Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Anti-acquisitions librarians in the era of economic downsizing

Jill Emery started the perspective of the University of Texas Libraries with the comment that 'anti-acquisitions' isn't necessarily about cuts, it can be about core collection development, which is much more positive message. What's essential to the library service to keep in-house?

Jill posed a model of collection development based on four levels:
  • Core collections: essential, won't be cut (including some big deals ,when tied to consortia access)
  • Librarian selected content: small funds mostly based on endowment accounts and linked to specific subject areas
  • Patron selected content: mostly in the area of e-books at present, although also encompassing some rush print orders coming from the ILL request system
  • Print-on-demand content: as POD expands, this may become more of an option for supplying out of print content

Texas have also been developing “disapproval” plans, telling vendors actively what they don't want to buy, which is leading to a more granular selection of approval plan stock, and they are considering separating out approval plans and e-notifications (slip plans).

Book acquisitions are the target for a group of big US universities, who want patron driven purchasing of both print and electronic books. E-book vendors are on the whole nearly there, but it's further behind for print, although the fact that print is still coming out before the e-version in many cases means there still needs to be the option.

For patron driven acquisitions, there needs to be set thresholds for purchase and cost, and it also needs interoperable vendor systems and LMS (something which is improving). Texas' experience does show that brief MARC records are OK: they find that users manage to find books and reserve them before they've come in, even just from basic title and author information.

Texas held a pilot project on patron driven article access, but felt that the level of customization wasn't good enough to go further, eg in terms of branding and making sure it was clear access was provided by the university. Other US libraries have moved further in this direction.

Print on demand is “lurking in the background”: their campus bookshop has brought an Expresso book machine, primarily for textbooks, but it opens up new options. Texas are finding that even new books coming in on approval plans are starting to be print on demand copies.

Dana Walker from University of Georgia Libraries was unfortunately unable to attend the conference in person to present Georgia's work on journal management.

University of Georgia faced a significant budget shortfall in 2008, so were forced to re-negotiate some deals and bring in selective pay per view. They also looked closely at usage statistics data, cost per use, cancellation restrictions, ISI impact factors and aggregator availability for all subscriptions (a task complicated by the difficulties in matching ISSNs between usage data and subscription data, so they ended up with a “family” of ISSNs for each journal).

After the initial work, Georgia decided that they needed to create a web based application, more dynamic than spreadsheets, if it was to be used for on-going decision making. They created their own “journal list” bringing together data from multiple sources using WinPerl which allowed them to, eg, connect orders with cost data and usage data, jump to entries in OPAC and e-journals A-Z, produce alerts if journal is non-cancellable, link to ISI impact factors etc. Their next step was to add licence information. The Georgia “Journal list” is effectively a home-grown ERMS, but based around collection development needs, and making decisions about renewals and cancellations, rather than a focus solely on lifecycle management. Interestingly the university had previously purchased a commercial ERM, as part of a consortial deal, but never implemented it due to the time costs of populating it with data [!].

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