Roles and responsibilities

It was agreed that BL would set up the repository and manage the relationship with the software supplier, provide expertise in metadata, discovery, indexing, research support and data migration. They would also enable DataCite integration, enabling minting of Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs, unique, permanent and citable links) for all the NHS content.

HEE would cover the 12-month cost of participation by six NHS organisations and the salary costs of a Repository Coordinator. HEE would also assign a project lead who would organise and chair monthly project group meetings.

Participating NHS organisations would be required to identify a lead administrator to liaise with BL and HEE, to gain commitment and Information Governance clearance from their organisations, to be responsible for adding and maintaining their own content, and to contribute to the development of shared repository agreements and protocols.

If the repository was maintained after the end of the pilot, organisations would be expected to pay the recurrent annual cost.

Recruitment of pilot participants

HEE invited NHS Trusts in England to apply to participate in the pilot in November 2020.  Hoping to test a mix of use cases, the types of organisations from whom submissions would be welcome was outlined in the invitation to bid, along with the selection criteria, and expectations of participants.

11 applications were received, and the following were selected:

  • Barts Health NHS Trust
  • Birmingham & Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Black Country libraries consortium
  • Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
  • Norfolk & Waveney Integrated Health System
  • Somerset NHS Foundation Trust

Timeline, activities, and outcomes

BL’s process to tender for a new supplier was unfortunately subject to lengthy delays, largely as a consequence of Covid pandemic. The contract was eventually awarded to CoSector and Notch 8, in April 2021.

CoSector are based at the University of London and a major supplier of repositories and digital services to UK universities, whilst Notch8 is the US-based product owner of the Samvera Hyku open source software, so this was considered a good outcome, but the delay in awarding and then mobilising the service had a knock-on effect for the whole project. 

The test instance of the repository went live in June 2021, although it was September before a process to bulk upload records became available (prior to that only manual upload of repository records was possible), and early November before the beta version of the repository could be promoted to external audiences.

By early 2022, it was becoming clear that it would not be appropriate to extend the life of the repository beyond the end of the pilot. The unfortunate Covid- and procurement-related delays had understandably led to frustration and some disengagement on the part of participants.

Moreover, when the repository did become available for use, there was some dissatisfaction with the functionality it offered, and with the apparent lack of responsiveness of the supplier to make adaptions to better suit their needs. 

A total of 2,930 items had been uploaded to the beta repository by the six participating organisations of which 84% were journal articles, and 23% were made available in full-text to those outside the originating organisation.

Given that a key aim of the repository had been to facilitate discoverability and sharing of ‘grey literature’, the relatively low proportion of non-article document types, and the documents made fully visible to others, were a further indication that the repository was not meeting requirements.

The pilot was wound down by the end of May 2022. Participating organisations were supplied with extracts of their data and the repository closed.

Page last reviewed: 30 September 2022