ER&L 2014 — Building the Eresources Team: the MIT Libraries Experience

“DC Hero Minifigs (most of them)” by Julian Fong

Speaker: Kim Maxwell

Goal is to be more of a dialogue than a monologue.

In 2011, they were a traditional acquisitions and cataloging department. They had 18.1 FTE in technical services, with 8 acquisitions people working on both print and electronic, and 5 in cataloging. It felt very fragmented.

They were getting more eresources but no new staff. Less print, but staff weren’t interchangeable. The hybrid positions weren’t working well, and print was still seen as a priority by some of the staff. They could see the backlogs and made it seem like they had to deal with them first.

They hired consultants and decided to create two format-based teams: tangible formats and electronic resources. They defined the new positions and asked staff for their preferences, and then assigned staff to one team or the other. The team leads are focused on cataloging side and acquisition side, rather than by format.

To implement this they: oriented and trained staff; created workflow teams for ejournals, ebooks, and databases; talked with staff extensively; tried to be as transparent as possible; and hired another librarian.

They increased the FTE working on eresources, and they could use more, but this is good enough for now.

Some of the challenges include: staff buy-in and morale; communicating who does what to all the points of contact; workflows for orders with dual formats; budget structure (monographs/serials, with some simplification where possible, but still not tangible/electronic); and documentation organization (documenting isn’t a problem — find it is).

The benefits are: staff focusing on a single format; bringing acquisitions and cataloging together (better communication between functions); easier cross-training opportunities; workflows streamlined easier; and ease in planning and priorities.

Charleston 2012: EWWW!: Electronic Resources in the 21st Century (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying about the Catalog and Love the MARC Records Service)

15/52 : Titanic by Eric Constantineau
“15/52 : Titanic” by Eric Constantineau

Speakers: Ladd Brown, Andi Ogier, and Annette Bailey, Virginia Tech

Libraries are not about the collections anymore, they’re about space. The library is a place to connect to the university community. We are aggressively de-selecting, buying digital backfiles in the humanities to clear out the print collections.

Guess what? We still have our legacy workflows. They were built for processing physical items. Then eresources came along, and there were two parallel processes. Ebooks have the potential of becoming a third process.

Along with the legacy workflows, they have a new Dean, who is forward thinking. The Dean says it’s time to rip off the bandaid. (Titanic = old workflow; iceberg = eresources; people in life boats = technical resources team) Strategic plans are living documents kept on top of the desk and not in the drawer.

With all of this in mind, acquisitions leaders began meeting daily in a group called Eresources Workflow Weekly Work, planning the changes they needed to make. They did process mapping with sharpies, post-its, and incorporated everyone in the library that had anything to do with eresources. After lots of meetings, position descriptions began to emerge.

Electronic Resource Supervisor is the title of the former book and serials acquisitions heads. The rest — wasn’t clear from the description.

They had a MARC record service for ejournals, but after this reorganization process, they realized they needed the same for ebooks, and could be handled by the same folks.

Two person teams were formed based on who did what in the former parallel processes, and they reconfigured their workspace to make this more functional. The team cubes are together, and they have open collaboration spaces for other groupings.

They shifted focus from maintaining MARC records in their ILS to maintaining accurate title lists and data in their ERMS. They’re letting the data from the ERMS populate the ILS with appropriate MARC records.

They use some Python scripts to help move data from system to system, and more staff are being trained to support it. They’re also using the Google Apps portal for collaborative projects.

They wanted to take risks, make mistakes, fail quickly, but also see successes come quickly. They needed someplace to start, and to avoid reinventing the wheel, so they borrowed heavily from the work done by colleagues at James Madison University. They also hired Carl Grant as a consultant to ask questions and facilitate cross-departmental work.

Big thing to keep in mind: Administration needs to be prepared to allow staff to spend time learning new processes and not keeping up with everything they used to do at the same time. And, as they let go of the work they used to do, please tell them it was important or they won’t adopt the new work.

NASIG 2012: Is the Journal Dead? Possible Futures for Serial Scholarship

Speaker: Rick Anderson, University of Utah

He started with an anecdote about a picture of his dog that he thought made her look like Jean Paul Sartre. He then went to find a picture of him on Google, and had absolutely no doubt he’d not only find one quickly, but that he would find one with the same expression. In a world where he can find that picture in less than a minute makes it absurd for us to think we can keep doing serial scholarship in the way we have always done it.

The latest version of Siri can identify a reference-type question and go to Wolfram-Alpha to find the answer. How far away are we from this kind of thing doing very specific article identification and retrieval?

When budgets are falling or flat, there is a rising impatience with waste in libraries. One of the most egregious waste is that we have now and always bought stuff that nobody wants, and we still hold onto those things.

Market saturation is becoming an increasing issue as more and more articles are being submitted, and rejecting them or publishing them costs more money. A landslide of data is being created, with more coming every year. Open access mandates (whether seriously enforced or not) are forcing authors to think about copyright, putting pressure on the existing scholarly communications structure.

The Google books case, the Hathi Trust case, and the Georgia State ruling will all have impacts on copyright law and the traditional model of scholarly communication. The ground is soft — we can make changes now that may not have been possible 5 years ago, and may not be possible 2 years from now. Moving documents from print to digital is not a revolutionary change, but moving from a non-networked to a networked environment is. Distribution is at the heart of publishing, and is obviated if everyone has access to a document in a central location.

Before iTunes and the internet, we had to hope that the record store would carry the music we were interested in. Now, we can access any music from anywhere, and that’s the kind of thing that is happening to scholarly communications.

The environment is changing. The Digital Public Library of America and Google Books are changing the conversation. Patron-driven acquisitions and print on demand are only possible because of the networked environment. As we move towards this granular collecting, the whole dynamic of library collections is going to change.

This brings up some serious questions about the Big Deal and the Medium Deal. Anderson calls the Medium Deal individual title subscriptions, where you buy a bunch of articles you don’t need in order to ensure that you get them at a better price per download.

Anderson believes that there is little likelihood that open access is going to become the main publishing of scholarly communications in the foreseeable future, but it is going to become an increasing niche in the marketplace.

What does the journal do for us that is still necessary? What problem is solved for us by each element of the article citation? Volume, issue, and page number are not really necessary in the networked age. Our students don’t necessarily think about journals, they think about sources. The journal matters as a branding mechanism for articles, and gives us an idea of the reliability of the article. It matters who the author is. It matters when it was published. The article title tells us what the article is about, and the journal title lends that authority. But, the journal and issue don’t really tell you anything, and has more to do with the economics of print distribution. Finally the DOI matters, so you can retrieve it. So, why is the publisher missing? Because it doesn’t matter for identifying or retrieving or selecting the article.

There really is no such thing as “serials” scholarship. There are articles, but they aren’t serials. They may be in journals or a collection/server/repository. Typically there isn’t anything serial about a book, a review, a report, but… blog postings might be serial. What’s really interesting are the new categories of publication, such as data sets (as by-products of research or as an intentional product) and book+ (ongoing updated monographic publications, or monographs that morph into databases).

A database (or article or book) can be a “flow site,” such as Peggy Battin’s The Ethics of Suicide book, which she’s been working on for a decade. It will be published as both a book and as a website with ever growing content/data. It’s no longer a static thing, and gives us the benefit of currency with a cost of stability. How do you quote it? What is the version of record?

The people we serve have access to far more content than ever before, and they are more able to access it outside of the services we provide. So how do we stay relevant in this changing environment?

Definitions will get fuzzier, not clearer. This will be a tremendous boon to researchers. What emerges will be cool, exciting, incredibly useful and productive, and hard to manage. If we try to force our traditional methods of control onto the emerging models of scholarship, we will not only frustrate ourselves, but also our scholars. It is our job to internalize complexity so that we are the ones experiencing it so that our users don’t have to.

NASIG 2012: Managing E-Publishing — Perfect Harmony for Serialists

Presenters: Char Simser (Kansas State University) & Wendy Robertson (University of Iowa)

Iowa looks at e-publishing as an extension of the central mission of the library. This covers not only text, but also multimedia content. After many years of ad-hoc work, they formed a department to be more comprehensive and intentional.

Kansas really didn’t do much with this until they had a strategic plan that included establishing an open access press (New Prairie). This also involved reorganizing personnel to create a new department to manage the process, which includes the institutional depository. The press includes not only their own publications, but also hosts publications from a few other sources.

Iowa went with BEPress’ Digital Commons to provide both the repository and the journal hosting. Part of why they went this route for their journals was because they already had it for their repository, and they approach it more as being a hosting platform than as being a press/publisher. This means they did not need to add staff to support it, although they did add responsibilities to exiting staff in addition to their other work.

Kansas is using Open Journal Systems hosted on a commercial server due to internal politics that prevented it from being hosted on the university server. All of their publications are Gold OA, and the university/library is paying all of the costs (~$1700/year, not including the .6 FTE staff hours).

Day in the life of New Prairie Press — most of the routine stuff at Kansas involves processing DOI information for articles and works-cited, and working with DOAJ for article metadata. The rest is less routine, usually involving journal setups, training, consultation, meetings, documentation, troubleshooting, etc.

The admin back-end of OJS allows Char to view it as if she is different types of users (editor, author, etc.) to be able to trouble-shoot issues for users. Rather than maintaining a test site, they have a “hidden” journal on the live site that they use to test functions.

A big part of her daily work is submitting DOIs to CrossRef and going through the backfile of previously published content to identify and add DOIs to the works-cited. The process is very manual, and the error rate is high enough that automation would be challenging.

Iowa does have some subscription-based titles, so part of the management involves keeping up with a subscriber list and IP addresses. All of the titles eventually fall into open access.

Most of the work at Iowa has been with retrospective content — taking past print publications and digitizing them. They are also concerned with making sure the content follows current standards that are used by both library systems and Google Scholar.

There is more. I couldn’t take notes and keep time towards the end.

NASIG 2011: Polishing the Crystal Ball — Using Historical Data to Project Serials Trends and Pricing

Speakers: Steve Bosch & Heather Klusendorf

The Library Journal periodicals price survey was developed in partnership with EBSCO when the ALA pulled the old column to publish in American Libraries. There is a similar price survey being done by the AALL for law publications.

There is a difference between a price survey and a price index. A price survey is a broad look, and a price index attempts to control the categories/titles included.

[The next bit was all about the methodology behind making the LJ survey. Not why I am interested, so not really taking notes on it.]

Because of the challenge of getting pricing for ejournals, the survey is based mainly on print prices. That being said, the trends in pricing for print is similar to that of electronic.

Knowing the trends for pricing in your specific set of journals can help you predict what you need to budget for. While there are averages across the industry, they may not be accurate depending on the mix in your collection. [I am thinking that this means that the surveys and indexes are useful for broad picture looks at the industry, but maybe not for local budget planning?]

It is important to understand what goes into a pricing tool and how it resembles or departs from local conditions in order to pick the right one to use.

Budgets for libraries and higher education are not in “recovery.” While inflation calmed down last year, they are on the rise this year, with an estimate of 7-8%. The impact may be larger than at the peak of the serials pricing crisis in the 1990s. Libraries will have less buying power, and users will have less resources, and publishers will have fewer customers.

Why is the inflation rate for serials so much higher than the consumer price index inflation rate? There has been an expansion of higher education, which adds to the amount of stuff being published. The rates of return for publishers are pretty much normal for their industry. There isn’t any one reason why.