Monday, April 24, 2006

More briefing session reports ...

ONIX for Licensing Terms
Briefing session by Brian Green (EDItEUR) and Mark Bide (Rightscom)

As the number of digital resources in library collections continues to grow, libraries are having difficulty in complying with the widely differing licence terms applied to those resources by their creators and publishers. The ability to express these terms in a standard format and communicate them electronically to users has become a pressing need.

A report by Intrallect for the JISC included the following requirements from libraries:

  • rights should be expressed in machine readable form
  • whenever a resource is described, its rights should also be described
  • users should be able to see the rights information associated with a resource.

In the United States, the Digital Library Federation (DLF), a grouping of the major US academic research libraries, set up their Electronic Resource Management Initiative (ERMI) to aid the rapid development of library systems by providing a series of papers to help both to define requirements and to propose data standards for the management of electronic resources.

EDItEUR, the international body for book and serials e-commerce standards which include ONIX for Books and ONIX for Serials, commissioned a review of the ERMI work from Rightscom that concluded that the ERMI work was a good starting point for such work but required considerable further development.

Following that review and a proof of concept study, co-funded by the JISC and the Publishers Licensing Society (PLS), work commenced on ONIX for Licensing Terms to support the communication of licensing terms for electronic resources from a publisher to a user institution (e.g. an academic institution or consortium), either directly or through an intermediary. The purpose is to enable the licence terms to be loaded into an electronic resources management system maintained by the receiving institution.

A joint international working party has been set up by DLF, EDItEUR, NISO and PLS to monitor this work which is currently being developed through two projects funded by the JISC PALS2 Metadata programme. Further information can be found on the EDItEUR website Report by Brian Green

Institutional identifiers: how they could streamline the supply chain
Briefing session report by Helen Henderson of Ringgold Inc

Institutional identifiers are not new. They are used for locational and financial purposes, for example MARC Organizational Codes and D-U-N-S numbers. However, they haven’t been used in the journal supply chain because in the past it wasn’t so complex. With the advent of electronic journals and site licences, and multiple intermediaries, this chain has become much more complex and the need to identify the entities involved much more important. In addition to a unique identifier, appropriate metadata is required, for example, location, category, tier, size, URL and credentials. This identifier would be used throughout the chain for licensing. publisher marketing, customer analysis, authorization and authentication, usage statistics and many other purposes. It will be necessary to embed the identifier in all the systems along the way including the ILS (Integrated Library System) or ERM (electronic resources management), publisher fulfilment system, CRM (customer relationship management) and authentication service.

Ten of the main benefits to publishers have been elaborated by Richard Gedye of Oxford University Press:

  • automatic institutional holdings reports, leading to faster, more accurate pricing quotations
  • identify all renewals – eliminate false lapsers/new subscribers – particularly important when continued online access depends on recognizing a renewal as a renewal and not a ‘new’ order
  • improved knowledge of specific market penetration levels
  • easier to merge/purge customer/subscriber lists when companies or journals change hands
  • easier to assess degree of market overlap between potential business partners
  • more useful and sophisticated usage reporting – incorporating usage data from all channels, at institutional level – could generate new licensing opportunities and pricing models
  • more effectively targeted list rental opportunities
  • better marketing response measurement – which lists resulted in the best initial response and ultimate institutional subscriptions
  • easier to track end-users of consolidated subscriptions
  • easier to identify and measure the value of your most important customers.

For the user community benefits would include:

  • reduce gaps in service
    • operations
    • administration
    • support process
  • reduce delays in activation
    • third party – immediate action
  • all institution holdings documented
    • departmental, society, personal
  • usage statistic
    • complete view of institution usage
  • overview of complete institutional relationships with a publisher
  • easy access to archives
    • publisher archives
    • JSTOR
    • LOCKSS
    • Portico
    • British Library
  • registry facilities
    • central IP registration.

A group of industry players have combined their resources to create a Journal Supply Chain Integration Pilot, to see what the issues, hurdles and benefits of such an identifier would be. The British Library, HighWire Press, HighWire Publishers, Ringgold Inc and Swets Information Services are working together on a year-long pilot which started in January to asses the practical benefits of such and identifier and look at issues like implementation and governance. The website for the pilot is: and regular progress reports are being posted to the site. There are also papers on the background to institutional identifiers in the journal supply chain at and in The Charleston Advisor (

Document supply – dead or alive?
Briefing session by Mike McGrath, Editor ‘Interlending and Document Supply’

I presented two briefing sessions at the conference; a new experience for me, and pleasurable. A surprisingly high number of 100 delegates signed up for what is a rather specialized area. However, only about 60 actually made it! Who knows why they didn’t come? One delegate, who must remain nameless, told me that he “turned up to any that he fancied, not necessarily the ones he had registered for.” Perhaps he was not the only one to take the spontaneous approach?
Those that did attend appeared to enjoy it, with a few coming up afterwards and thanking me for not using PowerPoint. It seems de rigueur these days but is often used badly and often not needed at all.

I started with a very short lecture on economics which explained why we see so much change – essentially, the commercial publishers’ drive for profits leads them endlessly to seek new products and markets whilst dominating the markets that they already control. I covered the many factors that have led to the decline of about 40% in document supply over the last five years: ‘big deals’, retrospective conversion of serials, e-books, mass digitization of books, open access and copyright combined with digital rights management. I benchmarked these against a prediction that I made in my last year of working at the British Library in 2001 that document supply would decline by about 40% but would then bottom out. The figure was about right but the bottoming out was not. I offered some explanations for why the decline continues. However, the scale of publishing, the increase in researchers, the evidence emerging of continued low usage of many journals ‘sold’ with big deals, led me to the conclusion that “document supply is down but definitely not out”. None of the attendees disagreed – hopefully because of the supporting arguments, which cannot be covered in this brief summary.

Back to Basics
Briefing session by Finola Osborn, Serials Librarian, University of Warwick and Tamsyn Honour, Commercial Support Manager, Swets Information Services

Back to Basics was a briefing session on the basic practicalities of managing print and electronic serials in libraries, specifically for those who are new to the role, from the perspective of a librarian and a subscription agent.

The session ran on the Monday and Tuesday of the Conference with around 25 people attending on each day. The participants were mostly librarians but publishers and intermediaries were also represented.

We were keen to keep to the brief of ‘basic practicalities’ and covered the key areas of serials management: pre-order information, the order process, invoicing, receipt, claiming, renewals, cancellations, e-journal management, promotion and user education.

The breadth of the topics covered within the time-frame meant that we considered only key points within each area, with the librarian highlighting potential problems and the agent offering possible solutions. Most of the key areas are common to both print and electronic serials, and we wanted to ensure that the management of print serials was not neglected in favour of electronic so we started the session by addressing the print aspect. Inevitably, a substantial amount of the session centred on the management of electronic serials highlighting issues such as licensing, access, registration, and electronic journals management systems.

We finished the session with a look at likely future developments, mentioning the pressures on libraries to move to e-only, archiving, the growing importance of usage statistics, changes in pricing models, the development of federated searches, alternative access models (open access, institutional repositories), and the burgeoning e-book market.

The sessions ended with comments from the participants, largely focusing on electronic matters such as access and licensing problems.

Report by Finola Osborn


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