get off my lawn…er…library

Going back to some idealized vision of the way things were won’t solve the problem.

The librarian community (at least, those in higher education) is all abuzz over a recent article in The Chronicle by social science and humanities librarian Daniel Goldstein. He makes several damning statements about the trend in libraries towards access over ownership and “good enough” over perfect.

Before reading the byline at the end of the article, I had a sense that the author was a well-meaning if ill-informed professor, standing up for what he thinks is what libraries should be. Needless to say, I was surprised to learn that he’s a librarian who aught to know better.

Yes, librarians should be making careful decisions about collections that guide users to the best resources, but at the same time we are facing increasing demands for more and expensive content than what we already provide. And yes, we should be instructing users on how to carefully construct searches in specialized bibliographic databases, but we’re also facing increased class sizes with decreased staff.

There is no easy answer, and going back to some idealized vision of the way things were won’t solve the problem, either. If you do go read this article, I highly recommend reading the comments as well. At least the first few do an excellent job of pointing out the flaws in Goldstein’s either-or argument.

NASIG 2009: Registration Ruminations

Presenters: Kristina Krusmark and Mary Throumoulos

More than 60% of all content purchased has an electronic component. This is continually increasing, requiring more things that need to be registered.

Last summer, Ebsco commissioned a study to identify challenges in online content purchases. About 455 participants, mostly from North America, and they identified registration and activation as the primary issue. The survey found that the process is too complicated. There isn’t a standard model, and often the instructions/information are incomplete. Another challenge the survey found was with a lack of sufficient staffing to properly manage the process. This results in delays in access or titles not being registered at all.

If users don’t have access to content, then they won’t use the content, even if it had been paid for. When librarians look at usage to make collection development decisions, the lack or delay in activation could have a huge impact on whether or not to retain the subscription. And, as one audience member noted, after having bad or frustrating experiences with registering for access, librarians might be hesitant to subscribe to online journals that are difficult to “turn on.”

Recently, Throumoulos’s library decided to convert as much as possible to online-only. They canceled print journals that were also available through aggregators like Project Muse, and made decisions about whether to retain print-only titles. Then they began the long process of activating those online subscriptions.

For online-only, most of the time the license process results in access without registration. For print+online titles, the registration process can be more complicated, and sometimes involving information from mailing labels, which may or may not be retained in processing.

Agents would like to be able to register on behalf of libraries, and most do so when they are able to. However, many publishers want the customer, not the agent, to register access. When agents can’t register for the customer, they do try to provide as much information about the process (links, instructions, customer numbers, basic license terms, etc.).

Opportunities for improvement: standardization of registration models, greater efficiencies between agents and publishers, and industry initiatives like SERU.

recent articles read

I’ve been catching up on some professional reading.

I’ve read a few articles recently that I’ve found quite interesting and would like to share some thoughts on them.

Van de Sompel, Herbert, et. al. “Rethinking Scholarly Communication: Building the System that Scholars Deserve.” D-Lib Magazine. 10:9 (2004), doi:10.1045/september2004-vandesompel [open access]

I was immediately intrigued by what the creator of OpenURL (and his co-authors) might suggest as a technological solution to the current problems with scholarly communication. I couldn’t follow all of the technological details (they lost me at the flow charts and diagrams), but I was pleased to read this in the conclusion: “The NSF has recently recommended funding the authors of this paper to investigate these problems, building on our collective research and development. In a future article we will discuss our current work in moving toward a network overlay that promotes interoperability among heterogeneous data models and system implementations. We will describe our architectural vision for addressing the fundamental technical requirements of a next generation system for scholarly communication.”

Antelman, Kristin. “Do Open-Access Articles Have a Greater Research Impact?.” College & Research Libraries. 65:5, 372-382. [open access]

The author set out to find data to confirm or debunk the common assumption that open access articles have a greater research impact than those which are not open access. She looks at four disciplines in different stages of open access development, and all of them have had a history with the use of pre-print articles. The data she gathers leads her to conclude that open access articles do have a greater research impact than those which are not freely available. I would like to see these types of studies extended to other disciplines, but I am pleased to see that someone out there is gathering data for the rest of us to share with the teaching/research faculty in the discussions about scholarly communication we should all be having.

Siebenberg, Tammy R., Betty Galbraith, and Eileen E. Brady. “Print versus Electronic Journal Use in Three Sci/Tech Disciplines: What