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?

NASIG 2013: From Print to Online — Revamping Technical Services with Distributed and Centralized Workflow Models

“5D” by Mark Sebastian

Speaker: Kari Schmidt, American University

Began in 2008 after a new director and consultant group came in and recommended a reorganization. They had some trouble deciding which larger group electronic resource management should be a part of, and ended up on Information Delivery Services, which includes Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Access Services. The ERM unit used to include acquisitions, cataloging, and a service point. By moving the cataloging functions out (and closing the service point), the group could then focus on access and discovery systems (eresource management, licensing). During the same time, they also moved a huge chunk of bound journal volumes to storage to create student spaces.

Focused on moving away from redundancy across different systems, and moving towards cloud-based unified knowledgebases that populated all user interfaces.

Most serials are now electronic, and they are increasingly being tasked to acquire new forms of eresources. Needed to change some workflow models to incorporate ebook acquisitions and management, for example. They are now starting to work more with Acquisitions and Cataloging for those workflows. Large data sets will be the next challenge.

Focusing more on discovery access and assessment, which had been on the back burner. This requires shifting more of the workflow out of the unit.

Training and skill building in ERM techniques include: ERM “class” to orient to role in the library, trouble-shooting access issues, e-resource forums for other tech services staff taught by members of the ERM unit, vendor training sessions, cross-training within the unit, annual evaluation of responsibilities to determine what could be delegated to a specialist (make sure they are interested in it and it is appropriate for them to do), project prioritization, and relevant committee service.

Cataloging has been overwhelmed with legacy print projects, so incorporating ERM work has been challenging. Acquisitions staffing has been disproportionately weighted towards print, so moving more of the ebook process in is a solution and a challenge. Training circ/service point staff to handle basic questions about eresource access issues.

They are using CORAL resources module for tracking ebook workflows.

[Would really like to have a session like this focus on examples more than challenges and things they still need to do. I want to know job descriptions/responsibilities and examples of workflows for different resources.]


Speaker: Christine Korytnyk Dulaney, American University

Staff didn’t talk to each other about work, so they had to make some changes in communication and give them a broader view of the workflow (i.e. how each thing impacted another). They used some project management techniques to begin this process, and it helped them finish the project where they have a history of not doing so. The fundamental concepts of PM can be scaled down to any kind of project. [The presenter goes into this, but you probably have lots of books in your library that covers it.] One advantage of PM is that it focuses on the work and diffuses the emotion that can come from making changes.

ER&L 2013: Courage of Our Connections

“Hanging On” by Nic C

Speaker: Rachel Frick, Digital Library Federation

Sees herself as a community builder for the greater benefit of the profession as a whole.

There is a lot going on in libraries, and it can be overwhelming. At the same time, it’s an exciting time to be a librarian. If we embrace the challenge of the change and see the opportunities, we will be okay.

We are at “the incunabula period of the digital age.” -T. Scott Plutchak

The network changes everything. See also: Networked by Lee Raine & Barry Wellman

This can be good, or it can be bad (see also: Google Buzz). We have the opportunity to reach beyond our home institutions to have a broader impact.

Data has many different facets. We are talking about data-driven decision making, research data, data curation, linked (open) data, and library collections as data.

When we started digitizing our collections, we had a very library/museum portal view that was very proscribed. The DPLA wanted to avoid this, letting folks pull data through APIs and display it however they want. When we start freeing our stuff from the containers, we start seeing some new research questions and scholarship.

“Local collections are the dark matter of a linked data world.” -Susan Hildreth, Director of IMLS

Catalog and pay attention to the unique things that are at your institution. We need original catalogers back. This is the golden age for catalogers. We need to reinvent the way we process the hard and difficult things to describe. It’s about the services, not the stuff.

If the car was developed in the library, it would have been called the e-horse. Please don’t hire a data curation librarian or eresearch librarian or … data and local content is everyone’s job. The silos have to come down in our services, too. By silo-ing off the jobs, we’re not harnessing the power of the network.

Print-based societies needed the buildings, but in the digital society, it’s more about the connections. We should talk about what librarians do, not what libraries do. Do we want to serve our buildings or serve our communities? We cannot allow the care and feeding of our buildings to define us. The mission is what defines us.

Our mission is greater than our job. “Our mission is to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities.” (R. David Lankes) If this isn’t why you show up every day, then maybe it’s time to reassess your life and career choice.

We are a community, with permeable borders, and room at the table for everyone. But, this causes a lot of fear and anxiety, and can raise the spectre of the snark. This is detrimental to open community development.

Snark: “I really wish the DPLA would do ___.”
Frick: “The DPLA is you! Show up!”

If we come with our 10lb hammer to smack down every new idea, we will not be able to move forward.

Vulnerability is “the courage to show up and allow ourselves to be seen.” (Dr. Brene Brown) Be open to feedback — it is a function of respect. Admitting a vulnerability builds strength and trust, and a culture of shared struggle/experience.

We need to hang out with not the usual suspects. If this is the 10th time in a row that you’ve attended a particular conference, maybe you need to try something new. We need to think of librarianship outside of our normal communities.

The hacker epistemology says to adopt a problem-solving mindset, and the truth is what works. Our “always” of doing things will not translate to the networked world. The #ideadrop house was a wild success. People wanted to share their ideas with librarians!

Jason Griffey created the library boxes — small hard drives with wifi capability that allow anyone to access and download the content. They put them everywhere at SXSW — pedicabs, volunteers carrying them around, etc.

How do you communicate your ideas to people outside of your community?

In this world of networked individualism, our success is up to us. We have to have a personal responsibility to the longevity and success of our profession. This golden moment for librarianship is brief, so we have to act now. Be engaged. Be there.

How do you lead? Leadership is not being an AUL or head of a department. We lead by example, no matter where you are.

The stuff that’s easy to count really isn’t important. We need to have a national holiday from performance metrics.

Dare a little. Be more open. Take more risks, even if they’re small. Be easy on yourself.

ER&L 2013: Overcoming Librarian Resistance to Adopting Discovery Tools — A Focus on Information Literacy Opportunities

“X-Factor” by Andy Rennie

Speaker: Stefanie Buck (Oregon State University)

It’s safe to say that discovery products have not received a positive response from the librarians who are expected to use them. We always talk about the users, and we forget that librarians are users, and are probably in them more than the typical freshman. They are new, and new things can be scary.

OSU has Summon, which they brought up in 2010. She thinks that even though this is mostly about her experience with Summon, it can be applied to other discovery tools and libraries. They had a federated search from 2003-2010, but toward the latter years, librarians had stopped teaching it, so when discovery services came along, they went that way.

Initially, librarians had a negative view of the one search box because of their negative experience with federated searching. Through the process of the implementation, they gathered feedback from the librarians, and the librarians were hopeful that this might live up to the promise that federated search did not. They also surveyed librarians outside of OSU, and found a broad range from love it to not over my dead body, but most lived in the middle, where it depended on the context.

Most librarians think they will use a discovery tool in teaching lower division undergraduates, but it depends if it’s appropriate or not. The promise of a discovery tool is that librarians don’t have to spend so much time teaching different tools, so they could spend more time talking about evaluating sources and the iterative process of research. Some think they actually will do that, but for now, they have simply added the discovery tool to the mix.

Participation in the implementation process is key for getting folks on board. When librarians are told “you must,” it doesn’t go over very well. Providing training and instruction is essential. There might be some negative feedback from the students until they get used to it, and librarians need to be prepared for that. Librarians need to understand how it works and where the limitations fall. Don’t underestimate the abilities of librarians to work around you.

These tools are always changing. Make sure that folks know that it has improved if they don’t like it at first. Make fun (and useful) tools, and that the librarians know how to create scoped tools that they can use for specific courses. If you have a “not over my dead body,” team teaching might be a good approach to show them that it could be useful.

Speaker: Leslie Moyo & Tracy Gilmore (Virginia Tech)

Initially there were mixed perceptions, but more are starting to incorporate it into their instruction. With so many products out there, we really need to move away from teaching all of them and spending more time on good research/search skills.

Students “get” discovery services faster if it is introduced as the Google of library stuff.

Move away from teaching sources and towards teaching the process. Enhance the power of boolean searching with faceted searching. Shift from deliberate format searching (book, article, etc.) toward mixed format results that are most relevant to the search.