Lisa Jeskins and Bethan Ruddock describe a free tool that enables users to search the UK's national and academic libraries
A new interface is now available for Copac, a freely-available, merged online library catalogue that allows you to easily search the UK’s national library catalogues as well as many major academic and specialist libraries at the same time.
Users include researchers and librarians from the UK and abroad, who use Copac as a resource discovery tool to find rare and specialist materials in all formats. Copac enables users to search for books, journals, electronic resources and multimedia materials and find out where they are held across the UK.
Copac offers search and export facilities, with tables of contents displayed for books and journals (where available). If you choose to log in to Copac, you can now enjoy a new range of personalised facilities, including ‘My References’, an online bibliography that you can develop over time.
‘My References’ allows you to personalise and adapt your bibliography – you can edit, tag and export records for reuse. This gives you the ability to create annotated reading lists, or export large numbers of records to reference management software. Once logged in, all your searches are recorded and date stamped, which enables you to run them again with a single-click.
Users attached to a UK higher education or further education institution can log in to Copac with their institution login. Other users can set up a personal login ID through the UK Access Management Federation.
Major developments planned
These new interfaces are the first stage in a major redevelopment of Copac. At the time of writing a hardware move is planned, providing enhanced performance. A redevelopment of the Copac database is also under way, underpinning future interface developments.
The Copac team has been asking for user feedback throughout our beta testing process. This has been invaluable to the progression of the service. When demonstrating the new interface to a business librarian at the CILIP Umbrella conference this summer, the response was, ‘Wow, that’s fantastic. Really useful’.
Copac is a Mimas service, based at the University of Manchester. Copac is funded by JISC (the UK Joint Information Systems Committee), and the catalogue is created using records supplied by Research Libraries UK (RLUK) and an increasing range of other libraries.
Copac was launched in 1996 and was the product of a JISC-funded project to make the then CURL (now RLUK) database accessible to the research community as a whole. The database began with only six research libraries, and now has more than 50 contributing libraries, including the British Library (BL), National Library of Scotland, and National Library of Wales.
Through the Copac Challenge Fund, which is a joint initiative funded by the Research Information Network (RIN), RLUK and the BL, Copac has been able to expand its remit beyond the initial RLUK member libraries, and add 16 new specialist library collections over the last two years. These new collections give Copac wider coverage and allow the exposure of rare and unique research collections to the research community. This expansion means that Copac now holds more than 32 million records, with items in the database dating from around 1200 AD to the present day. More than half of the records are for items in the English language; however, more than 400 other languages are covered, from Abkhaz (spoken in Turkey, Ukraine and Georgia) to Zuni (the language of the Zuni people, who are indigenous to New Mexico and Arizona). This is indicative of the range of resources that are exposed through Copac. The tool also provides contact and access details for all member libraries, facilitating use of these research materials.
Feedback and enhancement requests from the Copac user community are always appreciated and we use them to help direct our redevelopment process. Support and advice are available through the helpdesk.
Lisa Jeskins is responsible for promotions and outreach: library and archival services for Mimas. Bethan Ruddock is Mimas’ content development officer: library and archival services