Past projects

Student making notes while working from a laptop

AL Training Cascade

The Library ran a pilot to train Associate Lecturers (AL's) to give library inductions to their colleagues and students.


  • Opportunity to build a close relationship with AL trainers, giving the Library a view into the AL world
  • ALs are more likely to respond honestly to fellow ALs, so we could get valuable feedback on Library services
  • AL trainers share the AL discourse – so are less likely to use Library jargon and more likely to get the message across clearly to their colleagues
  • AL trainers could act as a quality control measure for library induction materials.


  • 58 ALs trained
  • 48 Students trained
  • 40% of ALs rated the trainers as excellent
  • 43% of ALs rated the trainers as good
  • 84% of ALs would definitely recommend these sessions to colleagues
  • 97% of students said that the topics covered were of use

In addition, the training had a high impact on ALs knowledge of OU systems and procedures, and confidence in supporting students AL trainers provide added value in terms of “local knowledge”, a shared discourse, contributing to the development of the training materials, and peer support. ALs who participated recommended the model used as an example of good practice in developing training programmes.

AVA (Access to Video Assets)

The project prototyped new types of search and digital preservation services associated with access and discovery of the organisation's video archives.

Project duration: November 2008 - July 2011

CORE (Connecting Repositories)Core logo

This project was led by expert researchers in The Open University Knowledge Media Institute with contributions being made from Library Services.
The CORE Project aims to facilitate the access and navigation across relevant scientific papers stored in Open Access repositories. The project has made available a new open metadata repository in the linked data format describing the semantic relatedness between resources stored across a selection of UK repositories including The Open University's Open Research Online (ORO).
Project duration: 01/02/2011 - 31/07/2011
Lead Unit: KMi
Project website:


This project’s aim was to investigate the potential of social networking tools to facilitate collaborative practice-based learning.

Digital Content and Systems

The Library Data project investigated library data to undertake an in-depth analysis of library data sources to attempt to understand correlations between use of library resources and student achievement and retention.


An EADTU (European Association of Distance Teaching Universities) project on "virtual mobility", offering an international experience for non-mobile students. The Open University Library took part in creating the online Library and Information Support portal.

LUCERO (Linking University Content for Education and Research Online)

This project was led by expert researchers in The Open University Knowledge Media Institute with contributions being made from Open University Arts Faculty, Communications Unit, Estates and Library Services staff.
Working with groups of learners, researchers and practitioners based at The Open University, LUCERO scoped, prototyped, piloted and evaluated reusable, cost-effective solutions relying on the linked data principles and technologies for exposing and connecting educational and research content.
Project duration: 1/7/2010 - 31/05/2011
Lead Unit: KMi
Project website:

MACON (Mobilising Academic Content Online)

This project investigated the challenges involved in delivering quality academic content to mobile devices in a seamless and user-friendly manner. The project worked with EBSCO, a major content and systems provider in order to prototype a mobile friendly resource discovery interface to discover and expose quality academic content from both third party & local collections.  MACON was part of the JISC Mobile Infrastructure for Libraries programme.

The MACON project blog has more detailed information about the project.  MACON was responsible for creating a  new mobile search interface to improve the search experience for users of mobile devices.  This new mobile search includes useful features such as lists of recent search terms and recently viewed articles, as well as quick links to the full text of articles from EBSCO and/or the publisher website.

The project blog is archived at:*/


The JISC funded TELSTAR project (in collaboration with RefWorks) which completed in July 2010 created a reference management tool, MyReferences, that was integrated into the Moodle Virtual Learning Environment.

Students could use this tool to create, import, export and manage their references from within the VLE. It also allows them to create citations from their references to add into their TMAs. Tools are also available to allow modules to manage their references for modules. MyReferences was launched to Staff and Students in Summer 2012 and withdrawn from service at the end of March 2016, due to the prevalence of free reference management tools.

Open University Digital Archive

This project created the OU Digital Archive (OUDA) as a place to showcase materials from the OU's rich heritage. The Digital Archive was launched to OU staff in 2014 and was made publicly available in September 2015.  The project built on work carried out by the AVA (Access to Video Assets) project but covered a wider range of types of material including historical images, digitised course books and archived virtual learning environment websites.


OpenTree was a variant of the Librarygame software implemented as part of the Library Futures Digital Skills Passport project.  The software was customised for the Open University to focus on online library resources rather than library loans and other interactions.  As well as allowing users to gain points for accessing library resources, OpenTree also included challenges encouraging users to engage with library resources.  The software also had social elements with features allowing resources to be shared, reviewed or tagged. OpenTree ran between 2015 and 2017.

OU History Project

This project is aiming to deliver a comprehensive history of The Open University covering the institution and its staff, key events in its history, the experience of the student body and its contribution to wider society. It is now situated in the Arts Faculty. For more information of this project please go to

PROWE(Personal Repositories Online Wiki Environment)

JISC funded project exploring the use of a wiki environment to help Associate Lecturers store and share good practice in learning and teaching.  For more information on this project please go to*/


The ReFLEx project explored how semantic web technologies could be applied to support students' use of OU course materials and related online resources within an integrated learning environment.


This was a small-scale video asset management project for the reuse of a set of video resources for learning and research purposes.

RISE (Recommendations Improve the Search Experience)

In this JISC-funded project the library explored how attention data from the EZProxy system could be used to provide recommendations to users of the Ebsco Discovery Solution online resources search system. As well as developing a browser interface that allowed users to search EDS and view relevant recommendations the project also built a Google Gadget search interface and explored issues of privacy and data anonymisation to identify whether it was feasible to openly release data.

A case study about RISE has been published in Showers, Ben. Library Analytics and Metrics, edited by Ben Showers, Facet Publishing, 2015.

Project duration: 01/02/2011 - 31/07/2011
Project website:
Archived version of project website:*/
Project code:

Safari (Skills in accessing, finding and reviewing information)

This project was a programme of developments in learning materials to meet the needs of Learning and Teaching Services.  For more information on Safari please go to

STELLAR (Semantic Technologies Enhancing the Lifecycle of Learning Resources)

The STELLAR project ran from February 2012 until July 2013 and worked with the rich heritage of archived Open University learning materials.

Funded by JISC as part of the JISC Digital Infrastructure Programme funding call 16/11 under the Enhancing the Sustainability of Digital Collections strand, STELLAR carried out a survey that helped to develop a detailed understanding of the types of value that academic staff and other stakeholders place on that material, using a 'balanced scorecard' approach.  The report of the survey (PDF) is available in the Institutional Repository ORO. The survey was used to inform the selection of content for transformation into Linked Data (and also informed the preservation policies for The Open University Digital Library).

STELLAR carried out a significant piece of work to establish linked data transformations for a range of different content types used by the selected OU modules.  The project then made use of a semantic web tool DiscOU developed by the OU's Knowledge Media Institute to search the linked data content.  The search tool was then evaluated in a series of sessions with stakeholders to identify the impact on perceptions of value of the collection, with positive results.

STELLAR has helped to build up the evidence base for digital preservation and lifecycle management in the area of legacy learning materials, as well as providing an example of how semantic technologies can enhance the value of digital assets within a digital library environment.  The project not only built linked data technology into the OU Digital Library platform but also provided a good illustration to the community of the effort required to establish linked data.

TELSTAR (Technology enhanced learning supporting students to achieve academic rigour)

The JISC funded TELSTAR project (in collaboration with RefWorks) looked at how references are integrated into The Open University e-learning environment. It has developed a process to allow courses to import and manage course references and a tool (MyReferences) within the Virtual Learning Environment to allow students to import and manage their references and display and export them in the appropriate citation styles. The project piloted the developments with several Open University Courses.
Project duration: 01/10/2008 - 31/07/2010
Project website:
Project website archive:*/
Project code: