Category Archives: Resource Discovery

Resource Discovery Groups

Resource Discovery Reference Group

The HEE Resource Discovery Team take advice from reference group.  Membership includes NHS and HEI librarians, and colleagues from NICE.

Its role is to:

  • Ensure that work stream planning and activity reflect the principles and values of Knowledge for Healthcare
  • Ensure that work stream planning and activity reflects existing and emerging end-user and library staff needs, putting in place processes to effectively capture and understand these
  • Ensure that resource discovery and delivery activity at regional and local levels aligns and integrates with national strategy
  • Identify trends and developments – for instance in publishing, procurement, technology and systems – likely to impact on/present opportunities for resource discovery and delivery
  • Identify and manage barriers and risks
  • Ensure effective communication and engagement with – and promotion of resources, systems and work stream outputs to – library staff, end-users and other stakeholders
  • Identify and exploit opportunities for partnership working

See the reference group’s terms of reference and minutes from previous meetings.

Membership of the group

Helen BinghamHEE [Chair]
Nicola AgerLKS Manager [M&E]Kaye BagshawLKS Manager [LKSS]
Richard BridgenHEE [M&E]Alan FrickerHEI LKS [LKSS]
Steve GloverLKS [North]Helene GorringHEE [LKSS]
Franco HenwoodHEE [LKSS]Celestine JohnsonNICE
Gary MeadesLKS Manager [M&E]Catherine MicklethwaiteLKS Manager [South]
Lucy Reid HEE [LKSS]Mark SalmonNICE
Jenny TollerHEE [South]Becky WilliamsHEE [North]

Authentication and the Link Resolver are managed by the National Authentication and Link Resolver Operational Management [NALROM] Group. It reports to the Knowledge for Healthcare Resource Discovery Reference Group.

Its purpose is:

See the NALROM’s terms of reference and minutes from previous meetings.

See OpenAthens and the National Link Resolver for more information.

Membership of the group

Jenny TollerHEE [Chair]
Helen BinghamHEEAndrew CraigLR [North]
Helene GorringHEEJames KenneyWolters Kluwer
Phil LeahyJISCCatherine MicklethwaiteOA [South]
Ric PaulHEIsMyriam NelmesOA/LR [LKSS]
Ann RobertsOA [North]Ian SaundersNICE
Mike SibsonOA/LR [LKSS]Carrie ThompsonNICE
Jenny TurnerOA/LR [LKSS]Garbi Unzueta Wolters Kluwer
Helen Williams OA/LR [South]Fran WilkieNICE
Liz WrightOA/LR [M&E]

The Strategic Inter-Network Collaboration Group is responsible for managing the reciprocal inter-library loan and document supply scheme (INC) for NHS libraries in England.

Its purpose is to:

  • To ensure that NHS funded content is readily discoverable by NHS libraries in order to fulfil document supply across the NHS in England as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.
  • To help ensure that customer experience of NHS library document supply is of a consistently high quality and meets/exceeds expectations.
  • To ensure that document supply considerations are included in HEE’s Knowledge for Healthcare Resource Discovery work.

See the SINC’s terms of reference and minutes from previous meetings.

See Inter-lending and Document Supply (ILDS) for more information.

Membership of the group

Jenny TollerHEE [Chair]
Richard BridgenMIDSMorag Evans SWIMS
Helene GorringLENDSTricia ReySENDS
Sharon SpinghamSENDSSue SteelePANDDA
Julie StoppaniSENDSBeverley WalshEDEN

National Discovery Service – Before Action Review Workshops

During June and July 2020, HEE’s Resource Discovery team conducted a series of 10 ‘Before Action Review’ engagement sessions with Library Managers about the new National Discovery Service. Over 70 individuals from across the country participated in the workshops. This blogpost provides a short summary of what participants told us.

First, we asked what your users’ most common frustrations are when accessing trusted information. You told us that users find there are too many routes to information, compounded by a lack of time and skills required to sift through search results to find what they want. You also reported users’ frustrations with OpenAthens, particularly the multiple sign-ins users must use, along with expectations around access that fail to be met. One manger spoke for most, saying:

“Users do not want to go to 25 places. They want something that works. They do not want to be trained how to use all this – they want to sit down and get what they need.”

We asked what a National Discovery Service would look like to you, in an ideal world. What would it need to do?

Unsurprisingly, you told us that it needs to overcome the frustrations of the current user experience. The service needs to be “seamless”, offering users a consistent experience as they move across different organisations: users “should not have to start all over again” when they move between one job or placement and the next. You want a system with the semantic search functionality of Google but not one reproducing Google’s “information hose” – one that provides trusted information, along with features such as learning from user preferences, tailoring searches to users’ interests and doing away with multiple sign-ins.

We asked what lessons we could learn from your experience of managing or participating in successful projects elsewhere. You told us that managing the supplier relationship is crucial. Suppliers should provide timely and flexible project support and technical input. They must be held to account to ensure they deliver on their specifications. You also advised those leading the project to take steps to ensure that the beneficiaries of the project feel they are being consulted and kept informed.

We asked you to imagine the failure of the National Discovery Service, to get us thinking about how to avoid such an outcome. Two themes especially came back to us, loud and clear. First, the project will fail if we don’t take account of the particularities of local IT systems. The second theme was failure to gain library staff support for the project. To do this, you told us we need to generate enthusiasm about its benefits. Above all else, you told us that we need to reassure staff that the implementation of the National Discovery Service is not about cutting library staff roles or investment in library services. We can reassure you it isn’t – it is about freeing up library staff time for customer facing work and reducing time and money spent maintaining local systems.

Finally, we asked you what we needed to do next. You outlined a range of good project and communication principles we need to adopt. We need to ensure good project management support and supplier relationship management. We need transparent communications and regular updates, not just informing but engaging, and we need to make sure local teams are fully involved.

This is just a summary of the issues you raised during the engagement sessions. We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions to address the issues you raised during the sessions in more detail and will add to this as the procurement and implementation progresses. In the meantime, we still welcome any further comments or questions about National Discovery Service you still might have. Please send them through to us on:


Twitter: #NHSNationalDiscoveryService


By Franco Henwood, Library and Knowledge Services Project Manager

National Discovery Service FAQs

Why do we need a new National Discovery Service? 

The current national resource discovery architecture, comprising HDAS and the national link resolver and knowledge base, only surfaces journal content. User discovery research tells us that healthcare staff want to be able to search in one place for all types of high quality, trusted knowledge resources. An increasing number of NHSfunded library services have been responding to this need by implementing local discovery systems, but this is increasing the money and time spent configuring and maintaining local systems – and leaves large sections of the healthcare workforce, including those working outside Trusts, unsupported.  

What are the benefits of the new service? 

  • A single national gateway for all staff in the NHS in England 
  • A platform to search for and access all high quality, trusted knowledge resources including national and local e-resources 
  • Following library management system integration, a platform that will also surface print collections 
  • An interface that connects users to services and support from libraries 
  • An intuitive search experience that meets the needs of novice and more advanced searchers including semantic searching and a range of options for limiting results 

What’s the timeline for procurement and implementation? 

The deadline for suppliers to submit bids was Friday 7 August. Five submissions were received and they are now being evaluated by a panel that includes members of the HEE Resource Discovery team, LKS representatives from different regions and colleagues from NICE and the HEE TEL team. The successful supplier will be announced in November 2020 and configuration and implementation will start in December. The plan is to have a version ready for live testing in the summer of 2021 for full roll-out in September 2021. 

How was the specification drawn up? 

The specification for the National Discovery Service was informed by two years of research and engagement during which we gathered evidence of library staff and end-user needs. We also held structured pre-procurement discussions with a range of suppliers in the discovery eco-system to test out some of our ideas and assumptions about discovery platforms themselves and how they interact with other systems. Ken Chad, a consultant with a vast experience of library management system and discovery procurement, then led an iterative process to pull this learning, together with our knowledge of the most valued features of HDAS, into a detailed specification. Click here for the core document: National Discovery Service Specification – Appendix A Requirements – Response Template (PDF). 

How will you keep us informed about this project? 

Communication and engagement are key to the success of this project. We will be presenting updates on the work through regional and network meetings as well as holding workshops for library staff through the implementation period and beyond. We will also update you through the blog and briefings as we reach milestones in the project. 

How can I get involved in the implementation? 

It’s vital that knowledge and library staff are involved in implementing the National Discovery Service so that it delivers what you and your end users need. Until we have completed the procurement, we don’t know exactly how implementation will work because it will be steered by the successful supplier but we will announce more about this as soon as we can. 

My service already has a discovery system. What will the National Discovery Service mean for me? 

The National Discovery Service aims to match the functionality of the best local systems. By making the most of interoperability with other regional and national infrastructure, you should see an enhanced level of back-office functionality with the National Discovery Service. The National Discovery Service should also provide a consistent experience for end-users, especially those moving between placements and posts. For all these reasons, we hope that you will see the benefits of moving your users onto the National Discovery Service over the course of the project. 

What databases will be searchable through the National Discovery Service? 

The National Discovery Service is designed to provide NHS staff with “a single, coherent national gateway to their trusted library and knowledge service, connecting them seamlessly to quality resources, services and support tailored to their needs”. At the heart of this will be the National Core Content collection of databases and e-resources but users will also be able to search locally procured content and additional, curated sources. A phased programme of integration with library management systems will also mean that print holdings will also be discoverable through the same interface. Basic and more advanced search functionality will mean that the National Discovery Service will meet the day-to-day search requirements for the majority of the NHS workforce. 

Is the new National Discovery Service an exercise in cost-saving?  

No. The National Discovery Service is a significant investment by HEE on behalf of the NHS in England. The primary driver is to improve the quality and consistency of end-user discovery and increase use of NHS-funded and curated knowledge resources and library services. The new service should deliver systemwide cost savings on the purchase of local discovery systemsfreeing up funding for investment in other library resources. 

Do library staff need to worry about their jobs? 

No. Library services which have implemented discovery systems report that they tend to increase use of library services, including by generating more requests for resources which are discovered but not immediately accessible. Where staff time is released by the National Discovery Service, this will be channelled into more customer facing work and extending the reach of library and knowledge services across the whole of the NHS. 

What happens if the National Discovery Service is not compatible with local IT systems? 

As part of the specification, we have asked suppliers what minimum browser compatibility will be required for a good user experience. We will be working with NHS Digital and our network of contacts through Chief Information Officers and other stakeholders to make sure the implementation is as widely supported as possible. 

Will the National Discovery Service be single-sign-on? 

The National Discovery Service will use OpenAthens authentication and link resolving to external resources will at least match the user experience on existing platforms such as Journals A-Z. We have asked the suppliers to indicate in their submissions how they will work with us to ensure the user journey is as seamless as possible and we will collaborate with colleagues at NICE and JISC to make sure this happens.