by Hal Bright
Electronic Resources Librarian
A. T. Still University Memorial Library
With assistance from a NNLM professional development award, I had the opportunity to attend the 12th Annual Electronic Resources and Libraries (ER&L) Conference April 2-5 in Austin, TX. The conference is tangentially hosted by the University of Texas (UT) Libraries and is held at the AT&T Executive Campus Center. It is 10-15 years old and covers everything from Discovery (my passion) and ERM to EZ Proxies. There were several workshops on collection development, leadership and grant writing as well. I encourage anyone who has electronic or digital in their job title to attend this conference at least once. There is also an online version which I may do next year.
I want to relate some of the discoveries I made in the workshops I attended. One workshop was on tracking perpetual rights for journals once they were switched out of a collection or discontinued as a subscription. The presenter used the 899 field of the MARC record to keep track of their licenses (a link to them) and listed the perpetual rights they had to content on each platform if discontinued. The standardized wording they use is “Perpetual Access from ___ to ___, if canceled.” They used their Symphony ILS, their ERM manager (Coral), and the Ebsco AtoZ in harmony to track these changes.
Another interesting workshop that had particular interest involved breaking up the “Big Deal” due to budget concerns and converting them into individual subscriptions. The presenter wanted to know which subscriptions in the package he would need to subscribe to as to not overwhelm their ILL systems and pay exorbitant Copyright Clearance Center (CCC) fees. We will be doing that for the next subscription renewal cycle for the same reasons and so I was very interested in his conclusions. The presenter looked at three years of ILL requests before entering the big deal and correlated that with the COUNTER use statistics for three years of their bundled titles. He analyzed their ScienceDirect, Springer and Wiley collections. All showed a strong per title correlation of around 1 ILL request for every 17 COUNTER uses, so 1:17 was his ratio for seeing how much of an impact canceling a journal would impact ILL. If a journal had 500 current COUNTER uses, he would estimate that cancelling the journal would produce 29.41 ILL requests on average, 200 COUNTER uses would produce 11.76 ILL requests and 100 would produce 5.88, etc. This ratio provides a good metric to see what your ILL tolerances would be and at what line you would not renew journals due to ILL costs, which I will be using this summer. The presenter did caution that this ratio was not validated and has not been proven in reverse correlation.
In the Discovery area, I was astounded by how far some schools are pushing the boundaries of discovery tools. The University of Michigan has a team of over ten programmers working on their website and discovery system (of which Summon is only one part). They adjust their website and search tool weekly. Smith College in Massachusetts has (to me) an awesome search results page that is very intuitive and customizable. Other schools are using “Best Bets” from LibGuides to show students their best resource databases based on search terms. Several top schools are using “Bento box” search results to better separate different data silos such as articles and eBooks and video resources. Most of the leading Discovery people and presentations are trying to push the cognitive load of searching from the pre-search to the post-search results. As such, they want a single search box with bento box results, e.g., UMichigan, Lane Search from Stanford, Smith College. Cognitively, I do not know how this translates to the postgraduate health sciences areas that most of us deal with (i.e. doctors, nurses, graduate students, professors and health sciences students) but it was a lot to digest.
Finally, I was fascinated by all the collection development models I was exposed to. The most promising one for me is the rental>Purchase model where a library licenses an entire database for a set amount of money and then purchases content at the end of the season based on usage with the money that was used as the licensing fee. Wiley, Project Muse, Cambridge, Oxford, and Taylor and Francis seem to follow this model. My library has been using Rittenhouse’s model for quite a while and may look at one of these companies to contain costs in the future. This model was touted as EBL – evidence based libraries. The main point of contention was that high use titles were excluded from the collections the following year if not purchased, as they were considered “textbook adoptions” and not allowed into the unlimited model.
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me!