NASIG 2009: Ensuring Perpetual Access to Online Subscriptions

Presenters: Judy Luther (moderator), Ken DiFiore, Nancy Gibbs (contributed, but not able to attend), Selden Lamorueux, Victoria Reich, Heather Ruland Staines, and Kim Steinle

Librarians have asked publishers to ensure that they will have perpetual access available to paid subscribers, which is a reverse of the previous arrangement with print, which required the librarians to preserve access to the physical copy in their buildings. It took publishers some time to address this, and it continues to evolve.

Libraries, and academic libraries in particular, have proven staying power. Librarians, working with publishers, are responsible for providing access to information.

There are two issues with online perpetual access: maintaining access to content when a subscription ends and maintaining access to content when a publisher ceases to exist. Libraries have the resources to be custodians of the content through digital preservation practices, both alone and in community.

How are librarians & publishers managing expectations for the financial impact of moving to online-only content? First, make sure that there is some sort of preservation guarantee. You will need to start shifting staff from managing stacks/materials to managing online, which will impact training needs. There are cost savings in space and opening up the building to other relevant uses. Peter McCracken suggests that we should emphasize the service and benefits of online content.

Libraries purchase the delivery mechanism, not the content. Owning a print archive does not mean that online is automatically free. And, it’s not just the content that you get with online. The user interface is an essential component, and it isn’t cheap to develop or maintain.

The most important thing that librarians need to do is read the license agreement. If it doesn’t specify what happens to content if a subscription is canceled or if the publisher ceases to exist, negotiate for that to be added. CYA, folks! If you pay for it, make sure you’re really going to get it.

ala midwinter seattle — the end

I was up bright and early Saturday morning. Despite having drifted off to sleep around 11pm, my body decided that it was time to wake up around 5am. We ended up compromising and I got up at 6am. This allowed me time to drop by the convention center and use the wifi for a bit before my 8am ALCTS Serials Section Acquisitions Committee meeting. The meeting was moderately productive and also happened to be my first ALA committee meeting (I’m an intern).

After that, I headed back to the convention center to meet with my Dean and a potential candidate for a position we have open at my library. It was a good meeting and I learned a lot about how these sorts of things work. Very useful information if/when I decide to go into library administration. We also met with another potential candidate in the afternoon, and that, too was a good and informative meeting.

I ended up skipping the CSA lunch, the Google Tips for Librarians session, and the III e-resources sessions that I had planned to attend over the next few hours. Instead, I lunched with my Dean and met up with some friends for further lunching (desert for me, lunch for them). In between that and the afternoon meeting, I wandered around the overwhelmingly large exhibit hall and talked to some vendors.

In the evening, I attended the NMRT social at the Elephant and Castle Pub, met a few folks I didn’t know, and ended up having and unexpectedly good time. My usual posse were off at other events, so it was a bit of a struggle to feel comfortable on my own and to meet new people. And I’m subscribing to the Young Librarian‘s blog.

On Sunday morning, I attended the Electronic Resources Breakfast hosted by Ebsco. It was an interesting discussion, much like what I encounter regularly at NASIG. It surprised me to learn that this sort of thing is uncommon for ALA events. That’s a pity.

I had intended to go to the ACRL presidential candidates forum lunch, but I ended up in the exhibit hall instead. After snagging a few more advance reader copies of interesting books, and picking up a bit more swag, I headed back to my hotel to unload everything. I also stopped at Rite Aid for some aspirin (the previous night’s events had left their mark in the form of a killer headache) and shoe inserts for my tired feet. This turned out to be a very good move, since according to my pedometer, I walked a little over six miles by the end of the day.

Refreshed, and carrying a much lighter load, I returned to the convention center for what I thought was a meeting there. Turns out WEST meant the Westin, but I didn’t find that out until after the Academic Librarians advocacy group was supposed to be meeting. I trekked down to the Westing in a rush, only to discover that either the meeting was canceled or moved or no one else had shown up. Disappointed, I returned to the convention center and chatted with a vendor until it was time for my backup meeting — ALCTS Serials Section Journal Costs in Libraries Discussion Group.

I stayed for about twenty minutes until it became apparent that the meeting was more about Selden Durgom Lamoureux and Judy Luther’s project to develop a standard “best practices” license agreement that publishers and libraries could choose to invoke rather than spending time and money on the license negotiation process. It’s a good idea, and at some point this week it should be up on the NISO website. I would have stayed longer, but I received a phone call and the session wasn’t what I was expecting it to be.

After a bit, I met up with Karen Schneider and a friend, and the three of us went to the Seattle Public Library for the GLBTRT social. The room was packed and I felt very out of place, for some reason. I ended up exploring the library, mostly on my own, instead of staying in the room for very long. When I get home, I’ll upload the pictures I took.

I snagged a cab instead of walking the mile or so to the Space Needle, and my feet thanked me. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the dessert tables at the III dessert reception, but I was so overwhelmed by the array of decadent chocolate (and other) desserts that it completely slipped my mind. This would also be the reason why I didn’t take pictures from the tower, either. By the end of the night, the sugar and wine combined to make me feel so exhausted I was almost ill. Yet another thing that was fun while it lasted, but the after-effects left much to be desired. Next time I won’t have the glass of wine.

My Monday morning meeting was canceled, which allowed me to sleep in (yay!) and sit here writing all this up. All I have left is a CMDS forum on collecting e-resources use, and then I go catch the shuttle home.

I feel like it’s been worthwhile for me to be here, but I’m also frustrated that so many of the things I would have attended conflicted with things I had to attend, and that there were a lot of gaps of nothing in between that could have been filled with meetings and sessions. I realize that ALA is a large organization and that scheduling is difficult under the circumstances, but it sure would be nice if some of the sessions and discussions were scheduled later in the day rather than at the same time as scheduled committee meetings. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that everything I’m interested in will be covered at NASIG, so I guess should just approach midwinter as a business meeting rather than professional development.