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.

data-crunching librarian

Officially, my title is Electronic Resources Librarian, but lately I’ve been spending more of my time and energy on gathering and crunching data about our eresources than on anything else. It’s starting to bleed over into the print world, as well. Since we don’t have someone dedicated to managing our print journals, I’ve taken on the responsibility of directing discussions about their future, as well as gathering and providing e-only options to the selectors.

I like this work, but I’ve also been feeling a bit like my role is evolving and changing in ways I’m not entirely cognizant of, and that worries me. I came into this job without clear direction and made it my own, and even though I have a department head now, I still often feel like I’m the driver. This has both positives and negatives, and lately I’ve been wishing I could have more outside direction, in part so I don’t feel so much like I’m doing things that may not have much value to the people for whom I am doing them.

However, on Monday, something clicked. A simple comment about using SAS to analyze the print book collection use over time set all sorts of things firing away in my head. About all I know with SAS is that it’s some sort of data analysis tool, but I realized that I had come up with several of my professional goals for the next year in that moment.

For one, I want to explore whether or not I can learn and use SAS (or SPSS) effectively to analyze our collections (not just print books, as in the example above). For another, I want to explore whether or not I can learn R to more effectively visualize the data I gather.

Maybe some day down the road my title won’t be Electronic Resources Librarian anymore. Maybe some day it will be Data-Crunching Librarian.

Sounds good to me.

NASIG 2009: ERMS Integration Strategies – Opportunity, Challenge, or Promise?

Speakers: Bob McQuillan (moderator), Karl Maria Fattig, Christine Stamison, and Rebecca Kemp

Many people have an ERM, some are implementing it, but few (in the room) are where they consider to be finished. ERMS present new opportunity and challenges with workflow and staffing, and the presenters intend to provide some insight for those in attendance.

At Fattig’s library, their budget for electronic is increasing as print is decreasing, and they are also running out of space for their physical collections. Their institution’s administration is not supportive of increasing space for materials, so they need to start thinking about how to stall or shrink their physical collection. In addition, they have had reductions in technical services staffing. Sound familiar?

At Kemp’s library, she notes that about 40% of her time is spent on access setup and troubleshooting, which is an indication of how much of their resources is allocated for electronic resources. Is it worth it? They know that many of their online resources are heavily used. Consorital “buying clubs” makes big deals possible, opening up access to more resources than they could afford on their own. Electronic is a good alternative to adding more volumes to already over-loaded shelves.

Stamison (SWETS) notes that they have seen a dramatic shift from print to electronic. At least two-thirds of the subscriptions they handle have an electronic component, and most libraries are going e-only when possible. Libraries tell them that they want their shelf space. Also, many libraries are going direct to publishers for the big deals, with agents getting involved only for EDI invoicing (cutting into the agent’s income). Agents are now investing in new technologies to assist libraries in managing e-collections, including implementing access.

Kemp’s library had a team of three to implement Innovative’s ERM. It took a change in workflow and incorporating additional tasks with existing positions, but everyone pulled through. Like libraries, Stamison notes that agents have had to change their workflow to handle electronic media, including extensive training. And, as libraries have more people working with all formats of serials, agents now have many different contacts within both libraries and publishers.

Fattig’s library also reorganized some positions. The systems librarian, acquisitions librarian, and serials & electronic resources coordinator all work with the ERMS, pulling from the Serials Solutions knowledge base. They have also contracted with someone in Oregon to manage their EZproxy database and WebBridge coverage load. Fattig notes that it takes a village to maintain an ERMS.

Agents with electronic gateway systems are working to become COUNTER compliant, and are heavily involved with developing SUSHI. Some are also providing services to gather those statistics for libraries.

Fattig comments that usage statistics are serials in themselves. At his library, they maintained a homegrown system for collecting usage statistics from 2000-07, then tried Serials Solutions Counter 360 for a year, but now are using an ERM/homegrown hybrid. They created their own script to clean up the files, because as we all know, COUNTER compliance means something different to each publisher. Fattig thinks that database searches are their most important statistics for evaluating platforms. They use their federated search statistics to weigh the statistics from those resources (will be broken out in COUNTER 3 compliance).

Kemp has not been able to import their use stats into ERM. One of their staff members goes in every month to download stats, and the rest come from ScholarlyStats. They are learning to make XML files out of their Excel files and hope to use the cost per use functionality in the future.

Fattig: “We haven’t gotten SUSHI to work in some of the places it’s supposed to.” Todd Carpenter from NISO notes that SUSHI compliance is a requirement of COUNTER 3.

For the next 12-18 months, Fattig expects that they will complete the creation of license and contact records, import all usage data, and implement SUSHI when they can. They will continue to work with their consorital tool, implement a discovery layer, and document everything. Plans to create a “cancellation ray gun and singalong blog” — a tool for taking criteria to generate suggested cancellation reports.

Like Fattig, Kemp plans to finish loading all of the data about license and contacts, also the coverage data. Looking forward to eliminating a legacy spreadsheet. Then, they hope to import COUNTER stats and run cost/use reports.

Agents are working with ONIX-PL to assist libraries in populating their ERMS with license terms. They are also working with CORE to assist libraries with populating acquisitions data. Stamison notes that agents are working to continue to be liaisons between publishers, libraries, and system vendors.

Dan Tonkery notes that he’s been listening to these conversations for years. No one is serving libraries very well. Libraries are working harder to get these things implemented, while also maintaining legacy systems and workarounds. “It’s too much work for something that should be simple.” Char Simser notes that we need to convince our administrations to move more staff into managing eresources as our budgets are shifting more towards them.

Another audience member notes that his main frustration is the lack of cooperation between vendors/products. We need a shared knowledge base like we have a shared repository for our catalog records. This gets tricky with different package holdings and license terms.

Audience question: When will the ERM become integrated into the ILS? Response: System vendors are listening, and the development cycle is dependent on customer input. Every library approaches their record keeping in different ways.

day in the life of an electronic resources librarian

I am participating in the DILOLibrarian project today. This account is by no means comprehensive or reflective of every aspect of my workday, since each one is different depending on the volume of things demanding my immediate attention. However, it may be of interest to my non-ER librarian friends, as well as newly minted librarians and those who are considering this profession.

  • 8:45-9:00am Arrived at work, a bit late because my carpool driver and I miscommunicated about today’s plans. Turned on computer, got a cup of coffee, got a breakfast bar, and started this post.
  • 9:00-9:30am Read and responded to new mail that has accumulated since Thursday afternoon. Sorted messages that require more than a brief response into Information and To-Do piles.
  • 9:30-9:35am Generated a list of print + online and online-only science titles from our Ebsco subscriptions and gave it to the electronic resources associate, per his request. The serials associate and ILL associate both need this info, particularly since we converted as much as possible to e-only this year.
  • 9:35-10:15am Sorted through the various to-do lists (both email and Outlook Tasks reminders, as well as a few scraps of notes on paper) and worked on them from oldest to newest. One item was to call back a publisher, but their phone system has been screwed up since last Thursday, which I discovered when I tried again. Also, they gave me the New Jersey office number, not the (correct) New York office number. *headdesk*
  • 10:15-10:25am To-do email sorted and cleared from the pile. Reviewed email tagged “waiting for a response” and followed up on those. These are mainly notes from publishers with information regarding electronic resource subscriptions that had been requested by subject liaisons. I hang on to the messages until a decision has been made.
  • 10:25-11:00am Took a break from email to work on two of last week’s TechLearning tasks, which I completed just before Andy sent out the email announcing this week’s tasks. Filed those items away in my Outlook Tasks with due dates set for Friday.
  • 11:00-11:25am Processed new email that had arrived over the past hour. Took a short break away from the desk. Sent suggested training dates/times to a vendor for a new product we have purchased.
  • 11:25-11:30am Checked NASIG executive board email and responded to messages.
  • 11:30-11:40am Reviewed and assessed email in the “information” category. Cleared out some items that are no longer needed.
  • 11:40am-12:10pm Read through some of the issues on the stack of routed professional journals. I haven’t had any desk time lately, just on-call, so I’ve slipped behind on those.
  • 12:10-1:30pm Lunch. Ran errands that took longer than expected.
  • 1:30-1:50pm Processed new email (see a theme here?), answered an IM question from a colleague, and checked on my pals on Twitter & FriendFeed.
  • 1:50-3:00pm Finished up professional reading backlog.
  • 3:00-4:50pm Worked on checking a spreadsheet of electronic resource holdings against what is listed in Serials Solutions. Added/deleted titles, collections, and holdings as needed. Also, paused frequently to respond to email messages as they came in.
  • 4:50-5:15pm Browsed through the last couple of hours of tweets. Processed additional email.
  • 5:15-5:20 Checked NASIG executive board email again.
  • 5:20pm Decided I had done enough for today, so I typed this and… publish.