Higher Education Resources ON demand — the HERON service

Publication Date01 Jan 2000
AuthorLisa McRory
SubjectInformation & knowledge management
Higher Education
Resources ON
demand - the
HERON service
by Lisa McRory, HERON System
Trainer and Sally Curry, HERON
Liaison Officer
The demand for heavily used materials has
led to Universities creating short loan
collections and course readers - both have
their problems, possibly soluble through
digitisation. But the eLib On Demand/
Electronic Reserve impact study made it clear
that the economics of rights clearance and
digitisation necessitated a cooperative
approach. Addressing this the eLib project
HERON, Higher Education Resources ON
demand, is developing software and
procedures to streamline rights clearance and
digitisation and make it easier to check if texts
have already been digitised. The operation of
the software from pack building to copyright
clearance, purchasing and fulfilment is
described. HERON will be a self supporting
commercial service by 2001.
When teaching, a course a tutor often points his or
her students to certain copyright materials. As a
result, such materials may be in high demand
during the course. Traditionally the library copes
with such a situation by placing high demand
materials for particular courses in the short loan or
reserve section of
library. However, even this
rationed access is often insufficient to meet de-
mand. Under stress short loan collections (SLCs)
perform poorly in satisfying 'traditional' students
and appear wholly to fail many 'non-traditional'
In recent years, as an alternative to the SLC, tutors
have produced 'just in time' learning resources
such as weekly handouts, sometimes supple-
mented by bound module booklets. Bound module
booklets which contained copyright materials have
become known as 'course' or 'study packs'2.
However, the CLA Licence Review in 1993,
which introduced charges for third-party copyright
materials included in course packs, stopped the
trend towards use of these packs and, in most
universities, reversed it.'2 The time, effort and
cost involved in acquiring copyright clearance
for third party copyright materials to be contained
in a pack is certainly daunting for a tutor who
already has teaching and research responsibilities.
The expense of providing other solutions to
this problem, where demand for learning resources
exceeds provision, has fallen on the library. With
limited funding at their disposal, this can present
librarians with the difficult choice of either in-
creasing the breadth of the library collection or
providing multiple copies of texts for large
Projects in the On-Demand Publishing and Elec-
tronic Reserve (OD/ER) areas of the Electronic
Libraries Programme (launched in 1994) set out to
explore this dilemma. These projects included
SCOPE (Scottish Collaborative On demand Pub-
lishing Enterprise), Acorn (Access to Course
Readings via Networks), and On-Demand Publish-
ing in the Humanities. These projects created
electronic databases of reading materials and, in
the process, had to address the copyright clearance
issue. In addition, the OD/ER projects explored
ways of making copyright cleared materials
available to students - digitising, printing and
binding them into course packs and/or delivering
them online to the user's desktop.
The OD/ER Impact study3
The OD/ER Impact study examined the implica-
tions of expanding provision, how and where
students access electronic resources, and which
options are most effective for delivering learning
The impact study found that:
currently, collections with the shortest loan
periods (e.g. 2 hours) are organised on the
assumption that users will take away the
item issued, photocopy it, and return it
almost immediately;
VINE 118 35

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