carpe diem

Mac & Cheese is a vegetable!
Mac & Cheese is a vegetable!

I told a friend yesterday that I felt like I didn’t carpe enough diem at Charleston Conference. It was my first time attending, and I didn’t have a good sense of the flow. I wasn’t prepared for folks to be leaving so early on Saturday, I didn’t know about the vendor showcase on Wednesday until after I made my travel arrangements, and I felt like I didn’t make the most of the limited time I had.

Next time will be better. And yes, there will be a next time, but maybe after a year or two. I understand from some regulars that the plenary sessions were below average this year, which matched my disappointed expectations. Now knowing that there is little vetting of the concurrent sessions, I will be more particular in my choices the next time, and hopefully select sessions where the content matches my expectations based on the abstracts.

The food in Charleston definitely met my expectations. I had tasty shrimp & grits a couple times, variations on fried chicken nearly every day, and a yummy cup of she crab soup. Tried a few local brews, and a dark & stormy from a cool bar that brews their own ginger beer. I’d go back for the food for sure.

Charleston 2012: EWWW!: Electronic Resources in the 21st Century (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the Catalog and Love the MARC Records Service)

15/52 : Titanic by Eric Constantineau
“15/52 : Titanic” by Eric Constantineau

Speakers: Ladd Brown, Andi Ogier, and Annette Bailey, Virginia Tech

Libraries are not about the collections anymore, they’re about space. The library is a place to connect to the university community. We are aggressively de-selecting, buying digital backfiles in the humanities to clear out the print collections.

Guess what? We still have our legacy workflows. They were built for processing physical items. Then eresources came along, and there were two parallel processes. Ebooks have the potential of becoming a third process.

Along with the legacy workflows, they have a new Dean, who is forward thinking. The Dean says it’s time to rip off the bandaid. (Titanic = old workflow; iceberg = eresources; people in life boats = technical resources team) Strategic plans are living documents kept on top of the desk and not in the drawer.

With all of this in mind, acquisitions leaders began meeting daily in a group called Eresources Workflow Weekly Work, planning the changes they needed to make. They did process mapping with sharpies, post-its, and incorporated everyone in the library that had anything to do with eresources. After lots of meetings, position descriptions began to emerge.

Electronic Resource Supervisor is the title of the former book and serials acquisitions heads. The rest — wasn’t clear from the description.

They had a MARC record service for ejournals, but after this reorganization process, they realized they needed the same for ebooks, and could be handled by the same folks.

Two person teams were formed based on who did what in the former parallel processes, and they reconfigured their workspace to make this more functional. The team cubes are together, and they have open collaboration spaces for other groupings.

They shifted focus from maintaining MARC records in their ILS to maintaining accurate title lists and data in their ERMS. They’re letting the data from the ERMS populate the ILS with appropriate MARC records.

They use some Python scripts to help move data from system to system, and more staff are being trained to support it. They’re also using the Google Apps portal for collaborative projects.

They wanted to take risks, make mistakes, fail quickly, but also see successes come quickly. They needed someplace to start, and to avoid reinventing the wheel, so they borrowed heavily from the work done by colleagues at James Madison University. They also hired Carl Grant as a consultant to ask questions and facilitate cross-departmental work.

Big thing to keep in mind: Administration needs to be prepared to allow staff to spend time learning new processes and not keeping up with everything they used to do at the same time. And, as they let go of the work they used to do, please tell them it was important or they won’t adopt the new work.

Charleston 2012: bX Usage-Based Services

Blogger recommend Sign by Davich Klinadung
“Blogger recommend Sign” by Davich Klinadung

Speaker: Christine Stohn, bX project manager

There are two components — the recommender and hot articles.

This began in 2009 with the article recommended, and as of this year, it’s used by over 1100 institutions. This year they added the hot articles service, with “popularity reports”. And, there is a mobile app for the hot articles service. Behind the scenes, there is the bX Data Lab, where they run experiments and quality control. They’re also interested in data mining researchers who might want to take the data and use it for their own work.

The data for bX comes from SFX users who actively contribute the data from user clicks at their institutions. It’s content-neutral, coming from many institutions.

bX is attempting to add some serendipity to searches that by definition require some knowledge of what you are looking for. When you find something from your searching, the bX recommender will find other relevant articles for you, based on what other people have used in the past. The hot articles component will list the most used articles from the last month that are on the same topic as your search result.

It currently works only with articles, but they are collecting data on ebooks that may eventually lead to the ability to recommend them as well.

The hot articles component is based on HILCC¬†subjects that have been assigned to journal titles, so it’s not as precise as the recommender.

You can choose to limit the recommendations to only your holdings, but that limits the discovery. You can have indicators that show whether the item is available locally or not.

It’s available in SFX, Primo, Scopus, and the Science Direct platform. Hot articles can be embedded in LibGuides.

Atmetrics – probably will be incorporated to enhance the recommender service.

They are looking at article metrics calculated as a percentile rank per topic, which is more relevant today than the citations that may come five years down the road. It’s based on usage through SFX and bX, but not direct links or DOI links.

Charleston 2012: Wasted Words? Current Trends in CD Policies

Dad's Desk II by Chris Jagers
“Dad’s Desk II” by Chris Jagers

Speakers: Matt Torrence, Audrey Powers, & Megan Sheffield, University of South Florida

Are collection development policies viable today? In order answer this, they sent out a survey to ARL libraries to see if they are using them or if they’re experimenting with something else. They were also interested to know when and how data is being used in the process.

The survey results will be published in the proceedings. I will note anything here that seems particularly interesting, but it looks like all they are doing now is reading that to us.

Are collection development policies being used? Yes, sort of. Although most libraries in the survey do have them, they tend to be used for accreditation and communication, and often they are not consistently available either publicly or internally.

What are the motivations for using collection development policies? Tends to be more for external/marketing than for internal workflows.

They think that a collection ¬†development “philosophy” may be a more holistic response to the changing nature of collection development.

Speakers: two people from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, but they had four names on the PPT, and I didn’t catch who was who

They recently decided to revise their collection development policy/guidelines based on a recommendation from a strategic planning ARL Collection Analysis Project. They also had quite a few new librarians who needed to work with faculty selectors.

They did a literature review and gathered information on practices from peer institutions. They actually talked to the Office of Institutional Research about data on academic degree programs. And, like students, they looked online to see if they could borrow from existing documents.

One thing they took away from the review of what other libraries have out there was that they needed to have the document live on the web, and not just on paper in a binder in someone’s office.

Policies/guidelines should be continuously updating, flexible, acknowledge consortia memberships, acknowledge new formats, and strike a balance between being overly detailed and too general.

They see that the project has had some benefits, not only to themselves but also to provide a guide for current and future users of the policies. It is also a valuable tool for transmitting institutional memory.

Charleston 2012: Ebooks – One Size Does Not Fit All

One size fits all. Welcome to the 80's by Stephan van Es
“One size fits all. Welcome to the 80’s” by Stephan van Es

Speaker: Anne McKee, GWLA

SERU was heavily involved in putting this session together. SERU hopes to put away with the madness of licensing and come up with mutually agreeable terms.

Most libraries purchase ebooks in order to make them available 24/7 to their users. While they haven’t grown to proportion sizes larger than print in library collections, they are heading there.

Researchers like ebooks because they don’t have to return them, and are more accessible than print books in the developing world. Students appreciate the ease of accessibility, particularly distance learnings, but given the choice they would take print over e every time. Libraries like them because there are easier/better ways of assessing usage and value to their users, but there are licensing and DRM headaches.

Speaker: Adam Chesler, Business Expert Press / Momentum Press

He has worked for large publishers, but now works for a small, new publisher.

What’s hard for a new publisher to break into the library market? Creating awareness, providing value — acquisition librarians are already overwhelmed with sales pitches via email. Authors may be wary of working with an unknown outlet when there are so many other options. They have to figure out ways to do this creatively.

Gaining budget shares in library materials budgets is challenging, where established publishers have long-standing space. Setting up trials for libraries and following up on them is challenging when one person is responsible for every business/science library in North America. “If you set up a trial, it would be much better to tell me to go to hell than ignore me.”

What’s easy? Nothing.

Well, being an e-only publisher means they don’t have responsibility for a print legacy that needs to be converted to online. That’s easy. They also have more freedom to experiment, particularly with pricing models. And SERU. That’s easy. They also don’t have their own platform, so they make the books available on established providers libraries are already comfortable using.

Speaker: Kimberly Steinle, Duke University Press

When they created the ebook side of the press, they modeled it after the ejournal side, with similar tiered pricing. They also work with the other ebook platforms and their pricing and licensing models.

While the ejournal collection sales are significant, they were surprised to find that ebook collections were not as popular as individual title sales.

They thought selling ebooks would be easy, since they already had existing relationships. MARC records, pricing, technology — not as easy as they thought. Squeezing the ebook model into the ejournal model doesn’t quite fit.

It’s easy to set up multiple sales models, but harder to get information about who the customers are and using that to make business decisions.

They’re a little worried that if they give up DRM it will impact print sales, but it’s obviously pretty unpopular and they do want the books to be used. They’re thinking about future formats — EPUB3, HTML5 — they need to keep up. They’re thinking about new ways to sell the content, and increasing the number of platforms and partners they work with.

Speaker: Bob Boissey, Springer

Serials come first at Springer (because they’re 80% of your materials budget). But, he’ll talk about ebooks today.

The STM publisher’s preference is to sell ebooks in packages directly to libraries, but there are other models based on library or patron selection that have some appeal. Eventually, market forces will probably mean they’ll have to do something with PDA.

In the post-PDA world, maybe we stop selecting and make sure that our systems are solid for allowing our users to find the best, most relevant content in an un-scoped collection. Might also mean giving up some of our concepts about what librarianship is.

The easy stuff: Libraries are the traditional purchasers of scholarly books, and publishers know how many print books we’ve purchased from them in the past. Many eresource issues were resolved with ejournals. SERU. The volume discount approach to selling ebook packages can work if the per unit cost is low, the percentage of portfolio used is high, and the spend is commensurate with print spend, but with more titles. Include textbooks and reference books in the package. Remove DRM, pair with liberal use and ILL permissions.

The not so easy, but not so hard stuff: Editors and authors have not had an easy time coming to terms with ebooks, much like print on demand. Discovery layer for ebooks is still the catalog, and it’s not down to the full text quite yet. Tablets are great for ebooks, and as they get more popular on campuses, ebooks get used more. Might have to give up the concept of book as a full thing and be okay with chapter-level reading. Most scholarly books outside of the humanities and social sciences are not read as a whole.