e-Forum Wrap-Up

ALCTS e-forums are two-day, moderated, electronic discussion forums that provide an opportunity for librarians to discuss matters of interest on an ALCTS discussion list. These discussions are free of charge and available to anyone who wishes to subscribe to the list.

ALCTS Newsletter Online publishes wrap-ups of e-forums in each issue. To see the schedule of upcoming forums and to sign up to participate, visit http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alcts/confevents/upcoming/e-forum/index.cfm. Previous sessions are archived at http://www.ala.org/ala/mgrps/divs/alcts/confevents/past/e-forum/index.cfm.

September 21–22, 2011

Current Issues in In-Kind Materials Donations

By Stacy Gordon and Heath Martin

September’s e-forum got off the ground with a question about the criteria for accepting in-kind donations of books and other materials. Criteria mentioned were the currency of materials, their physical condition, the judgment of selectors/subject specialists, and avoiding duplication within existing collections. Many libraries have policies that describe what they will and will not accept as donations, such as magazines/periodicals, VHS materials, dated materials, or items in poor condition (mildew, bugs).

There was also discussion about disposal of unwanted donations. Book sales (which have costs of their own), Better World Books (BWB), Books on the Run, Thrift Recycling, and other organizations were mentioned. Quite a number of participants of the forum use BWB, which pays for shipping, and from which the library receives a modest percentage of the sales, as with consignment selling. BWB provides guidelines on what they will not accept.

The issue of donor relations and expectations also emerged. Even with existing policies explicating what is and isn’t acceptable, there are occasions when accepting the donation is the appropriate choice. Many libraries have written policies and conditions, sometimes signed by the donor, indicating that understand that the library will choose the disposition of the materials. Tax and appraisal information was discussed, including referrals to IRS documents.

Other issues in donor relations and expectations have to do with shipping and other costs, which may need to be absorbed for larger or more valuable gifts, the provision of bookplates or other forms of donor recognition (these may be printed or electronic), and the public/user perception of discarded materials. At one library, Dumpster diving was permitted.

Other topics touched on included the tracking of donations for assessment, weeding, and/or statistical purposes; relationships with Friends of the Library groups; and possible tax issues associated with IRS forms and gifts-in-kind retention. Finally, the forum began exploring the issue of shelf space for donated materials and relevance of space issues to procedures such as selector review and the activities of Friends groups.

The idea of a cost-benefit analysis was presented, and short of a literature search, there was at least one response describing an older study that indicated a $15 per monograph cost. As well, there was discussion about what qualities of gifts add weight on the benefits side of the equation. International language materials present their own challenges, if there is no staff with that particular language ability. Sometimes interns or volunteers can be found, but there is a cost to training them. We were reminded of weighing the cost of adding a donated material against its wider availability through interlibrary loan or access to it at another library. Generally there is a cost to cataloging and processing items added sideways from the standard workflow for new acquisitions.

Another topic discussed was the idea of passing along donated items to other libraries (consortium partners, among others) that might be known to collect in a certain area or have a greater need for a donation than the receiving library. This does not happen frequently, and is usually at a cost to the receiving library, but is done when the donation is considered to be of worth or value. Most responders did not have a systematic process in place for this kind of paying something forward (more regular gift transfer activities within the Orbis-Cascade Alliance was a notable exception). There was mention of the practice of offering something “free to a good home” through appropriate discussion lists. The cost of packaging and shipping is a general deterrent to this practice.

Shifting patterns in library donors and donations was discussed. One library observed a higher percentage of in-kind donations coming from nonaffiliated donors than from faculty or alumni of the institution. The value of sharing non-cash donor information with library development or advancement offices was also discussed.

The e-forum concluded with conversation about the present and future effects of library collections’ changing format priorities on in-kind gifts operations. The possibility of increasing donations of digital content, including photographs, newspaper content, and data, was considered, and accompanying concerns such as permissions, server space, and appraised value were discussed. Restrictive licensing terms were recognized as an obstacle when it comes to digital gifts.

To read the discussion in its entirety, visit http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alcts-eforum/2011-09/msg00006.html.

October 18–19, 2011

ALCTS e-Forum: The Future of the Big Deal

By Rob Van Rennes and Rebecca Kemp

“The Future of the Big Deal” was held on October 18–19, 2011, and provided participants with the opportunity to share their thoughts and experiences with large publisher’s packages.

Participants mentioned a number of beneficial aspects of the Big Deal including the convenience of managing publisher packages in terms of a single payment, bundled pricing with inflation caps, and less back end work for individual journal titles. It was also pointed out that Big Deals provide price stability for both libraries and publishers while reducing overall unit costs. Finally, it was determined that library users experienced one of the greatest benefits by having local access to vast amounts of content with a higher degree of discoverability due to the aggregator like nature of the packages.

While there are many benefits to the Big Deal, it was noted that there are a great number of disadvantages as well. Libraries become locked into high cost multi-year packages that are based on outdated historic spend amounts. The Big Deal license agreements lack transparency, are inconsistent across libraries and are rarely equitable especially in regards to larger institutions. There is a loss of control of collections with all or nothing packages that increase in cost by requiring the addition new and transfer titles while at the same time limiting library cancellations.

Metrics for Valuing Journals and Big Deal Packages

Ivy Anderson of the University of California, Tim Jewell of the University of Washington, and David Fowler of the University of Oregon all shared details on the methodology their institutions employ to measure the value of the journals in their Big Deals. All three libraries used a combination of some of the following measures: usage, cost per use, impact factors, Eigenfactor, source normalized impact per paper (SNIP), and institution specific citations. Carmelita Pickett (Texas A & M University) also noted that the Research Libraries UK (RLUK) was in the process of developing a journal subscription analysis tool to evaluate Big Deals.

Modifying the Big Deal

There were a number of suggestions on how to modify the Big Deal to make it more viable in the future and many of the ideas involved reducing the size of the packages. There was support for libraries to have the option to pick and choose titles for one price or have the ability to include or exclude specific subject packages. Increasing the percentage of allowable cancellations was mentioned as another possibility as was the ability to scale back Big Deals without suffering an increase in journal pricing. Other reforms included developing transparent open access models that can produce new revenue streams for publishers and amending the publisher's requirement of adding new and transfer journals to packages.

Pay-per-view Access to Nonsubscribed Titles: A Viable Alternative to the Big Deal?

It was argued that the size of the school may make a difference in whether PPV is a feasible alternative to large journal packages. Terese Heindenwolf, Lafayette College (2400 FTE), commented that her library has been successfully using PPV programs with Elsevier and Wiley to realize savings over Big Deal packages. On the opposite side, reports from larger institutions such as the University of Oregon and Old Dominion University indicated that unmediated PPV programs were not cost-effective. David Fowler (University of Oregon) indicated that PPV was subject to intentional and unintentional abuse and therefore OU discontinued their PPV program after reinstating a few high use titles. Pamela Morgan (Old Dominion University) added that ODU used up their entire PPV allocation in only 3 months. Linda Dausch (Chicago Public Library) thought that it would be very difficult to make unmediated PPV work in a public library setting and Susan Klimley (Columbia University) wondered whether Open Access journals have made PPV costs affordable for health sciences libraries. Both John Abbott (Appalachian State University) and Michael Jundi (Brown Mackie College) expressed the view that PPV is untenable as an alternative to the Big Deal for most libraries, although it may work well for smaller schools or early adopters.

Considerations Librarians Should be Mindful of When Contemplating Ending Publisher Packages

Luke Swindler (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) emphasized usage statistics as a metric to consider for evaluating Big Deals. Kate Seago (University of Kentucky Libraries) was concerned with usage of subscribed titles versus unsubscribed titles and trying to achieve a balance between the amount of money available for the collection and trying to collect the most heavily used titles.

George Boston (Western Michigan University) brought up the point that libraries leaving consortial deals need to consider the effect such an action would have on the other libraries in their consortium. In support of that point, Tim Jewell (University of Washington) offered up the example of the Orbis Cascade Alliance, which had to "downgrade" its "all titles" Springer deal as a result of institutions having to reduce their spend amounts. Orbis Cascade ultimately worked out a lower spend deal that allowed all its members access to each one another’s subscribed titles, but the consortium lost access to 1,000 titles.

Information Librarians Should Possess before Negotiating with Publishers/negotiation Tips

David Fowler (University of Oregon) indicated that libraries must have sufficient data about their own collections, a well-formulated plan, and a "fall-back option" before arranging a meeting with a publisher. Luke Swindler (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) elaborated on this strategy by recommending that libraries require the publisher to make the first pricing offer for a full package. If that offer is unacceptable, the library should counter with a custom package proposal and be prepared with an "exit option" of walking away from the package deal entirely and subscribing to a core set of a la carte titles.

The Potential Difficulties in Extracting Your Institution from a Big Deal

Amie Pifer (Central Michigan University) warned that one problem with leaving a Big Deal is that libraries may have to return to list pricing which could reduce any perceived cost savings and result in further loss of content.

To read the discussion in its entirety, visit http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alcts-eforum/2011-10/msg00003.html.

November 15-16, 2011

ALCTS e-Forum: Managing Electronic Theses and Dissertations

By Holly Mercer and Jennifer Roper

On November 15 and 16, the ALCTS Metadata Interest Group hosted an e-forum titled Managing Electronic Theses and Dissertations. As a workflow that represents the intersection of scholarship, university policies and library collecting, an ETD program presents relatively unique opportunities and challenges for library staff.

A successful ETD program requires involvement from a variety of campus constituents, and communication about and coordination of varying interests are necessary. Over the course of the conversation, most participants agreed that ETDs allow for efficiencies across the institution, with several institutions involving undergraduate theses, master’s projects, records of study and other document types as well as master’s theses and doctoral dissertations. The use of copyrighted materials was discussed as a concern for both the library and the university. This concern, though, does point to an opportunity for libraries to play a role in helping students, and advisors, make informed decisions about copyrighted works—both theirs and others’. The signature page arose as a topic of conversation. Whether or not an institution retains a hard copy of the full text, many consider the signature page an official part of the overall student record, and there are many solutions for archiving this particular physical piece of a thesis or dissertation.

Turning to more traditional library concerns, there was discussion about cataloging choices, indexing decisions, and discovery tools. A wide variety of repositories and digital asset managers were discussed, with some hoping to get a general overview of available options and others seeking guidance with a particular system. Participants provided a number of examples of ways to transform non-MARC metadata into MARC to provide OCLC and local catalog access to ETDs. While most participants did not think that ETDs lead to cataloging efficiency, many reported satisfaction with their ability to use a variety of programmatic methods to provide consistent data between the digital repository and the library catalog.

Looking into the future, one participant stated a goal of one day collecting ETDs into a single location across institutions with open access for all, and noted that for this dream to become a reality there should be standardized metadata collected now, in individual repositories. In response, others provided specific metadata requirements for individual institutions and consortiums and a good starting place to determine a metadata baseline.

The e-forum ended with an invitation for all to continue the conversation in person at the Texas ETD Association Conference, which will be held at the University of North Texas in Denton, TX on February 23–24, 2012. Attendees do not need to be a member of the association; all who are interested in ETDs are welcome.

To read the discussion in its entirety, visit http://lists.ala.org/sympa/arc/alcts-eforum/2011-11/msg00005.html