IL 2012: Discovery Systems

Space Shuttle Discovery Landing At Washington DC
“Space Shuttle Discovery Landing At Washington DC” by Glyn Lowe

Speaker: Bob Fernekes

The Gang of Four: Google, Apple, Amazon, & Facebook

Google tends to acquire companies to grow the capabilities of it. We all know about Apple. Amazon sells more ebooks than print books now. Facebook is… yeah. That.

And then we jump to selecting a discovery service. You would do that in order to make the best use of the licensed content. This guy’s library did a soft launch in the past year of the discovery service they chose, and it’s had an impact on the instruction and tools (i.e. search boxes) he uses.

And I kind of lost track of what he was talking about, in part because he jumped from one thing to the next, without much of a transition or connection. I think there was something about usability studies after they implemented it, although they seemed to focus on more than just the discovery service.

Speaker: Alison Steinberg Gurganus

Why choose a discovery system? You probably already know. Students lack search skills, but they know how to search, so we need to give them something that will help them navigate the proprietary stuff we offer out on the web.

The problem with the discovery systems is that they are very proprietary. They don’t quite play fairly or nicely with competitor’s content yet.

Our users need to be able to evaluate, but they also need to find the stuff in the first place. A great discovery service should be self-explanatory, but we don’t have that yet.

We have students who understand Google, which connects them to all the information and media they want. We need something like that for our library resources.

When they were implementing the discovery tool, they wanted to make incremental changes to the website to direct users to it. They went from two columns, with the left column being text links to categories of library resources and services, to three columns, with the discover search box in the middle column.

When they were customizing the look of the discovery search results, they changed the titles of items to red (from blue). She notes that users tend to ignore the outside columns because that’s where Google puts advertisements, so they are looking at ways to make that information more visible.

I also get the impression that she doesn’t really understand how a discovery service works or what it’s supposed to do.

Speaker: Athena Hoeppner

Hypothesis: discovery includes sufficient content of high enough quality, with full text, and …. (didn’t type fast enough).

Looked at final papers from a PhD level course (34), specifically the methodology section and bibliography. Searched for each item in the discovery search as well as one general aggregator database and two subject-specific databases. The works cited were predominately articles, with a significant number of web sources that were not available through library resources. She was able to find more citations in the discovery search than in Google Scholar or any of the other library databases.

Clearly the discovery search was sufficient for finding the content they needed. Then they used a satisfaction survey of the same students that covered familiarity and frequency of use for the subject indexes, discovery search, and Google Scholar. Ultimately, it came down that the students were satisfied and happy with the subject indexes, and too few respondents to get a sense of satisfaction with the discovery search or Google Scholar.

Conclusions: Students are unfamiliar with the discovery system, but it could support their research needs. However, we don’t know if they can find the things they are looking for in it (search skills), nor do we know if they will ultimately be happy with it.

EBSCO & H.W. Wilson & Economist

Last week, EBSCO Publishing and the H.W. Wilson Company announced a merger of the two, ostensibly with Wilson being consumed by the behemoth that is EBSCO. Frankly, I’m not surprised. Several years ago when Wilson pulled their indexes out of the aggregators to create and market their own databases on their own platform, I knew it would either save the company or be their downfall.

I don’t know the details of what went into the acquisition, but I do know that WilsonWeb was a half-baked product when it went to market, and in my not-so-humble opinion, it hasn’t significantly improved over the years. The best thing for libraries and researchers would be to move the high quality Wilson indexes onto a modern aggregator database search platform that I won’t be embarrassed to put out there for our users.

In other EBSCO news, they sent out a press release this week regarding The Economist and their bid for a semi-exclusive contract. EBSCO declined the offer, so as of June 30th next year, the full-text coverage of The Economist will be removed and only abstract/index content will remain in EBSCO’s products. I suspect that more big name publications may try to do the same, and this concerns me slightly.

My main issue with full-text of The Economist not being in our EBSCO databases in the future is not so much that I want it there as it is I want it available electronically. Currently, The Economist does not offer an institutional subscription or any sort of IP-based access for their online platform. We do not subscribe to or have plans to subscribe to the resources that will supposedly continue to have full-text content from The Economist, so I hope that they get their act together and start providing institutional subscriptions.

Kind of ironic that just a few weeks ago The Economist published an article that tut-tutted academic publishers for being too mercenary in their pricing structures. Maybe they’re just jealous they didn’t think of it first?

CIL 2011: EBook Publishing – Practices & Challenges

Speaker: Ken Breen (EBSCO)

In 1997, ebooks were on CD-ROM and came with large paper books to explain how to use them, along with the same concerns about platforms we have today.

Current sales models involve purchase by individual libraries or consortia, patron-driven acquisition models, and subscriptions. Most of this presentation is a sales pitch for EBSCO and nothing you don’t already know.

Speaker: Leslie Lees (ebrary)

Ebrary was founded a year after NetLibrary and was acquired by ProQuest last year. They have similar models, with one slight difference: short term loans, which will be available later this spring.

With no longer a need to acquire books because they may be hard to get later, do we need to be building collections, or can we move to an on-demand model?

He thinks that platforms will move towards focusing more on access needs than on reselling content.

Speaker: Bob Nardini (Coutts)

They are working with a variety of incoming files and outputting them in any format needed by the distributors they work with, both ebook and print on demand.

A recent study found that academic libraries have significant number of overlap with their ebook and print collections.

They are working on approval plans for print and ebooks. The timing of the releases of each format can complicate things, and he thinks their model mediates that better. They are also working on interlibrary loan of ebooks and local POD.

Because they work primarily with academic libraries, they are interested in models for archiving ebooks. They are also looking into download models.

Speaker: Mike (OverDrive)

He sees the company as an advocate for libraries. Promises that there will be more DRM-free books and options for self-published authors. He recommends their resource for sharing best practices among librarians.

Questions:

What is going on with DRM and ebooks? What mechanism does your products use?

Adobe Digital Editions is the main mechanism for OverDrive. Policies are set by the publishers, so all they can do is advocate for libraries. Ebrary and NetLibrary have proprietary software to manage DRM. Publishers are willing to give DRM-free access, but not consistently, and not for their “best” content.

It is hard to get content onto devices. Can you agree on a single standard content format?

No response, except to ask if they can set prices, too.

Adobe became the de facto solutions, but it doesn’t work with all devices. Should we be looking for a better solution?

That’s why some of them are working on their own platforms and formats. ePub has helped the growth of ebook publishing, and may be the direction.

Public libraries need full support for these platforms – can you do that?

They try the best they can. OverDrive offers secondary support. They are working on front-line tech support and hope to offer it soon.

Do publishers work with all platforms or are there exclusive arrangements?

It varies.

Do you offer more than 10 pages at a time for downloads of purchased titles?

Ebrary tries to do it at the chapter level, and the same is probably true of the rest. EBSCO is asking for the right to print up to 60 pages at a time.

When will we be able to loan ebooks?

Coutts is working on ILL.

Delicious is still tasty to me

I can’t help feeling disappointed in how quickly folks jumped ship and stayed on the raft even when it became clear that it was just a leaky faucet and not a hole in the hull.

I’ve been seeing many of my friends and peers jump ship and move their social/online bookmarks to other services (both free and paid) since the Yahoo leak about Delicious being in the sun-setting category of products. Given the volume of outcry over this, I was pretty confident that either Yahoo would change their minds or someone would buy Delicious or someone would replicate Delicious. So, I didn’t worry. I didn’t freak out. I haven’t even made a backup of my bookmarks, although I plan to do that soon just because it’s good to have backups of data.

Now the word is that Delicious will be sold, which is probably for the best. Yahoo certainly didn’t do much with it after they acquired it some years ago. But, honestly, I’m pretty happy with the features Delicious has now, so really don’t care that it hasn’t changed much. However, I do want it to go to someone who will take care of it and continue to provide it to users, whether it remains free or becomes a paid service.

I looked at the other bookmark services out there, and in particular those recommended by Lifehacker. Frankly, I was unimpressed. I’m not going to pay for a service that isn’t as good as Delicious, and I’m not going to use a bookmarking service that isn’t integrated into my browser. I didn’t have much use for Delicious until the Firefox extension, and now it’s so easy to bookmark and tag things on the fly that I use it quite frequently as a universal capture tool for websites and gift/diy ideas.

The technorati are a fickle bunch. I get that. But I can’t help feeling disappointed in how quickly they jumped ship and stayed on the raft even when it became clear that it was just a leaky faucet and not a hole in the hull.

NASIG 2010: It’s Time to Join Forces: New Approaches and Models that Support Sustainable Scholarship

Presenters: David Fritsch, JSTOR and Rachel Lee, University of California Press

JSTOR has started working with several university press and other small scholarly publishers to develop sustainable options.

UC Press is one of the largest university press in the US (36 journals in the humanities, biological & social sciences), publishing both UC titles and society titles. Their prices range from $97-422 for annual subscriptions, and they are SHERPA Green. One of the challenges they face on their own platform is keeping up with libraries expectations.

ITHAKA is a merger of JSTOR, ITHAKA, Portico, and Alkula, so JSTOR is now a service rather than a separate company. Most everyone here knows what the JSTOR product/service is, and that hasn’t changed much with the merger.

Scholar’s use of information is moving online, and if it’s not online, they’ll use a different resource, even if it’s not as good. And, if things aren’t discoverable by Google, they are often overlooked. More complex content is emerging, including multimedia and user-generated content. Mergers and acquisitions in publishing are consolidating content under a few umbrellas, and this threatens smaller publishers and university presses that can’t keep up with the costs on a smaller scale.

The serials crisis has impacted smaller presses more than larger ones. Despite good relationships with societies, it is difficult to retain popular society publications when larger publishers can offer them more. It’s also harder to offer the deep discounts expected by libraries in consortial arrangements. University presses and small publishers are in danger of becoming the publisher of last resort.

UC Press and JSTOR have had a long relationship, with JSTOR providing long-term archiving that UC Press could not have afforded to maintain on their own. Not all of the titles are included (only 22), but they are the most popular. They’ve also participated in Portico. JSTOR is also partnering with 18 other publishers that are mission-driven rather than profit-driven, with experience at balancing the needs of academia and publishing.

By partnering with JSTOR for their new content, UC Press will be able to take advantage of the expanded digital platform, sales teams, customer service, and seamless access to both archive and current content. There are some risks, including the potential loss of identity, autonomy, and direct communication with libraries. And then there is the bureaucracy of working within a larger company.

The Current Scholarship Program seeks to provide a solution to the problems outlined above that university presses and small scholarly publishers are facing. The shared technology platform, Portico preservation, sustainable business model, and administrative services potentially free up these small publishers to focus on generating high-quality content and furthering their scholarly communication missions.

Libraries will be able to purchase current subscriptions either through their agents or JSTOR (who will not be charging a service fee). However, archive content will be purchased directly from JSTOR. JSTOR will handle all of the licensing, and current JSTOR subscribers will simply have a rider adding title to their existing licenses. For libraries that purchase JSTOR collections through consortia arrangements, it will be possible to add title by title subscriptions without going through the consortia if a consortia agreement doesn’t make sense for purchase decisions. They will be offering both single-title purchases and collections, with the latter being more useful for large libraries, consortia, and those who want current content for titles in their JSTOR collections.

They still don’t know what they will do about post-cancellation access. Big red flag here for potential early adopters, but hopefully this will be sorted out before the program really kicks in.

Benefits for libraries: reasonable pricing, more efficient discovery, single license, and meaningful COUNTER-compliant statistics for the full run of a title. Renewal subscriptions will maintain access to what they have already, and new subscriptions will come with access to the first online year provided by the publisher, which may not be volume one, but certainly as comprehensive as what most publishers offer now.

UC Press plans to start transitioning in January 2011. New orders, claims, etc. will be handled by JSTOR (including print subscriptions), but UC Press will be setting their own prices. Their platform, Caliber, will remain open until June 30, 2011, but after that content will be only on the JSTOR platform. UC Press expects to move to online-only in the next few years, particularly as the number of print subscriptions are dwindling to the point where it is cost-prohibitive to produce the print issues.

There is some interest from the publishers to add monographic content as well, but JSTOR isn’t ready to do that yet. They will need to develop some significant infrastructure in order to handle the order processing of monographs.

Some in the audience are concerned that the cost of developing platform enhancements and other tools, mostly that these costs will be passed on in subscription prices. They will be, to a certain extent, only in that the publishers will be contributing to the developments and they set the prices, but because it is a shared system, the costs will be spread out and likely impact libraries no more than they have already.

One big challenge all will face is unlearning the mindset that JSTOR is only archive content and not current content.