a values conundrum

Scales
photo by Charles Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

‘Tis the season when I spend a lot of time gathering and consolidating usage reports for the previous calendar year (though next year not as many if my SUSHI experiment goes well). Today, as I was checking and organizing some of the reports I had retrieved last week, I noticed a journal that had very little use in the 2017 YOP (or 2016, for that matter), so I decided to look into it a bit more.

The title has a one year embargo and then the articles are open access. Our usage is very low (average 3.6 downloads per year) and most of it, according to the JR5 and JR1 GOA for confirmation, is coming from the open access portion, not the closed access we pay for.

The values conundrum I have is multifaceted. This is a small society publisher, and we have only the one title from them. They are making the content open access after one year, and I don’t think they are making authors pay for this, though I could be wrong. These are market choices I want to support. And yet….

How do I demonstrate fiscal responsibility when we are paying ~$300/download? Has the research and teaching shifted such that this title is no longer needed and that’s why usage is so low? Is this such a seminal title we would keep it regardless of whether it’s being used?

Collection development decisions are not easy when there are conflicting values.

Charleston 2014 – Reinforcing the Role of the Library: Communicating Value, Increasing Access and Knowledge

Speaker: Elliot Hermann, Nature

Libraries use a lot of statistical data to determine the value of their content. You know how it goes.

University of Utah and Nature worked out a pilot with ReadCube to provide rental article access. $2.99 for read-only for 48 hrs, $7.99 for purchase and available. In the end, this was a better value for the library for high demand titles that are not used enough to justify purchase/subscription.

How can publishers and librarians work together to determine and establish value? Publishers are trying to do more analytics beyond cost per download. Cost per citation, local citations, author submissions/affiliations, access denials, altmetrics – ultimately some sort of customized solution.

 

Speaker: Jill Emery, Portland State University

Collaboration, Content, Connection

PSU could not exist without the Orbis-Cascade Alliance, their consortia.

Librarians and publishers are complimentary. We are both invested in the success of authored content, and we agree that quality academic content carries a cost.

In consortium we are able to do things that we could not do individually, unless we are at the 800lb gorilla libraries. OCA did a DDA with EBL via YBP. They spent a lot of time figuring out who would work with them and how it would be set up. It was understood from the outset that it was a pilot project for all of them, and at some point things might change. So, last year when the STL prices went up, it wasn’t a surprise to them. What ended up being complicated was the communication.

It wasn’t a real loss for the publishers. They gained markets they wouldn’t have had. The other outcome was the proof that this could be done across multiple organizations to some success.

There is an agreement that quality academic content carries a cost, but the issue is the price point. The profit reports coming from the commercial STM publishers makes librarians uncomfortable with continuing to invest their collections funds in that market.

Librarians help add context to quality content. Librarians expand on the metadata of the quality academic content. Librarians and publishers partner to make sure standards are employed.

Publishers and librarians are enmeshed in the scholarly communication network. We need to continue to experiment and move forward, but in a way that is affordable for all of us, without negatively impacting the quality of the work.

 

Speaker: Maggie Farrell, University of Wyoming

Universities are under pressure to graduate students in four years with marketable degrees. They are under pressure to do research in areas relevant to local interests. They are under pressure to collect materials in those areas and be repositories for the research done.

She would like to link metrics to collection purchases, collection impact, value, and university pressures.

Charleston 2014 – Being Earnest in the New Normal

Speaker: Anthea Stratigos, Outsell

Library budgets on average are increasing at around 3%. The publishers are fighting over the same dollars, because this is not enough growth for the needs of their business. Librarians are asking them to demonstrate the value publishers are providing.

To demonstrate value, you need to have the right team, and each member needs to know and stick to their role.

Start by having a strategy. If you don’t have a strategic plan or mission, you don’t know where you’re going nor what you’ll need to get there. Strategies aren’t fixed in stone — they must adapt as institutions change.

Understand your target markets. Who are you serving? How do they intersect? Do they intersect? When you understand who you are serving, you can better plan those services.

Understand what users want. 78% of students surveyed use the physical library daily or weekly. 44% use the digital collection. Studies have also shown that students and professors are more tied to print than we think, particularly with textbooks. However, this may not be true for your market. You need to survey your own folks to determine what their interests are.

Benchmark — there’s always something better to aspire to.

Once you understand your markets, assesed their needs, and benchmarked, then it is time to establish your portfolio. You’ll know what to add, what to drop, what to ask for money for, and what to target to whom.

Then, it’s time to brand your experience. If the library as a quite place to study is most important to your students, do you advertise that?

Engage with your community in meaningful ways to market the things that matter to them.

Deliver wow. Surprise your users. Have actionable deliverables when users ask for research assistance, particularly at the executive level, and not just pages of search results.

Measure ROI and value. Make use of your business students and give them experience doing the research in this area. Usage statistics don’t measure value, they measure volume. Tie what is happening in the library to the institution’s goals — focus on those outcomes and what role you play in that.

Be sure to play and enjoy the results of your work.

Choose your future — will it be Dewey Readmore Books or 22 Jump Street? Will it be a mascot that defines your library culture, or will it be drug trade ring using the dusty books of the library archive as the transfer point? A great library doesn’t have to have the best/newest things, it just has to transparently provide what its community needs.

NASIG 2013: The Value of Serials in Academic & Special Libraries

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 2013-06-10
“Xwi7xwa Library Interior 4” by UBC Library

Speaker: Megan Oakleaf

She had written a report for ACRL on the value of academic libraries, so this will be a take off on that as it relates to serials in libraries.

There has been a shift in the literature from talking about the stuff/products/collection to the service we provide to help our users do things with the stuff.

What is value in the context of serials? Some people equate the value of the serials collection to the level of satisfaction of the users. This is not a compelling metric in times of economic uncertainty. Another measure of value might be service quality, but the data from LibQual doesn’t get at it very well. What about input/output? We’re pretty good at counting volumes/titles, but this also not compelling.

Usage just tells us that a lot of people downloaded a lot of things, and not much more than that — certainly not what they did with it, if anything. Information as a commodity (i.e. users would have to spend $$ to get the content we provide) or ROI still doesn’t get at the real value of the information to the users, and getting to that number doesn’t really tell you how much users would spend if they had to.

Right now, impact is the trendy measure of value. It’s about how much good the users do with the serials collection that your institution values, rather than how good of a collection you have.

The context for value matters. It might be the institutional or organizational mission, goals, strategic priorities, or focus areas.

Higher education values student recruitment/enrollment, student learning outcomes, retention/completion, and career success. Where do serials contribute? Academic success, yes, but the volume count given by tour guides doesn’t impress. Journal articles in required reading and papers, and one way to measure the value would be the dollar amount of the reading/reserve lists. Alumni access is becoming more popular as graduates recognize the value of library resources after they complete their degree.

Higher education is also concerned with faculty recruitment, tenure, promotion, teaching, and grants/patents. ILL and delivery service is important — Oakleaf says she won’t go anywhere else without finding out about that first. Make sure the faculty hiring process includes some time at the library. With tenure and promotion, serials librarians can play a role in helping junior faculty determine where to submit articles and how to find citations. We need to articulate the connection between faculty output and library resources.

Higher education is concerned with institutional prestige and local & global workforce development. Libraries are the main draw for local economic forces, and providing access to walk-in users can show value.

Serials collections can save time and have an impact on the bottom line. In the medical environment, serials collections can save lives and provide patients with valuable information to help them maintain and improve their own health.

What are the focus areas of your institution? Where do serials intersect? How do you communicate that value to the people for whom it matters?

We need better data about use. We need to know more than what we have now. We need to correlate usage to GPA, but we can’t do that until we know more about who is using the content. And, no, we can’t prove causation.

We need use data that doesn’t exist. We need to know at what use should be there based on needs/requirements, but isn’t.

What does your communication about the value of serials look like? What concept of value is it based on? Even better, can you show that this will increase the things that your institution values?

IL 2012: The Next Big Thing

Moving on
“Moving on” by Craig Allen

Speaker: Dave Hesse & Brian Pichman

They used a Lazer Tag like system to set up “Hunger Games” nights in the library. They also used a bunch of interactive tech toys for different kinds of game nights.

They’re mounting tables as shelf labels that show the range in sleep mode, but when activated will display reviews and other information about books in the range, as well as other interactive multimedia.

Speaker: Sarah Houghton

Cutting stuff. Cutting lots of things out of the budget, services, etc. All of these things we learn about take time and money, and we can’t do all of them. She’s making everyone in her library earn their pet program. It has to show some sort of ROI (not specifically financial). Make business decisions about what we do and why.

Q: What did you cut that you didn’t want to?
A: Magnatune deal — really wanted to do it, but didn’t have the staff time and a negative amount of money to dedicate to anything.

Speaker: Ben Bizzle

We are doing a really poor job of marketing ourselves to our communities, and we’re wasting money on old methods and tools to do it. There are more cost-effective ways to do this, particularly for public libraries. Facebook is a really cost-effective way to market to your community over and over again, and running ads to get people in your community to like your Facebook page has been shown to be very effective. Be part of the stream without being disruptive. Facebook events invitations are disruptive and ineffective.

Next big things from the audience:

  • Would like to have a better way to provide remote authentication for users from anywhere, regardless of the speed of the connection (i.e. 3G mobile phone or a hotel wireless connection).
  • Focusing on programming that brings the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking communities together.
  • Integrating local self-published creators’ content within the rest of the library’s electronic content.
  • Trying to find better metrics to measure success for ROI.
  • Developing community investors from FOL and active volunteers.
  • Giving up paper flyers/posters and moving to digital.
  • Moving social media effort to marketing department.
  • Looking at duplicate efforts and winnowing them down.
  • Learning how to code.
  • Hiring part-time and hiring non-librarians.
  • FRBR. RDA. Say no more.
  • Advocacy. Facetime with politicians and other sources of funding.
  • Would like to hear more from public libraries on ‘bring your own device’ initiatives that could be applied in the academic library setting.
  • Gamification of library resources and services.
  • Wikipedia – we should be creating more content there.
  • Better relationships with publishers.
  • The next level of life-long learning like Coursera and making the library a hub for it.
  • Downloadble database of music by local musicians.
  • Copyright, curations, folksonomies, and other issues of creating communities.
  • Podcasting.
  • Digitization projects that engage specific communities.
  • Keeping my head above water. Migrating to a more self-service model while maintaining a high level of service.
  • Moving to a new ILS. Proprietary or open source?
  • Reaching out to atypical non-users. Running ads in local for sale magazines.
  • Lock-in gaming nights.