Aug 282014

We announced back in November 2012 that we would be developing a new SUNCAT interface and have posted a number of items about the development along the way. Now, following the positive feedback on the new interface from the last survey, we would like to retire the original SUNCAT interface at the end of next month on Friday 26th September.

The original interface was went live as a pilot service in early 2005, and proved to be popular for it’s simplicity and ease of use, but we hope you agree that the new interface represents a significant improvement and modernisation of the SUNCAT service.

We would be grateful if you could move to using the new interface, if you haven’t already, as soon as possible and also if you could update any bookmarks accordingly. The address for the homepage of the new service remains as

One feature which will no longer be available is the Google search gadget ( We understand that Google will not support this in the long term so we have not updated this to work with the new interface. If, however, there is sufficient interest we would be happy to investigate providing an alternative as a future development.

Please also contact us as soon as possible via the EDINA Helpdesk at if you have any queries or concerns about this or the switch off of the original interface in general.

 August 28, 2014  Posted by at 3:23 pm Developments, News Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 112014

We’ve just published the report from the survey we conducted on the new look SUNCAT. The survey ran from the end of May to the end of June 2014.

The results of the survey were largely very positive but it did highlight a few areas where we can focus on making improvements.

The vast majority of respondents, 88%, found SUNCAT “Quite Easy” or “Very Easy” to use. Five percent reported that they found SUNCAT “Very Difficult” to use and on further investigation this was revealed to be due to a compatibility problem with older versions of Internet Explorer. However, as soon as we noticed these responses we investigated and we believe that these issues are now resolved, see the blog post: Problems using the new service on the IE8 browser

Further, 91% of respondents indicated that they found the new service better than the original one.

The most popular features on the new SUNCAT with the highest proportion of respondents reporting that they were either “Very useful” or “Quite useful” were:

  • Links to library’s local catalogues in the holdings display (91%)
  • Icons differentiating print and online holdings in the holdings display (90%)
  • Electronic only/non-electronic only format limit on the advanced search page (86%)
  • More search options on the advanced search page (86%)
  • Library information pages (linked to from library name in the holdings display) (82%)
Feature Popularity (Percentage of Respondents Reporting the Feature as Useful or Very Useful)
Links to library’s local catalogues in the holdings display 91
Icons differentiating print and online holdings in the holdings display 90
Electronic only/non-electronic only format limit on the advanced search page 86
More search options on the advanced search page 86
Library information pages (linked to from library name in the holdings display) 82
Results automatically ranked by relevance 77
Post-search filters on left-hand side of the results screen 75
More flexible and granular library and location limits on the basic search page 68
Option to choose how many results to view per page 67
Expanded table of contents (available on more titles) 63
Auto-suggestions on entering search terms 54
Map of all Contributing library locations on the basic search page 26
Newsfeed from the SUNCAT Blog on the basic search page 17


Respondents were also asked to comment on their favourite features. The most popular features were the format limiting, format filtering and format icons.

“I really like being able to tell at a glance whether a library has print or online holdings for a particular journal.”

“… is especially useful as it alerts to licensing issues etc. and therefore prevents requests that will fail and saves time in getting information to the library user.”

Second to these were the additional library information pages and the links to local catalogues:

“The improved links through to library information and the links to the local library catalogue is a big improvement.”

“The new library information pages are very helpful as I work in Interlibrary loans and this feature gives me important information very quickly without having to try and locate it on the library’s own website or in the BL’s directory of library codes.”

Followed by the clear design, ease of use and general usefulness of the new service:

“Cleaner, easier to read and navigate”

“much nicer interface – much more obvious in terms of how to use it”

We also used the survey to find out what improvements our users would like to see in SUNCAT so that we can use this information to plan and prioritise our future developments. The following table summarises the suggestions and EDINA’s responses.

Suggested Improvement EDINA Response
Ensure the new service is compatible with older browsers We have investigated this and believe that the necessary changes have now been implemented
Add more libraries We will continue to expand the coverage of the service and are currently in the process of adding new libraries
Improve deduplication We are gathering information about suggested matches on the service and will use this information to inform the development of an improved matching algorithm which should improve deduplication in the long term.
Improve holdings information Unfortunately, we have no control over this as we rely on the holdings information supplied to us by our Contributing Libraries
A bulk upload facility of ISSNs to enable scarcity checks We are in the process of developing a holdings comparison service which should assist with scarcity checking
UKRR libraries limit We are in the process of developing tailored or customised views onto SUNCAT, one of which could be for the UKRR.
Improve relevance ranking We will investigate possible improvements in this area.
Reinstate subject heading browsing This will be made available in an upcoming release
Provide better options for printing holdings dataPrinting results. It would be helpful if you could print a short summary with selected location details without the need to print irrelevant web-page data too. We will investigate possible improvements in this area.
Provide information about policies on ILL provision and licensing agreements We will investigate the possibility of pulling this information from sources such as KB+, while bearing in mind that recent changes to UK Copyright Law might make licensing information less relevant for ILL purposes.
Move the British Library code to appear beside the library name This information is displayed on the Library Information page which can be accessed by clicking on the Library name in the holdings display. We feel that adding this information directly to the holdings display could complicate and confuse the display for general users, but we will keep this request under consideration.
Split up electronic and print holdings or show more clearly We are working to improve how the format filtering works and will consider adding the format limit to the basic search page.


The results of the survey are very positive for the new SUNCAT service and indicate it now provides an overall improved platform from which to continue to develop the service further.

Unfortunately there were some initial problems with compatibility with older browsers, which the survey very usefully highlighted. Otherwise the responses to the new features are encouraging, with the vast majority of respondents finding the new service easy to use and an improvement on the original service.

Key features appear as those related to identifying, distinguishing between, limiting to or filtering out particular journal formats. This reflects a high number of users wanting to focus on non-electronic formats due to licence restrictions on providing copies from electronic formats. However, the additional information provided on the library pages and the links to local catalogues also proved popular.

We will give further consideration to each of the suggested improvements and where possible investigate developing these as part of future releases. In some cases the developments are already in the pipeline and the survey provides an additional confirmation of their potential usefulness.

SUNCAT is the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK. Visit the service at
 August 11, 2014  Posted by at 3:03 pm Developments, News Tagged with: , , , ,  No Responses »
Jul 022014

I thoroughly enjoyed the recent Interlend 2014 conference at the Carlton Highland Hotel in Edinburgh. Interlend is the annual conference for the Forum for Interlending and Information Delivery (FIL), which is an organisation for those involved in interlending and document supply, enabling them to exchange ideas and views and also to raise the profile of this area of work nationally and internationally.

This year’s conference took place on EDINA’s home turf in Edinburgh and featured an excellent range of talks focusing on marketing interlending services, developments to systems supporting interlending and case studies of evolving interlending services in practice. My highlights would have to include:

Anthony Brewerton, Head of Academic Services at the University of Warwick, who kicked off the conference with a lively and engaging tour of the key concepts to be considered when marketing and branding a library service. This included the ladder of loyalty – developing relationships with your customers, until they become advocates of, then champions of and finally partners in developing your service.

Ann Lees and Stephen Winch from NHS Education for Scotland Knowledge Services Group (NES KSG) recounted the trials of dealing with a “no copying” policy across NHS Scotland (NHSS), following the Scottish Government’s decision several years ago not to renew the then existing CLA licence. To compensate, a service was set up to provide copyright fee paid copies of material via the British Library. In order to streamline this process NES KSG utilised the British Library’s API to enable NHSS users to make requests via the Knowledge Network search platform. Users can run a search on the Knowledge Network and if no full text is available to them a link to login to the new Document Delivery service is displayed. The user is asked to fill in details about the reason for the request, preferred delivery option and then the order is placed via the British Library DDS API. NHSS librarians also receive email copies of the requests and go into the system to approve them. The system went live earlier this year and usage is gradually taking off. However, since June this year a revised CLA licence has been signed so restricted copying is now also available within NHSS.

I feared that a presentation on copyright could be rather dry but Emily Stannard, the Copyright & Compliance Officer from the University of Reading gave an engaging and informative update on the current status of key copyright developments in the UK, particularly the copyright exceptions which came into force at the start of June 2014. These include:

Supplying single copies of published works to (non-profit) libraries and to library users. No contract or individual licence can override this exception, which could have implications for those libraries looking to fulfil ILL requests via copies of articles from e-journals. Potentially libraries would not need to check individual licences before supplying copies. Emily advised us to keep our eyes peeled for more information on this topic.

Other exceptions include:

  • Preservation copying covers all works
  • No requirement for paper copyright declarations, an online declaration with checkbox or digital signature is now sufficient
  • Libraries can copy all types of work for persons doing non-commercial research/private study
  • Text and data mining for non-commercial purposes
  • Accessible copies for disabled people
  • Making works available on dedicated terminals (providing there is no contract saying you can’t)

Marjory Lobban’s (Document Delivery Supervisor at the University of Edinburgh) review of interlending at the University of Edinburgh was set against the backdrop of the changing environment the library is operating within the University, with more online courses, more distance learners, more students overall and reduced library sites.

Following a downward trend in ILL requests from the late 1990s to early 2000s with the emergence of e-journals, figures started to level out again when the University started using WorldShare in 2007 and started to increase in 2010 when the University started using Iliad leading to more exposure to overseas libraries accompanied by a move to online requesting, which streamlines the process for users and ILL staff. An increasing number of supplies to the University are coming from overseas libraries so ILL requests are now often sent straight overseas rather than to the British Library or other UK libraries. Lending to overseas is also increasing.

Future plans include looking at pay per view options where full text isn’t immediately available to the user. Purchasing items if cheaper than the interlending option and rebranding the ILL service.

I also gave a presentation focusing on the new SUNCAT service, including:

  • Background and context to the recent redevelopment
  • Highlighting the key features which can be found on the new service
  • Describing how SUNCAT can assist end users, library staff and in particular ILL staff
  • A live demo of the new service
  • An update on future plans for the service

Attending Interlend 2014 not only let me introduce the new SUNCAT interface to one of our valued user groups, but also helped to give me more information on what is happening and some key priorities in the world of interlending, all very helpful as we consider how to continue to develop the SUNCAT service.

The presentations for all the sessions will soon be available on the FIL website.

Jun 182014

The survey on the new look SUNCAT service is available until Friday 27th June. Please do take a few minutes to give us your feedback. All comments are very welcome and will provide us with vital information on any areas which require further development. Thank you to all who have responded so far.

 June 18, 2014  Posted by at 9:44 am Developments, News Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
May 272014

Following on from the launch of the new look SUNCAT as the primary service in March, and before finally switching off the old service , we would like to gather your feedback via a short survey

Your input is very valuable to us as it is integral to the planning of our future developments and priorities. You can find summary reports of previous user satisfaction surveys and the resulting planned actions, many of which have already been implemented, on the EDINA website.

We would be really grateful for your time and comments and would also encourage you to circulate the survey details as widely as possible.

The survey will be available until Friday 27th June 2014.

You can also continue to email any comments to or to use the “Contact” link at the bottom of all the SUNCAT pages.

Thank you in advance!

 May 27, 2014  Posted by at 9:07 am Developments, News Tagged with: , , ,  No Responses »
Apr 252014

Members of the SUNCAT Bibliographic Team (Paula, Celia and Natasha), along with the EDINA Director, Peter Burnhill, and Adam Rusbridge, UK LOCKSS Alliance Coordinator at EDINA, attended the UKSG 37th Annual Conference, held in Harrogate from 14th-16th April.  The team appreciated the opportunity to talk to people and to demo our new interface at the EDINA exhibition stand (and hand out Easter-themed chocolate!).  In addition, we had the pleasure of sharing the stand with Tiffany Perier of the ISSN International Centre, Paris. SUNCAT has a connection with the ISSN Centre, as the ISSN Register makes up a proportion of the records in the SUNCAT database, and is available for use by SUNCAT Contributing Libraries.

Members of the SUNCAT Bibliographic Team and Tiffany Perier from the ISSN International Centre at the EDINA exhibition stand, UKSG 2014

Members of the SUNCAT Bibliographic Team and Tiffany Perier from the ISSN International Centre at the EDINA exhibition stand, UKSG 2014.

Peter Burnhill, Director of EDINA, gave a lightning talk on The Keepers Registry. This service is also providing data to the ISSN ROAD (Directory of Open Access Scholarly Resources) service. A presentation on this was given by François-Xavier Pelegrin (Head of the Bibliographic Data Section, ISSN International Centre).

We all really enjoyed the conference presentations and found them interesting and stimulating. Overall, UKSG once again proved to be an exciting and useful conference to attend. The UKSG plenary sessions and lightning talks can be found on YouTube and breakout sessions can be found on SlideShare.  Also, both Paula and Celia have written up some of the talks and breakout sessions for the UKSG Blog.

 April 25, 2014  Posted by at 11:53 am News Tagged with:  No Responses »
Apr 082014

Members of the SUNCAT Bibliographic Team, along with EDINA colleagues, will be attending the 37th Annual UKSG Conference to be held in Harrogate next week, from Monday 14th to Wednesday 16th April.

UKSG “exists to connect the knowledge community and encourage the exchange of ideas on scholarly communication. It is the only organisation spanning the wide range of interests and activities across the scholarly information community of librarians, publishers, intermediaries and technology vendors”.

We are very much looking forward to attending talks on a wide variety of themes, with plenary sessions entitled ‘Interesting Times’, ‘Research Assessment’, Trust, Impact and Workflows’, ‘Discovery’, and ‘Open and Close’, along with lightening talks and breakout sessions. It looks like it will be a very interesting and thought-provoking conference.

Both Paula Cuccurullo and Celia Jenkins will also be contributing to the UKSG blog. You can also follow SUNCAT at the conference on Twitter @suncatteam, as well as follow the event in general @uksg, with the conference hashtag being #UKSGlive.

SUNCAT will be on the EDINA stand (number 10) at the conference exhibition, covering all breaks. Please come along and see us if you’re attending. We will be showing the new-look SUNCAT, answering any questions you may have about SUNCAT, as well as telling you about other EDINA services. We look forward to seeing you there!

 April 8, 2014  Posted by at 1:22 pm News Tagged with:  No Responses »
Mar 282014

Wednesday 26th March 2014 was the last day at EDINA for the SUNCAT Service Manager, Fred Guy, before he took up his well-deserved retirement.

Fred started in EDINA in 2005, this being the latest accolade in an illustrious career. While here he has successfully steered SUNCAT from being a project to a fully-fledged service. More recently, he has been instrumental in the managing of the new SUNCAT interface redevelopment, which is now the default view on the Serials Union Catalogue.  SUNCAT has benefited from Fred’s experience in libraries such as Queen’s University, Belfast, the University of Birmingham, the College of Librarianship Wales which merged with Aberystwyth University in 1989 and the National Library of Scotland, as has the Keepers Registry, another EDINA service of which he was Project Manager.

Fred Guy's Retirement photo

Fred Guy with the SUNCAT Team and EDINA collegues on his last day as SUNCAT Service Manager. Edinburgh, 26th March 2014.

The SUNCAT team and the rest of his colleagues in EDINA wish him well  for the future, which is already building up to be busy – with volunteering at the Commonwealth Games in the Summer, and his annual helping out at the Rugby Sevens, as well as spending more time with his grandson.  Here’s raising a (virtual) glass to Fred, and wishing him a very happy retirement and best wishes for a long and prosperous future.

 March 28, 2014  Posted by at 10:23 am News Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Mar 252014

We are now back in the office after our EDINA Serials Forums last week in London and Edinburgh and would like to send a large thank you to all the attendees. We were very happy to see the level of interest and engagement in our services, particularly the new look SUNCAT! We were particularly delighted to receive the positive feedback about the new interface and the latest planned development of a journals holding comparison service.

After an initial chat over coffee and biscuits both EDINA’s User Support Deputy Manager, Andrew, kicked off the afternoon sessions started with an overview of EDINA’s involvement in the world of journal discovery, access and preservation and how it is positioned within JISC’s portfolio of services.


Fred Guy, SUNCAT Service Manager, and Zena Mulligan, SUNCAT Project Officer, then focussed in attention on SUNCAT, starting with a brief background to SUNCAT, moving onto the context for the current development, the key enhancements of the new look service, a live demonstration and rounding off with how SUNCAT can support end-users and library professionals, illustrated with a number of use cases.


The final use case focussed on the UK Research Reserve and led into an informative overview from the UKRR Manager, Daryl Yang, describing its core objectives, members, figures on material disposed of and retained, savings made and future plans as well as how SUNCAT supports them with the vital scarcity checking element of their decision making process.

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It was then time for afternoon tea and cake – which for our Edinburgh session, was provided by EDINA’s resident baker (and SUNCAT’s Metadata Expert), Tasha, who made everyone very happy with a selection of truly delicious cupcakes. The break also provided an opportunity for networking and to catch up with our current contributors and to speak to those attendees interested in contributing to SUNCAT or in finding out more about the holdings comparison development.


After the break, Fred provided an introduction to the need for archiving programmes for ejournals mentioning the work of the Keepers Registry and our analysis that has found that over two thirds of ejournals accessed in 2012 are not currently being archived by any organisation.

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Adam Rusbridge, UK LOCKSS Alliance Coordinator, then gave a walk-through of the forthcoming Title List Comparison feature of the Keepers Registry, which will assist with print rationalisation and subscription management workflows.  This led onto a broader discussion of EDINA services that can assist with continuing access assurances.  The UK LOCKSS Alliance helps libraries to build local collections of content and provide readers with continuing access by integrating the collection with link resolver systems.  Adam then gave an overview of SafeNet, a project to establish a shared service that offers strong continuing access assurances in conjunction with an authoritative entitlement registry to manage access permissions.


Finally, after a final round of Q&A we wound up the afternoon by asking if anyone would be interested in attending a similar event in the future and having received a very definite yes, please look out for something similar (but different) in 2015!

Thanks again from the Forum presenters, Andrew Bevan (EDINA User Support), Fred Guy (Keepers Registry & SUNCAT), Zena Mulligan (SUNCAT), Adam Rusbridge (Keepers Registry, UK LOCKSS Alliance) and Daryl Yang (UKRR). Any questions about the Forum or the services highlighted please contact us via the EDINA helpdesk at

Mar 132014

The new interface for SUNCAT became publicly available in October 2013.  Since then we have been running it in parallel with the Aleph interface (termed Original SUNCAT) to allow users to gain familiarity with the new interface and make it easy to switch between the two versions.   We feel now that users have gained familiarity with the new interface and we are ready to make it the primary means of accessing the SUNCAT database.  Accordingly, from Friday 14th March , the Landing page, which at present currently provides the main way of accessing both services will no longer be available in its present form.  Please note that it may take a day or so for the changes to take place throughout the World Wide Web.  On linking to the page ( users will be taken directly to the new interface.  All the information tabs available on the Landing page (About; For Librarians; Help & Support; News and Events) are available on the new interface.  The button on the new interface, Original SUNCAT, providing access to the Aleph interface, will remain for a limited period.

We have received much informal positive feedback on the new interface but are planning to carry out a survey of the new interface in early April.   Once we have had time to analyse the returns and act on any critical points raised, we intend to remove Original SUNCAT from public availability and provide all access to the SUNCAT database entirely through the new interface.  We anticipate moving to exclusive access via the new interface at the beginning of June 2014.

 March 13, 2014  Posted by at 2:59 pm News Tagged with: ,  No Responses »