sex of fish and the gender of scientistscollected essays in fisheries science” – and “scientistscollected” of course returns no results.

    Would it be possible for colons/semicolons/etc (possibly also hyphens?) to be interpreted as an additional space character by the software rather than entirely stripped out?

    • Thanks for alerting us to this. I thought we’d sorted out this bug but the correction obviously never made it into the live interface. It’s now been resolved.

  5. Dear COPAC,
    Sincerely value your resource and use it almost daily. However, the removal of the sort function has made COPAC unusable for our purposes, which most often involves looking for very early printings of materials held in UK libraries. Having to click through 25 pages to get to an early entry is deeply annoying and has returned me to using Australian National Library, Library of Congress etc. — though that doesn’t give me UK holdings. Best regards, RVM