Digimap for Schools and the New OFSTED Framework for Primary Schools

Its been a busy week already! Schools have started back and we are already seeing a big rise in the number of Primary Schools subscribing to Digimap for Schools!

We suspect this has a LOT to do with the new OFSTED framework that began on 1st September. (Apologies now as we aren’t teachers or OFSTED inspectors so our knowledge and understanding is limited!) .

We seem to be gathering from our users that this new framework focuses on a broader Primary curriculum delivery and has less focus on numeracy and literacy. I know this is bad news for many schools as these changes will have ripple effects around schools e.g. teachers now expected to deliver or develop a History or Geography curriculum from scratch.

We’ve received some feedback on the ways Digimap for Schools is helping schools with this transition but would love some concrete examples or lovely quotes to help us spread the word of Digimap!

Please do keep spreading the word to your fellow Primary teaching colleagues!

Digimap for Colleges to be withdrawn 31 December 2019

For those people in FE colleges using our Digimap for Colleges service, the following will be important. Digimap for Colleges is available to Further Education Colleges only. From 31st December 2019 Digimap for Colleges will be no longer be available. Access to the same maps (and substantially more) continues to be provided through our comprehensive […]

Enhancements to Digimap – August 2019

Over the last month or so, following feedback from users of the Digimap service, we made a few additions and enhancements to Digimap.  We will be running a webinar on these early in the new term but here is a quick run down of the new features: Overlays added to OS Roam, including contours, spot heights, […]

SUNCAT: So long, and thanks for all the fish!

It is time to say goodbye to all the SUNCAT Contributing Libraries, researchers and users (but we are still around until 5pm on the 31st July – so carry on using us until then!). We have been a long time running (“old and reliable” has been one description), and it is now time to hand over the baton of the national union catalogue to the National Bibliographic Knowledgebase. SUNCAT has been the serials union catalogue for the UK research community, delivered by EDINA on behalf of Jisc.

SUNCAT has enabled researchers, students, librarians and others to locate serials held in libraries across the UK. The catalogue contains information on both electronic and print serials (and in other formats!), including journals, periodicals, newspapers, magazines, newsletters, annual reports and other publications of a continuing nature. SUNCAT also contains high quality bibliographic records, which allows libraries to upgrade their own catalogues, and offers other services such as personalised searches and a serial comparison holding tool.

In 2003, a two year tender was awarded to EDINA to create and maintain a National Union Catalogue of Serials. Ex Libris were project partners with EDINA: Ex Libris supplied the Library Management System Aleph that underpinned SUNCAT for many years. In addition, representatives from a selection of libraries holding large serials collections worked closely with the project team as early contributors and associate partners.

SUNCAT was moved from project to service in 2007, and has been steadily growing since then. In 2016, the final work on the service was completed: in the previous couple of years, we had designed a new front and back end, moving away from Aleph to a bespoke system that allowed more flexibility with searching, refining, matching, to create an improved and more user friendly catalogue. Our ingest process was speeded up considerably, allowing SUNCAT to increase the number of Contributing Libraries with no fear of not making our SLA targets.  

By the end of service, SUNCAT contains:

·         The bibliographic records and holdings of 120 Contributing Libraries, including the data sets from CONSER, the ISSN, and the Directory of Open Access Journals.

·         A database containing over 10 million serials bibliographic records and associated holdings.

·         Nearly 87 million records ever loaded into the SUNCAT database, over the lifetime of the service.

·         Contributing Libraries including the National Libraries, the Copyright Libraries, many University libraries and specialist libraries.

·         Specialist libraries cover all subject areas, from the British Film Institute, through to the Institute of Cancer Research, Lambeth Palace and the Wiener Library for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide.

·         Data received in all sorts of formats (lots of acronyms coming up!): AACR, AACR2, AACR2r, RDA, MARC21, UKMARC, USMARC, XML, MARCXML, Word documents, Access databases, Excel spreadsheets – and anything else (including combinations of the above)… and are all normalised into MARC21 in a MARCXML wrapper.

·         On average, SUNCAT receives between 60 and 70 updates a month.

·         The physical libraries range from the North of Scotland (Inverness), to the British Antarctic Survey in South Georgia, and the British Antarctic Survey in Rothera.

·         Titles ranging from “A magazine” to “ZZZZZZ” – and everything in-between!

It was decided in 2012 that SUNCAT needed more functionality than was currently being offered by the Aleph interface which had been in use since 2003. The decision was made to bring development in-house, and we had a brilliant team who helped re-design the front end, including the map which showed the physical location of all the SUNCAT Contributing Libraries. Did you ever pull the map out to show the world? You might have noticed our two most remote libraries, based in Antarctica. We even wrote a blog post on them, when the NERC libraries were added to SUNCAT, complete with a picture of the base at Rothera (and obligatory penguins).

Once the work on the front end had been completed, it was clear that the back end also needed redevelopment. This was also done in-house, creating a completely new ingest process based on Solr and zebra databases. As I noted above, it was completed in 2016, and managing updates and loading has been speeded up considerably.


Of course, my final point, and the most important, is to note that none of the work associated with SUNCAT would have been achieved and contributed to its longevity without the input of the SUNCAT Contributing Libraries. Starting off with those who sent their data early, so that we could work out our processes and data streams, to those who have come on board more recently to get a handle on data export, I salute you. Thank you for being part of SUNCAT: we could not have done anything without your belief in what we were trying to achieve, your dedication, your work, and your data! We have loved receiving your data, in whatever format, and I hope that your inclusion in SUNCAT raised the visibility of your holdings through another forum, and that you have enjoyed being part of SUNCAT.


And now it is time for me to sign off, and thank you all again for being part of SUNCAT, and wish you all the best for the future. The past 16 years have been a blast – THANK YOU!


(A picture of my original SUNCAT – Tari sunbathing in the window)

(And my newest SUNCAT – Logan, being all kitten-y in the sunshine… not bad for a 15-year old!)

SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated for the very last time! Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service this week. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Birmingham University (02 Jul 19)
  • British Library (25 Jul 19)
  • City, University of London (24 Jul 19)
  • CONSER (Not UK Holdings) (24 Jul 19)
  • Cranfield University (20 Jul 19)
  • De Montfort University (21 Jul 19)
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (19 Jul 19)
  • Dundee University (22 Jul 19)
  • Kingston University (20 Jul 19)
  • London Library (25 Jul 19)
  • London Metropolitan University (22 Jul 19)
  • Open University (22 Jul 19)
  • Oxford University (22 Jul 19)
  • Southampton University (21 Jul 19)
  • Warwick University (22 Jul 19)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service last week. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Birmingham University (22 Jun 19)
  • British Library (18 Jul 19)
  • British Museum (01  Jul 19)
  • Canterbury Christ Church University (08 Jul 19)
  • Cardiff University (01 Jul 19)
  • CONSER (Not UK Holdings) (17 Jul 19)
  • Durham University (04 Jul 19)
  • Edinburgh Napier University (01 Jul 19)
  • Edinburgh University (01 Jul 19)
  • Essex University (06 Jul 19)
  • Glasgow University (12 Jul 19)
  • Kent University (02 Jul 19)
  • Kingston University (01 Jul 19)
  • Lancaster University (01 Jul 19)
  • Leicester University (01 Jul 19)
  • London School of Economics and Political Science (01 Jul 19)
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (01 Jul 19)
  • Manchester Metropolitan University (16 Jul 19)
  • Manchester University (01 Jul 19)
  • National Archives (13 Jul 19)
  • National Library of Wales (01 Jul 19)
  • Natural History Museum (01 Jul 19)
  • Northumbria University (01 Jul 19)
  • Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (02 Jul 19)
  • Queen’s University, Belfast (03 Jul 19)
  • Royal College of Nursing (10 Jul 19)
  • St. Andrews University (05 Jul 19)
  • School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) (08 Jul 19)
  • Senate House Libraries, University of London (27 Jun 19)
  • Sheffield Hallam University (01 Jul 19)
  • Sheffield University (01 Jul 19)
  • Southampton University (14 Jul 19)
  • Strathclyde University (01 Jul 19)
  • Sussex University (01 Jul 19)
  • Swansea University (01 Jul 19)
  • University of Wales Trinity Saint David (01 Jul 19)
  • Wellcome Library (09 Jul 19)
  • York University (01 Jul 19)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.

Appreciate Cows!

Today (9th July 2019) is Cow Appreciation Day. Join SUNCAT in giving your appreciation to these wonderful creatures! Here are some weird and wonderful journal titles on the theme of cows.

  • Hot rum cow.
  • Cow’zine.
  • Moo-Cow Fan Club newsletter.
  • Cow in the road.
  • The adventures of Capt. Plaid Cow.
  • The New cow of Greenwich Village.
  • The purple cow.
  • Mad cow: newsletter of the Berkshire South-East branch of CAMRA.
  • Black Book – European Publishing: Why Buy the Cow When the Milk Is Free?
  • The duchess of Devonshire’s cow; a poem.
  • Cow Longevity Conference, 28-29 August 2013, Tumba, Sweden.

This is our last ever weird and wonderful SUNCAT post. We have come across some amazing weird and wonderful journal titles through the years. (One of the most memorable has to be ‘Hearse : a vehicle used to convey the dead’!) As well as individual posts, we have had some great series, including that of football fanzines and Olympic sports. We hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as we have enjoyed compiling them.

SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service this week. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Aberystwyth University (01 Jul 19)
  • Bath University (01 Jul 19)
  • Birmingham University (01 May 19)
  • British Library (04 Jul 19)
  • Brunel University London (27 Jun 19)
  • CONSER (Not UK Holdings) (03 Jul 19)
  • Dundee University (01 Jul 19)
  • Edinburgh University (01 Jul 19)
  • Imperial College London (01 Jul 19)
  • King’s College London (01 Jul 19)
  • Leeds University (29 Jun 19)
  • London Business School (28 Jun 19)
  • London Library (28 Jun 19)
  • St. Andrews University (29 Jun 19)
  • Science & Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) (28 Jun 19)
  • Scottish National Portrait Gallery (27 Jun 19)
  • Southampton University (30 Jun 19)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.