Monday, April 12, 2010

Simplifying e-book acquisition at the University of Surrey

Kate Price, standing in for colleague Laura Smithson, described to us the re-engineering of the University of Surrey's e-book acquisitions process.

Background
U Surrey is quite innovation / research oriented so spends a lot of money on e-resources - mostly e-journals. They have about 90,000 e-books at the moment - another 100,000 if you count Early English Books Online.
  • 650 purchased in the last year
  • 2500 purchased individually (!! - surprising to me) - these usually come from the same funds as a printed book
  • Packages are usually funded from the same funds as databases
Experiences of e-books
Kate asked us all to discuss our e-book experiences with our neighbours. I chatted with a sales rep from Gale who talked about the difficulties relating to multiple different e-book platforms, and the relevance of different levels of technology penetration. Kate recaptured our attention by asking us to shout out about things we had learned that had surprised us: nothing had! We are all struggling with the same issues.

She then asked us to discuss e-book ordering processes, before quizzing us about whether we found these satisfactory ... no-one did.

Changing processes
In the past, e-book acquisitions at Surrey were strangely paper-oriented and encompassed a number of delays. With budgets being squeezed, re-engineering was necessary to introduce efficiencies - using an aggregator to reduce the number of places to search. Crucially, the aggregator shares pricing upfront, and ordering / fulfilment via EDI means that data is on the LMS from the outset, saving much time and effort.
  • Liaison librarians can log in to locate and mark the book up for ordering (essentially, adding titles to a shopping cart)
  • the acquisitions staff will then log in to process the orders, either as batches or (when urgent) as standalone orders
  • the data is then output as a spreadsheet (and the user can select which fields this should contain) for import into the LMS
  • each item will appear as "not yet active - item is on order", so that users know access is imminent.
The LMS is a crucial part of the chain, through which orders are made and paid. "We print off the invoice as proof of purchase, because we don't trust e-books to stay there." The ordering, receipting, quality checking processes now take about 2 hours per week for 25 e-books.

[Surrey uses Coutts Oasis and Talis Prism but points out (true BBC style) that "other EDI order suppliers and LMS systems are available".]

Top tips and checklists
Kate (or perhaps Laura) has put together handouts with checklists; tips include:
  • ask your e-book supplier to match your current stock against their available e-books when you start building your e-book collection, and get them to notify you when an e-book is available for a print book that you order - particularly good to do this for e.g. short-loan collections
  • training, training, training - help sheets, screenshots, get the supplier in - ensure staff are familiar with the system
  • establish workflows that suit your set up
  • give everyone their own login (this can help to ensure e.g. they use the correct fund codes, as these can be configured only to appear for certain people)
  • test, test, test
  • integrate e-book ordering into the normal workflow - not something different or new
  • establish processes e.g. quality checking, usage statistics, wishlists, customer support
"We'd like a lot more e-books to be published!"
Next steps for Surrey include
  • embedding procedures for purchasing from non-EDI-enabled publishers
  • introducing paperless processes for print book purchasing
  • agreeing policy on purchasing e-versions
  • patron-driven purchasing?
Future improvements Surrey would like to see include:
  • Improved online selection and ordering
  • Improved availability of e-books
  • Easier login to individual titles
  • Better mobile useability
  • Reduced DRM
  • Better understanding of learning needs e.g. multiple downloads, flipping pages, copying - "they need to do all of these things to learn effectively. Why publish an academic work if they can't use it do what they need to do?"

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1 Comments:

Blogger ucas said...

Thanks for sharing, I will bookmark and be back again...


University of Surrey

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