As Project Officer for LIBER, I have been working as part of the AAA Study group to help define the requirements for the implementation of a pan European Authentication and Authorisation Infrastructure or, as we call it within the library community, a ‘research passport’. We see this type of ‘research passport’ essential for the delivery of efficient and effective library services and, indeed, for the progression of data driven science, which we support.
For LIBER, and for research libraries in their role in enriching the research experience, this discussion is timely given the nature of the changes in the environment in which we operate and the changes in research behaviour. Before I outline some of the library requirements for an AAI, I would like to first give an outline of the environmental and behavioural changes which are driving library to rethink their roles and methods of service delivery.
Over the next few years the LIBER vision is built around enriching the research experience. The LIBER network is made up of approximately 400 research libraries across 40 countries. Our aim is to represent the interests of research libraries, their institutions and their researchers. Our core value are efficient information services, access to research information in any form what so ever, innovation end-users service (including teaching and learning resources) and efficient and effective management of services. Authentication and authorisation are key to achieving and maintaining these core values.
More recently, LIBER has begun to focus on developing and supporting scholarly communication and research infrastructures as well as on reshaping the research library to accommodate new research paradigms.
An examination of our European project activities clearly illustrates that we are very much engaged in developing the European Research Infrastructure. As content providers our member institutions are providing digitised and Open Access content (Europeana Libraries) or heavily enhanced (OCR, OLR, named entity recognition) digitised newspaper content (Europeana Newspapers). Here an AAI could potentially facilitate access to and exploitation of the valuable metadata by researchers within their own environments. We are also engaged in policy development e.g. Open Access policy (MEDOANET). Within Open Access an AAI had the potential to help ensure the quality and provenance of Open Access content. One of the highest areas of potential for an AAI is data sharing. LIBER is engaged in infrastructure projects which focus on data sharing (ODE) and digital preservation of the record of science (APARSEN). An AAI could enable research to access collaborative environments where they could deposit, share and access the technologies to exploit data. It could also address some of the trust issues which surround the depositing and preservation of data.
In short, libraries are concerned with giving researchers access to more quality content, more easily, in a way that enables them to do more with that content, and within a trusted environment.
Speaking of environment, there are environmental factors pushing libraries to recognise the need for a pan-European AAI:
-we now have more digitised and born digital content available in libraries
-we recognise that we have a role to play in providing support for Open Scholarly communications eg. Through the provision of repositories
-changes in research behaviour means that we need to change our method of delivery
-our decreasing budgets mean there is even more emphasis on ROI e.g, we want to see proof of researchers downloading and resusing our content, as well as uploading to our repositories. One example of the investments being made by libraries and hence the need for proof of ROI, is the push to make all of Europes cultural heritage available online by 2025. The cost of digitising this content, especially for libraries who hold a large proportion of European cultural heritage, is in the billions. Libraries need to know that the investment they make in this generates use and even resuse and innovation.
I’ve mentioned that libraries believe they have a role to play in supporting Open Access. In fact we have surveyed libraries and 80% report that their users demand support for data management in 7 key areas.
An AAI also has a role to play in these areas e.g. in Availability and AAI will allow researchers to make their data available, it can address Citability by recognising the author etc. An AAI has the potential to make data sharing easier, safer, and more beneficial for the researcher.
To return to more the more traditional activities associated with libraries i.e. providing access to publications, the end product of research, increasingly publications are linking to datasets in repositories. This makes the research process more transparent and is also useful in providing the context for available datasets. It is unintuitive for the research to have to use more than 1 credential to access these linked resources. It is also a barrier to the sharing of data, as some researchers may not have access to the publication and therefore miss out on the context for the research data.
The other factor that libraries are having to deal with is a change in information seeking behaviour and in research practices. More collaboration is occurring across disciplines and institutes. Researchers wish to share research information outside of their institute without having to worry about licence and IPR infringement. Researchers also have less time for research and a lack of standardisation in accessing resources is a barrier to their research activity.
Although research has become more complex, information seeking behaviour has become less so. The Google generation is more inclined to only use well known commercial research engines and perform shallower searches. They expect seamless access and are less likely to seek out alternative methods of access if they cannot get what they want via Google. We also need to acknowledge the fact that researchers may be moving towards using social networks to access research information.
Libraries, e.g. Goettingen which has an internationally significant special collection, are aware of the need to support global and virtual collaboration. With a strong tradition of negotiation access to licensed resources, we are also aware of the complexity of agreeing access rights to such resources via an AAI. The increase in the availability will help to navigate around this, but for the foreseeable future authentication for the provision of access to licensed content is a key requirement of an AAI.
In summary the library requirements for an AAI are:
- simplified and seamless access to information resources (predicated on facilitating access through search engines like Google, simplify licensing, more Open Access publications)
- access to the technologies that can maximise exploitation of content and facilitate collaborate and sharing
- an institutional credential but with the possibility of integrating social network/commercial accounts in the future
- help libraries to support researchers in Open Scholarly communications and research data sharing (easy self depositing in repositories, tracking of author and provenance, versioning, access to the data)
- it must engender trust (e.g. in digital preservation infrastructures and sustainability, but also re personal data protection)