Case Study : University For The Creative Arts
The University for the Creative Arts has been a Planet eStream customer since 2009 and primarily uses the product to create a 24/7 on demand teaching and learning resource for students and lecturers. UCA staff have captured free to air television and radio broadcasts using the Planet eStream Freeview Scheduler and then archived with customisable metadata fields to the central Planet eStream database for on demand access, both on campus and remotely.
They are now also working on digitising their extensive physical collection of material to the Planet eStream database for ease of access and to ensure future preservation. Our developers are currently collaborating with UCA to include subtitle support for the off air recording - an area that UCA is passionate about - to ensure that they support their students with English as a second language and their hearing-impaired students.
We are also working closely with the UCA library team and the suppliers of their library cataloguing system, SirsiDynix, helping to integrate the data from Planet eStream into the SirsiDynix Enterprise system, to facilitate centralised access for all library material
We recently caught up with Julia Cook, Visual Resources Librarian based at the University for the Creative Arts Farnham campus for a detailed overview of the Planet eStream implementation at UCA…
What is the role of your department within the UCA?
We are primarily responsible for the acquisition and organisation of the moving image collections across the five sites at UCA. Requests come through to us from our Faculty Librarians, and are closely mapped to course requirements. We are covered by the ERA+ Licence to make off-air recordings. We also buy in alternative media, which comprises of largely DVD orders, but we do also order in computer games, Blu-rays, software training CDs – all to meet the breadth of format requirements, requested by academic staff and students.
Can you provide a brief background on how and when the original concept for the need for a digital media streaming, archiving & off-air recording solution arose?
Prior to becoming the University for the Creative Arts, we were separate institutions (The Surrey Institute of Art & Design and the Kent Institute of Art & Design). The merger took place in 2005, and immediately raised the issue of how our disparate collections could be effectively harmonised and how they could be made more easily accessible to all our academic staff and students. Therefore our aim was for the off-air collection to be administered by a central team and this would result in a distinct collection. I attended the BUFVC's Learning on Screen Conference - Copyright Exceptions Post Gowers and Taking Down Television – Learning on Screen at the British Library in April 2007 and saw Andrew Milburn presenting Planet eStream. This immediately led me to consider the space-saving advantages of the approach, as an alternative to recording onto DVD. I was also aware that 24/7 online access, within the UK, would eliminate the need for multiple, damaged and/or lost physical copies.
The potential time-saving efficiencies of on-line provision were also significant as from 2009, following a departmental restructure; the Central Services Visual Resources team had begun to cater for the needs of all 5 sites. With each site requesting duplicate DVD copies of the same off-air recording, it became of vital importance that we implement the Planet eStream system as swiftly as possible, in order to alleviate demand on our staffing and physical resources. It also became clear that embarking on a digital off-air recording transfer project of our distinct retrospective collections from the five sites would;
- Eradicate cross-campus loan issues
- Revitalise the relevant material that existed on our VHS off-air recordings, but as VHS was now being perceived as a defunct format by our users, the resources were no longer being used
- Enable us to standardize our entire off-air collections and make them accessible through the immediacy of on-line delivery, which would match our user expectations.
Can you explain how Planet eStream is used to support both students and staff within the UCA?
I understand a number of tutors screen particular recordings within teaching sessions, here at UCA, and both they and our Faculty Librarians make recommendations for home study viewing. Our Faculty Librarians also play clips from recordings within their training sessions with the students.
Recommendations of specific recordings to support particular Course units are placed on our virtual learning environment by some Faculty Librarians.
Lucy Panesar, Further Education Contextual Studies Co-ordinator and Study Advisor has also noticed an increase in the number of documentary references within bibliographies since the launch of Planet eStream. This is clear evidence that students are using the system to support their studies.
Lucy Hannaford, Faculty Librarian: Fine Arts (Further Education – Kent) said that, "UCA has quite a high incidence of Dyslexia, so the facility for students to watch programmes rather than feel pressured to have to read extensively is really advantageous too".
Members of our library customer services team refer to Planet eStream to assist with resolving student enquiries. We have requests to develop the subject categories area, where recordings are grouped together under related course headings, such as 'Photography'. It will obviously improve accessibility for students if recordings relating to their specific course areas, are held within one place.
Our Data Quality Manager & Cataloguer has recently enhanced our approach to metadata and we use standardized and recognised Library of Congress Subject Headings and Genre Form Terms to improve accessibility for the users. So, for example, a student looking for 'Animated films', will be able to add that specific query into the search box and retrieve a list of off-air recordings of animated films to support their studies. If they wish to narrow their search down further to technique level, then they might decide to search for 'Cut-out animation films'. This replicates the approach taken to the use of subject headings and genre terms within our main Library catalogue.
The latest additions to Planet eStream are relayed to students via the social networks, with a view to ensuring they are fully briefed regarding both the most relevant and recently added items.
What benefits have you experienced since implementation in 2009?
We now have over 1400 off-air recordings digitally available. Of this figure 351 off-air recordings have been transferred from VHS / DVD format. Our students now have access to these recordings via Planet eStream whereas previously the programmes on VHS tapes could not be viewed due to the decline of VHS players. With this in mind the Digitisation Unit based in the library are currently transferring our special collection of off-air animations again from VHS format onto Planet eStream. The Visual Resources team have also implemented a procedure for Faculty Librarians to request any crucial programmes existing on VHS /DVD to be speedily transferred onto Planet eStream.
The 7 day buffer feature is great for enabling us to help support hectic student and academic staff lifestyles, whereby they realise they've missed the broadcast of a programme that perfectly matches their assignment or course criteria.
Technology is continually developing and the recent introduction of the mobile app for Planet eStream means our students benefit from an easier and more convenient way to access learning materials.
How has the integration of Planet eStream into the UCA evolved since 2009 and how have the Planet eStream developers been able to assist you during this time?
Planet PC has always been very approachable and quick to respond whenever we've been experiencing any system problems. On the rare occasion when we've encountered a situation where a programme has not recorded, Planet PC has quickly resolved the matter for us.
"Planet PC worked closely with our Visual Resources Team to evolve a simple intuitive service to meet the needs of UCA. It has been a pleasure to work with such an accommodating company and we are excited about developing the subtitle facility."
Lisa Moore - Central Services Team, University Library
"Collaborating with the Visual Resources Team at UCA has helped our software developers to enhance Planet eStream in ways that deliver benefits both to UCA and to our other customers. Partnerships such as these are very important to us and provide us with valuable feedback to ensure that Planet eStream constantly evolves to meet customers' real world requirements."
John Jackson - Planet eStream Software Development Team
Can you provide us with a brief overview of what SirsiDynix Enterprises is, for the benefit of our readers?
SirsiDynix Enterprise is a Search and Discovery web interface. Unlike traditional library catalogues, it not only searches the library's book holdings but can also be set up to search electronic collections, internet sites and the catalogues of other libraries.
Metadata from systems such as Planet eStream, archive systems, online repositories, etc., can be imported into Enterprise so that this data can also be searched in one hit together with other library material. When a user finds a record they are interested in, they are taken via a hypertext link back to the original system, e.g. Planet eStream, to view the item.
Please explain how and why the need for integration between Planet eStream and SirsiDynix came about?
In addition to the catalogue, libraries offer a wide range of online resources to users and students can get confused about which system to use for different types of material. They don't like having to do the same search on several different platforms so we wanted to enable our users to be able to find material in Planet eStream.
Another issue is that we have approximately 45,000 hours of off-air recording material on DVD and VHS tape, which is indexed on the library catalogue. It will take many years to get this material onto Planet eStream, which means that if students only search Planet eStream when they want broadcast material they will miss what we still hold on physical media. We therefore need a way to enable cross-searching of the catalogue holdings and Planet eStream holdings.
What benefits do you envisage once this integration is complete?
Our users will be able to do a single search to find all our moving image material, whether it is on Planet eStream, in commercial DVDs or in our archive of off-air broadcast material which is still on physical media.
What features of Planet eStream have you found most useful for your applications?
The ability to customise the fields. We knew when we implemented Planet eStream that we wanted to integrate the search with the catalogue search, so as far as possible we created fields that had an equivalent MARC field. MARC is the standard records format used in library catalogues.
Pre-populated fields – This feature proved invaluable for us in enabling us to clearly differentiate between the radio recordings and the video recordings. Visual Resources Library Assistant, Henry Kelly created a dropdown menu with the options of 'video recording' and 'sound recording'. Planet PC was then able to set the retrospective recordings to the 'video recording' setting. Henry then manually located all the radio recordings and set them to sound recording. From that point, we were then able to set to whichever was the most appropriate setting, as necessary, each time we added a new recording.
Please comment on the other recent proactive developments that we have embarked on for you, i.e. subtitle implementation, and how this will assist you?
The introduction of the feature which enables recording with subtitles which can subsequently be both toggled on and off will be of assistance to not only profoundly deaf students, but to students with partial hearing, and moderate or severe deafness. Automatically recording with subtitles is a proactive and inclusive way of ensuring all students are included, rather than requiring them to raise their concerns with those who are responsible for supporting them and causing them to feel excluded.
This facility will also be of enormous benefit for students whose first language is not English. They will serve as an excellent aid to accessing audio-visual materials both during taught time and self-study. Subtitling facilities would also offer the potential for increasing variety in the English for Academic Purposes teaching activities.