The Final HERON User Group
It is the end of an era: on Wednesday 14 December 2016, the last HERON User Group meeting was held at King’s College in London with over 50 HE librarians and copyright officers attending including some special guests.
The HUG meetings have meant a lot to this niche group of librarians working in that specialist space where copyright and content overlap in the form of digitisation and coursepack creation.
The day was about looking back to where HERON and PackTracker started but also looking forward to the future of the group and the technology that will support its work.
We had some great presentations from colleagues at CLA about the new Digital Content Store (DCS)— which for most will be the system they have adopted with the retirement of PackTracker. We heard about the Overseas Campus Based Students pilot which is running for its third and final year, the Second Extract Permissions Service and how it is being used one year into the new service. Finally, we gave an update on how CLA with its co-parent company the Publisher’s Licensing Society (PLS) are working to improve the repertoire for CLA’s licensees through a number of initiatives including more engagement with American publishers.
The afternoon session was kicked off by Jo Cox, Key Customer Relationship Manager from the British Library, who spoke about the success of the first year of the new Enhanced Higher Education Supply Service (EHESS) and how the British Library are continuing to listen to the feedback of customers to improve the service for the HE community. A key example of this is how they worked on addressing feedback about the size of some of the files which were being delivered.
Next up was Ruth MacMullen the Copyright Officer at York St. John University and newest member of the UUK/GuildHE Copyright Working Group. Ruth is well versed and passionate about the requirements of accessible copies which visually impaired students rely on for success on their chosen courses. She took the group on a tour of the current environment which included the changes to government funding of students with visual impairments, to the legal exceptions that help to ensure that visually impaired people gain the access they need to content for teaching and learning. Finally she explained how all this manifests itself in best practice for providers of content and higher education institutions.
Wrapping up the presentations were Dr Jane Secker of LSE and the UUK/GuildHE Copyright Working Group and Chris Morrison of the University of Kent and also of the UUK/GuildHE Copyright Working Group, talking about their recent paper ‘Lecture Recording in Higher Education: Risky Business or Evolving Open Practice’. This is still a grey area for most people and Jane and Chris were trying to understand though their research what the common practices were and what advice was being provided by universities to staff. Ultimately, they concluded that there was not any definitive conclusion they could draw and therefore being good researchers will be looking into this further.
The day then turned to paying tribute to the man who started it all: George Pitcher. HERON and PackTracker were the lifework of George who was there from the start and saw HERON and PackTracker through its journey over the years. In memory of George and his work, Ingenta have set up a memorial award in his name. Byron Russell, Head of Ingenta connect was there to present the first George Pitcher Memorial Award which was awarded to Megan Benson and Esther McLaughlin from the University of Central Lancashire for their work in making accessible copies more easily and widely available to students with visual impairment.
The day concluded with Helen Bartlett, now a freelance permissions consultant but part of the HERON and PackTracker projects since their inception and eventual move to Ingenta, reminiscing about working with George over the years, his devotion to his work and his family, his love of planes and Sunderland Football Club.
The HERON User Group may have ended but the legacy will endure.