Information and library infrastructure: Resource discovery

Libraries, museums and archives across the UK hold valuable and unique resources that are essential for research and education. Discovering what resources exist and where they are is a fragmented experience, especially for researchers, teachers and students who want to discover relevant content held outside their own institutions. JISC and other bodies provide some services that support searching across the UK, but their coverage is incomplete.

One problem is that the processes libraries, museums and archives use to manage collections of content do not produce metadata (data that describes the content) that is easy to re-use, so limiting the discoverability of the content even via dominant search services such as Google. Some processes also involve duplication of effort which could be reduced by shared services or more efficient data flows. 

In 2009 JISC and Research Libraries UK convened a resource discovery taskforce which created a vision to improve resource discovery by making metadata open and reusable. The vision was endorsed by the members of the taskforce and acts as a shared commitment to addressing the issues. Similar approaches are being adopted by others outside the UK: examples include Europeana, Digital New Zealand and the efforts of individual institutions as listed in the open bibliographic data guide.

JISC is funding the Discovery programme to implement the vision. It is planned in three phases running up to December 2012.

Phase one, now complete, consisted of 3 activities to lay the groundwork for the implementation: 

  • creation of the central project to manage the Discovery programme.  
  • releasing open metadata from libraries, museums and archives. JISC funded 8 projects to develop techniques that other institutions could emulate.
  • enhancing existing services provided by Edina and Mimas.

Read a full summary of phase one

Phase two started in September 2011. It will build on the outcomes of phase one and focus on the building of exemplars and services while still retaining a focus on supporting the creation of open metadata.

Read a detailed overview of phase two

The third and final phase will begin in July 2012 and will focus on rationalising and consolidating progress so far.

Follow the progress of the Discovery programme by signing up to the newsletter, reading the discovery blog or by following the #ukdiscovery hashtag on twitter.


Start date
1 September 2011
End date
31 July 2012
Funding Programme
Digital infrastructure: Information and library infrastructure programme
Strategic Themes