ER&L 2012: Taking the Guesswork Out of Demand-Driven Acquisition — Two Approaches

Tome Reader
photo by QQ Li

Speakers: Carol J. Cramer & Derrik Hiatt

They did an analysis of their circulating print collection to see what areas or books would have the equivalent uses to trigger a purchase if it were electronic. Only 2% of their entire circulating collection met the trigger point to where it would be more cost effective to purchase than to go with a short term loan option.

They announced the DDA trial, but deliberately did not tell the users that it would incur cost, just that it was there. They would pay short term loans up to the sixth use, and then they would purchase the title. The year of usage gave them an idea of what adjustments needed to be made to the trigger point. Eventually, the cost flattens out at the sixth use, and the difference between continuing to pay STLs and buying the book is small.

They were able to identify if the triggered purchase book was used by a single person (repeatedly), by a class (several people), or a mix of both, and it was split in almost even thirds.

They determined that 6 was a good trigger. The STL cost ended up being an average of 10.5% of the list cost. DDA doesn’t have to break the bank, and was lower than expected. The number of titles in the catalog didn’t have as much to do with the amount spent as the FTE. It also lead to questioning the value of firm ordering ebooks rather than letting DDA cover it

However, this is only 11 months of data, and more longitudinal studies are needed.

Speaker: Lea Currie

They loaded records for slip books, and then the users have the option to request them at various levels of speed. The users are notified when the print book arrives, and the full MARC record is not loaded until the book is returned.

They saved quit a bit of money per month using this method, and 88% of the titles purchased circulated. Only about 75% of their ILL titles will circulate, to put that into perspective.

Of course, librarians still had some concerns. First, the library catalog is not an adequate tool for discovering titles. Faculty were concerned about individuals doing massive requests for personal research topics. Also, faculty do not want to be selectors for the libraries. [ORLY? They want the books they want when they want them — how is that different?]

The next DDA project was for ebooks, using the typical trigger points. They convinced the Social Science and Sci/Tech librarians to put a price cap for DDA titles. Up to a certain price, the book would be included in the approval plan, between a range it would go in DDA, and then above that range it would require the librarian’s approval. These were written into their YBP profile.

For the pDDA, they discovered that as the books aged, it was harder to do rush orders since they were going out of print. They also modified their language to indicate that the books may not be available if they are out of print.

They have not done DDA for humanities or area studies. They based their decisions on the YBP profile on retrospective reports, which allowed them to get an idea of the average cost.

For FY12, they expect that the breakdown will be 23% eDDA, 50% pDDA, 20% approval, and 7% selected by subject bibliographers. They’ve also given the subject librarians the options to review the automatic approval ebooks — they have a week to reject or shift to DDA each title if they want. They can also shift the expensive titles to DDA if they want to see if anyone would use it before choosing to purchase it.

Questions:
Are you putting the records in your discovery service if you have one, and can you tell if the uses are coming from that or your catalog? Not yet. Implementing a discovery service. Some find resources through Google Scholar.

ER&L 2012: Next Steps in Transforming Academic Libraries — Radical Redesign to Mainstream E-Resource Management

The smallest details add up
photo by Garrett Coakley

Speaker: Steven Sowell

His position is new for his library (July 2011), and when Barbara Fister saw the job posting, she lamented that user-centered collection development would relegate librarians to signing licenses and paying invoices, but Sowell doesn’t agree.

Values and assumptions: As an academic library, we derive our reason for existing from our students and faculty. Our collections are a means to an end, rather than an end to themselves. They can do this in part because they don’t have ARL-like expectations of themselves. A number of studies has shown that users do a better job of selecting materials than we do, and they’ve been moving to more of a just in time model than a just in case.

They have had to deal with less money and many needs, so they’ve gotten creative. The university recently realigned departments and positions, and part of that included the creation of the Collections & Resource Sharing Department (CRSD). It’s nicknamed the “get it” department. Their mission is to connect the community to the content.

PDA, POV, PPV, approval plans, shelf-ready, and shared preservation are just a few of the things that have changed how we collect and do budget planning.

CRSD includes collection development, electronic resources, collections management, resource sharing & delivery, and circulation (refocusing on customer service and self-servicing, as well as some IT services). However, this is a new department, and Sowell speaks more about what these things will be doing than about what they are doing or how the change has been effective or not.

One of the things they’ve done is to rewrite position descriptions to refocus on the department goals. They’ve also been focusing on group facilitation and change management through brainstorming, parking lot, and multi-voting systems. Staff have a lot of anxiety over feeling like an expert in something and moving to where they are a novice and having to learn something new. They had to say goodbye to the old routines, mix them with new, and then eventually make the full shift.

They are using process mapping to keep up with the workflow changes. They’re also using service design tools like journey mapping (visualization of the user’s experience with a service), five whys, personas, experience analogy, and storyboards (visualization of how you would like things to occur).

For the reference staff, they are working on strategic planning about the roles and relationships of the librarians with faculty and collections.

Change takes time. When he proposed this topic, he expected to be further along than he is. Good communication, system thinking, and staff involvement are very important. There is a delicate balance between uncertainty/abstract with a desire for concrete.

Some unresolved issues include ereaders, purchasing rather than borrowing via ILL and the impact on their partner libraries, role of the catalog as an inventory in the world of PDA/PPV. The re-envisioning of the collection budget as a just in time resource. Stakeholder involvement and assessment wrap up the next steps portion of his talk.

Questions:
In moving print to the collection maintenance area, how are you handling bundled purchases (print + online)? How are you handling the impression of importance or lack thereof for staff who still work with traditional print collection management? Delicately.

Question about budgeting. Not planning to tie PDA/PPV to specific subjects. They plan to do an annual review of what was purchased and what might have been had they followed their old model.

How are they doing assessment criteria? Not yet, but will take suggestions. Need to tie activities to student academic success and teaching/researching on campus. Planning for a budget cut if they don’t get an increase to cover inflation. Planning to do some assessment of resource use.

What will you do if people can’t do their new jobs? Hopefully they will after the retraining. Will find a seat for them if they can’t do what we hope they can do.

What are you doing to organize the training so they don’t get mired in the transitional period? Met with staff to reassure them that the details will be worked out in the process. They prepared the ground a bit, and the staff are ready for change.

Question about the digital divide and how that will be addressed. Content is available on university equipment, so not really an issue/barrier.

What outreach/training to academic departments? Not much yet. Will honor print requests. Subject librarians will still have a consultative role, but not necessarily item by item selection.

ER&L 2012: Lightening Talks

Shellharbour; Lightening
photo by Steven

Due to a phone meeting, I spent the first 10 min snarfing down my lunch, so I missed the first presenters.

Jason Price: Libraries spend a lot of time trying to get accurate lists of the things we’re supposed to have access to. Publisher lists are marketing lists, and they don’t always include former titles. Do we even need these lists anymore? Should we be pushing harder to get them? Can we capture the loss from inaccurate access information and use that to make our case? Question: Isn’t it up to the link resolver vendors? No, they rely on the publishers/sources like we do. Question: Don’t you think something is wrong with the market when the publisher is so sure of sales that they don’t have to provide the information we want? Question: Haven’t we already done most of this work in OCLC, shouldn’t we use that?

Todd Carpenter: NISO recently launched the Open Discovery Initiative, which is trying to address the problems with indexed discovery services. How do you know what is being indexed in a discovery service? What do things like relevance ranking mean? What about the relationships between organizations that may impact ranking? The project is ongoing and expect to hear more in the fall (LITA, ALA Midwinter, and beyond).

Title change problem — uses xISSN service from OCLC to identify title changes through a Python script. If the data in OCLC isn’t good enough, and librarians are creating it, then how can we expect publishers to do better.

Dani Roach: Anyone seeing an unusual spike in use for 2011? Have you worked with them about it? Do you expect a resolution? They believe our users are doing group searches across the databases, even though we are sending them to specific databases, so they would need to actively choose to search more than one. Caution everyone to check their stats. And how is their explanation still COUNTER compliant.

Angel Black: Was given a mission at ER&L to find out what everyone is doing with OA journals, particularly those that come with traditional paid packages. They are manually adding links to MARC records, and use series fields (830) to keep track of them. But, not sure how to handle the OA stuff, particularly when you’re using a single record. Audience suggestion to use 856 subfield x. “Artesian, handcrafted serials cataloging”

Todd Carpenter part 2: How many of you think your patrons are having trouble finding the OA in a mixed access journal that is not exposed/labeled? KBs are at the journal or volume/issue level. About 1/3 of the room thinks it is a problem.

Has anyone developed their own local mobile app? Yes, there is a great way to do that, but more important to create a mobile-friendly website. PhoneGap will write an app for mobile OS that will wrap your web app in an app, and include some location services. Maybe look to include library in a university-wide app?

Adam Traub: Really into PPV/demand-driven. Some do an advance purchase model with tokens, and some of them will expire. Really wants to make it an unmediated process, but it opens up the library to increasing and spiraling costs. They went unmediated for a quarter, and the use skyrocketed. What’s a good way to do this without spending a ton of money? CCC’s Get It Now drives PPV usage through the link resolver. Another uses a note to indicate that the journal is being purchased by the library.

Kristin Martin: Temporarily had two discovery services, and they don’t know how to display this to users. Prime for some usability testing. Have results from both display side by side and let users “grade” them.

Michael Edwards: Part of a NE consortia, and thinks they should be able to come up with consortial pressure on vendors, and they’re basically telling them to take a leap. Are any of the smaller groups in pressuring vendors in making concessions to consortial acquisitions. Orbis-Cascade and Connect NY have both been doing good things for ebook pricing and reducing the multiplier for SU. Do some collection analysis on the joint borrowing/purchasing policies? The selectors will buy what they buy.

musings on web-scale discovery systems

photo by Pascal

My library is often on the forefront of innovation, having the advantage of a healthy budget and staff size, yet small enough to be nimble. Frequently, when my colleagues return from conferences and give their reports, they’ll conclude with something along the lines of “we’re already doing most of the things they talked about.” At a recent conference report session, that was repeated again, with one exception: we have not implemented a web-scale discovery system.

I’m of two minds about web-scale discovery systems. In theory, they’re pretty awesome, allowing users to discover all of the content available to them from the library, regardless of the source or format. But in reality, they’re hamstrung by exclusive deals and coding limitations. The initial buzz was that they caused a dramatic increase in the use of library resources, but a few years in, and I’m hearing conflicting reports and grumblings.

We held off on buying a web-scale discovery system for two main reasons: one, we didn’t have the funding secured, and two, most of the reference librarians felt indifferent to outright dislike towards the systems out there at the time. We’re now in the process of reviewing and evaluating the current systems available, after many discussions about which problems we are hoping they will solve.

In the end, they really aren’t “Google for Libraries.” We think that our users want a single search box, but do they really? I heard an anecdote about how the library had spent a lot of time teaching users where to find their web-scale discovery system, making sure it was visible on the main library page, etc. After a professor assigned the same students to find a known article (gave them the full citation) using the web-scale discovery system (called it by name), the most frequent question the library got was, “How do I google the <name of web-scale discovery system>?”

I wonder if the ROI really is significant enough to implement and promote a web-scale discovery system? These systems are not cheap, and they take a bit of labor to maintain them. And, frankly, if the battle over exclusive content continues to be waged, it won’t be easy to pick the best one for our collection/users and know that it will stay that way for more than six months or a year.

Does your library have a web-scale discovery system? Is it everything you thought it would be? Would you pick the same one if you had to choose again?

ALA Virtual 2011: Currents of Change and Innovation

Moderator: Ann Coder, Library Services Manager, Brookhaven College

Speaker: Linda McCann, Director of Library Services, Bucks County Community College

Probably had something interesting to say, but her phone connection was so awful I tuned it out. Plus, I hate the “let me tell you useless stats about my institution” portion that for some reason people think is important to include in every presentation about something they did at their library.

In summary, they got rid of formats and collections that are no longer needed and converted the space into a popular (and apparently award winning) learning commons.

 

Speaker: Denise Repman, Dean of Library Services, Delgado Community College

Oy. Sound not much better on this one. Maybe it’s ALA’s connection? In summary: something something something new library buildings.

 

Speaker:  Theresa C. Stanley, Library Director, Pima Community College

Still crappy sound. In summary: they had to reduce their collection by 30%, so they removed duplicates and content no longer relevant to their current programs. Kept notes in a wiki and used a shared calendar to schedule the project, which is probably a good idea.

VLACRL Spring 2011: Clay Shirky, Fantasy Football, and the Future of Library Collections

As we shift to a demand-driven collection development approach, we will better be able to provide content at the point of need.

Speaker: Greg Raschke

Raschke started off with several assumptions about the future of library collections. These should not be a surprise to anyone who’s been paying attention: The economics of our collections is not sustainable – the cost and spend has gone up over the years, but there is a ceiling to funding, so we need to lower the costs of the entire system. We’re at a tipping point where just in case no longer delivers at the point of need. We must change the way we collect, and it will be hard, but not impossible.

The old system of supply-side collection development assumes that we’re working with limited resources (i.e. print materials), so we have to buy everything just in case someone needs it 10 years down the road when the book/journal/whatever is out of print. As a result, we judge the quality of a collection by its size, rather than by its relevance to the users. All of this contributes to an inelastic demand for journals and speculative buying.

The new system of demand-driven collections views them as drivers of research and teaching. It’s not really a new concept so much as a new workflow. There’s less tolerance in investing in a low-use collection, so there is an increase in the importance of use data and modifying what we collect based on that use data. The risks of not evolving and failing to innovate can be seen in the fate of the newspapers, many of whom held onto the old systems for too long and are dying or becoming irrelevant as a result.

Demand-driven collection development can create a tension between the philosophy of librarians as custodians of scholarship and librarians as enablers of a digital environment for scholars. Some think that this type of collection development may result in lower unit costs, but the reality is that unless the traditions of tenure and promotion change, the costs of publishing scholarly works will not go down. One of the challenging/difficult aspects of demand-driven collection development is that we won’t be getting new funds to do it – we must free funds from other areas in order to invest in these new methods (i.e. local digital production and patron-driven acquisitions).

The rewards of adapting are well worth it. The more our constituencies use the library and its resources, the more vital we become. Look at your data, and then bet on the numbers. Put resources into enabling a digital environment for your scholars.

Demand-driven collection development is not just patron-driven acquisitions! It’s about becoming an advanced analyst and increasing the precision in collection development. For NCSU‘s journal review, they look at downloads, impact factors, publications by NCSU authors, publications that cite NCSU authors, and gather feedback from the community. These bibliometrics are processed through a variety of formulas to standardize them for comparison and to identify outliers.

For print resources, they pulled circulation and bibliographic information out of their ILS and dropped it into SAS to assess the use of these materials over time. It was eye-opening to see what subject areas saw circulation greater than one over 10 years from the year they were added to the collection and those that saw no circulations. As a result, they were able to identify funds that could go towards supporting other areas of the collection, and they modified the scopes of their approval profiles. [A stacked graph showing the use of their collection, such as print circulation, ejournals/books downloads, reserves, and ILL has been one of their most popular promotional tools.]

As we shift to a demand-driven collection development approach, we will better be able to provide content at the point of need. This includes incorporating more than just our local collections (i.e. adding HathiTrust and other free resources to our catalog). Look to fund patron-driven acquisitions that occur both in the ebook purchasing models and through ILL requests. Integrate electronic profiling with your approval plans so that you are not just looking at purchasing print. Consider ebook packages to lower the unit costs, and use short-term loans for ebooks as an alternative to ILL. Get content to users in the mode they want to consume it. Do less speculative buying, and move money into new areas. It is imperative that libraries/librarians collaborate with each other in digital curation, digital collections, and collective bargaining for purchases.

There are challenges, of course. You will encounter the CAVE people. Data-driven and user-driven approaches can punish niche areas, disciplinary variation, and resources without data. The applications and devices we use to interact with digital content are highly personalized, which is a challenge for standardizing access.

I asked Raschke to explain how he evaluates resources that don’t have use data, and he says he’s more likely to stop buying them. For some resources, he can look at proxy logs and whether they are being cited by authors at his institution, but otherwise there isn’t enough data beyond user feedback.

CIL 2011: In Pursuit of Library Elegance

Speaker: Erica Reynolds

Elegant solutions/designs are often invisible to the user. Observe what is happening, and look at what could be removed (distractions/barriers), rather than what needs to be added.

Simple rules create effective order. The more complexity in an equation, the more doubtful that it is true.

Another aspect of elegance is seduction. Limiting information creates intrigue. Libraries could play more on curiosity to draw users to information. Play hard to get, in a way. Don’t be so eager to dump information in response to user questions.

Restraint and removal can increase impact and value. Encourage people to use their brains. Why do we act like they are so stupid that they need signs everywhere in the library?

Limited resources spark creativity and innovation. The creative tension at the center of elegance: achieving the maximum effect with the minimum of effort.

The path to elegance begins with: resisting the urge to act; observe; ensure a diversity of opinions and expertise are heard; carve out time to think and not think; get away from your devices; get some sleep; and get outside.

Speaker: John Blyberg

The primary intent of our website may not be about getting you from point A to point B. It could be about building community and connection.

They found that when they removed the fortress that was the old reference desk, it was much more popular and approachable. Like Apple not including a manual with the iPhone, your library should be intuitive enough to use with minimal signage or instruction. Digital signage can evolve and be interactive, which will spark curiosity and inquiry.

HarperCollins & the future of ebooks in libraries

I’ve been thinking about the whole debacle over the past few days, and imagining what living models would work best for libraries, publishers, and authors. I am thinking specifically of popular works, as they are a different breed and have different uses than academic works.

The problem is that we keep trying to treat ebooks like they are the same kind of scarce as paper books. They aren’t the same thing at all. The scarcity is manufactured, and unnecessarily so.

I think the best solution for popular ebooks and libraries is a subscription or lease model. Give libraries unlimited simultaneous access to ebooks. Let the libraries regulate who can access them. Charge a flat rate or per use rate or whatever will make a profit on the whole without breaking library budgets.

I realize that authors are paid based on how many volumes sold, and I will leave it up to the lawyers to determine how many subscription uses are equivalent to a sale.

The benefit to libraries is that as the popularity of titles wane, they aren’t stuck with a bunch of unwanted ebooks. The benefit for publishers is that their entire catalog, front and back, is readily available to readers, lengthening the long tail of sales.

And that’s the aspect of library books that isn’t given as much weight as it should. Granted, I am a book person, so perhaps my experience is skewed. However, there a several series and authors that I collect in hardcover now that I was introduced to through my library. I am a cheap reader, so buying in hardcover is something I reserve only for things I really enjoy and plan to hold onto for a long time. I’m not going to buy a hardcover of something unknown, particularly not at list price. I think too often publishers don’t take advantage of the marketing opportunities that libraries provide.

Edited: Wrong publisher. D’oh.

ER&L: Toward the Digital Public Library of America

Speaker: Amanda French

Korea has a national digital library that recently opened a physical space in Seoul. It is not small or inexpensive, and contains a large collection. They are digitizing books, and have more than what is available in Netlibrary. The equipment in the building is high tech and varied, with multiple purposes in use. You can see photos of this on Flickr.

This is not about the wow factor. This is about providing information and resources to the citizens of Korea. They changed laws to allow the di-brarians to collect as much as they can from everywhere.

There is some talk of building a national digital library in the US, but only in a virtual sense. It started from a classical/Jeffersonian perspective, but public librarians have gotten involved, and the scope has widened.

The library is a public good and should be municipally supported, but this concept is relatively new in US history. However, recent financial woes have caused these entities to reduce or remove funding. In one town, the public checked out every book in the building to protest the closing of the library.

The biggest barrier to creating a national digital library in the Us is copyright laws. Korea was willing to change laws, but is our government? Do we have the funding to pay for enough lobbyists?

The text of this talk is available on her blog. This is just my paraphrase of the points she made.