Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Moving to e-only from a library perspective

I attended this breakout session yesterday and was reminded how useful it is to come to UKSG each year. I was drawn to the title of this session and in particular the '...from a library perspective' bit. That, it seems to me, is the best thing about coming to UKSG. You get to hear the view from librarians and, working in publishing as I do, find this insight invaluable.

Sarah Pearson from the University of Birmingham gave a great overview of the many challenges facing her library (and many others too I'm sure) as they move further towards an e-only model. I hope she doesn't mind me giving the ending away but as Sarah herself admited this e-only model is not likely to arrive at her University library any day soon. Instead a hybrid of print and electronic content exisits.

She outlined the collection development principles currently in place saying that web-based resources are the preferred medium and how important it is to have a flexible budget that responds to changes in course content and research directions. She also said it was key to negotiate great value for money.

The UofB has 24,000 free and subscribed e-journals plus 1000 e-resources (340 subscribed) and 4000 e-books. Sarah highlighted the many benefits of opening up greater access to their collection and offering e-access to library users including distance learners. E-delivery adds value such as alerting services; citation links and discussion forums, which are not available in print of course.

Sarah outlined the benefits, such as opening up a much bigger collection to users for a lower fee, and the drawbacks of big deals, such as taking some journals that may not be used extensively and having less control over collection development. She summed up with some useful learning points to take away:
  • don't expect to go completely e-only
  • usage is an important tool but don't forget about feedback
  • big deals have benefits but there are trade offs
  • negotiate, negotiate, negotiate.

All in all I found the session useful and it certainly gave me a library perspective on the potential for moving to an e-only model and the pitfalls that entails.

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