As we begin a new year it’s important to reflect on our achievements from the previous to revitalise the project after the onslaught of festive-induced food-comas, and more importantly, to establish a benchmark to surpass in our work over the next twelve months.
Since I started on the Kit-Catalogue project at the tail-end of January, Loughborough’s Kit-Catalogue holds 1,200 more records, bringing the current total to over 2000 pieces of equipment from across campus, all of which are visible to internal staff and students. This cataloguing process is constantly ongoing with new equipment added upon arrival, information updates for existing records and routine data quality checks. The public-facing side of this catalogue can be seen at http://equipment.lboro.ac.uk where an ever-increasing amount of Loughborough’s equipment is made available for public enquiry.
Last year, the Kit-Catalogue software went through 4 major developments, with each version responding to the needs of users from the growing network across the UK as well as our own here at Loughborough. New features enabling a more streamlined equipment enquiry process, financial data recording and improvements to equipment management for administrators were among the key developments along with a complete layout overhaul to improve user experience and accessibility. At the moment we are working hard on V.1.2, which will include several new features discussed at the first Kit-Catalogue user group meeting in September and be released to the community soon. You can view the summary of that user group meeting to learn more about discussed software developments and more by clicking here: Kit-Catalogue 1st User Group Meeting Summary.
On the subject of the user group, Loughborough are now supporting 14 universities who are adopting the Kit-Catalogue software. The enthusiasm from all involved at the user group meeting in September was highly motivational and gave a real sense that the project really does benefit Higher Education. Since September, several more universities from the UK have joined up and we’ve also heard from institutions in Europe and the USA who are getting to grips with their own installations of Kit-Catalogue. Of course, as with any open source software, we can never know exactly who is using and/or adapting the software unless we are informed, however, our monitoring has shown downloads of the current version from across the world. Whilst these reports are great and encouraging, it’s beneficial for those serious about adopting Kit-Catalogue to get in touch and join the user group so we can provide all the necessary support in their installations and operations and collaborate to provide a better system for all. If this applies to you, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Moving on, one of the highlights from last year is our achievement of an S-Lab Award for Laboratory Equipment and Services at the first S-Lab Awards Conference at York in June. A privilege to attend and present at, the S-Lab conference invited us to into some rather insightful keynote speeches and seminar presentations that have certainly inspired several new directions for the progression of the Kit-Catalogue project. You can read the official S-Lab write-up here: S-Lab Awards Conference 2012; and you can also download the Powerpoint slides that Melanie and I delivered our seminar from on the Kit-Catalogue project website here.
Finally, if there was one event above all others to remember 2012 by, it was the Times Higher Education Awards in November at London’s plush Grosvenor House Hotel. We were absolutely delighted to hear that Kit-Catalogue was short-listed for a Times Higher Education Award in the Outstanding ICT Initiative of the Year category, as the THE Awards are one of the defining accolades of Higher Education and a key signifier that Kit-Catalogue is well regarded and making an impact on a national scale. The evening itself was most enjoyable and we were delighted that Loughborough’s new Vice Chancellor, Bob Allison was joining us at our table. Unfortunately we were pipped to claiming the award by Southampton’s Open Data project (http://data.southampton.ac.uk/) led by Chris Gutteridge – a colleague on the Uniquip project that we are part of – however, we’re pleased for Chris and look forward to watching the project grow. I’ll leave you with some photos from the night and a sense that 2012 proved an excellent and successful year for Kit-Catalogue, setting a high standard for us to surpass this year.
Until next time, Jonathan
Our press photograph on the big screen at the THE Awards, 2012.
Kit-Catalogue amongst the other finalists.
The Kit-Catalogue team (from L to R): Melanie King, Rachel Thomson, Paul Newman, Jonathan Attenborough & Keith Yendall