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.